Last spring, we received a new Manta trawl! After a few days of preparing and fine-tuning the system after every trawl, she finally soared next to Europa as she should. Mostly thanks to Bosun Nat and the deckhands helping me with their diligent knotting skills, for we were determined not to lose our new equipment in the first week. And some thanks are due to James. The best thing about having engineers on board is that they can fix about anything. From flow meters to manta trawls, nothing seems beyond their skill level.
Anyway, the Manta trawl is ready for science again. Super exciting! We found, as we expected, more plastic than we would have liked to. But the real show stopper was the catch of large and beautiful Violet Snails. These snails prey on Velella and Portuguese Man ‘O wars, which we also found in great numbers. In addition to our net findings, dolphins and whales (Fin whales and/or Bryde’s whales), were already spotted in the very first days. While we haven’t seen many in the last few days, there are always birds around. It is incredible to realize that no matter how far we venture into the ocean, these magnificent creatures continue to accompany us. Every day we create more distance between ourselves and the mainland, racing towards the possibility of visiting Saint Helena.
Then came our third day of trawling. The weather was a bit different. Our speed was a bit different. However, Captain Hans, having a real heart for science, still gave the signal to take away more than half of the sails to reduce our speed from 9 knots to 3. However, at 2.5 knots the Manta trawl was also unhappy, so the speed was increased again. Unfortunately, the new speed in combination with the waves and swell did not improve the situation. I can only describe the whole endeavor as a large hassle, leading us to abort the mission and set all the sails again, heading onwards to Saint Helena.
Since this incident and some other funny events, James will every time I encounter him jokingly ask what trouble I am about to cause next. I just “bring some life to the brewery”, as we’d say in Dutch. Later, I’ll make some chocolate milk for him and all will be forgiven. Maybe I’ll throw in some snacks as well and perhaps he will then even tend to my fogged-up waterproof camera.
In all seriousness, there is no bribery and together we work towards the same goals. As we are getting to know each other better, there is more banter and joking around. The atmosphere is very good on board and we all praise ourselves lucky to be out at sea with good company.