After a month at sea, the Enlighten ’10 cruise is coming to an end and we are steaming back towards the Oregon coast. Jason was recovered from the 13th, and final, dive of the cruise this morning at 1100 h and we began transiting towards Newport shortly after. Today has been busy with student presentations, working on cruise reports, and our second Bosun’s poetry night of the cruise. We’ll be arriving in Newport around 0800 h tomorrow, Monday, where we will finish packing and cleaning our lab and living spaces for the next science party, which will be aboard in a few days.
As is typical with the looming end of a cruise, there is a combination of excitement and sadness around the ship. There’s excitement to get home and see loved ones and to get back to our normal lives. But there is also a sadness about saying goodbye to all of the wonderful people that have been living and working together aboard the Thompson for the past two weeks, and for many of us, for the past month.
We have accomplished a tremendous amount of work during the cruise at both Hydrate Ridge and Axial Seamount. We have covered a lot of seafloor and ocean with high-resolution mapping, photomosaics, CTDs, and some remarkable HD imagery. With all of this data in hand, we have no doubt laid a solid foundation for the installation of the Regional Scale Nodes (RSN) component of the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative. We have assessed candidate locations for the primary and secondary nodes, as well as for the numerous sensors that will be part of the initial installment of the RSN. Additionally, we have travelled and assessed potential cable routes that will connect all of these various sensors to the secondary nodes.