Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Bye to the Marquesas

We had a super port stop in Nuka Hiva, Marquesas- a place that is remarkable for the people, the beauty, the island culture and history. We enjoyed a spectacular hike to a waterfall, and along the way we saw historical sites, rock foundations, rich with history, marked with tikis, that echoed in a somewhat haunting way the loss of a society that once numbered hundreds of thousands of islanders. There are less than 3000 today.

We loaded the vessel with fresh produce from the island and traded fishing lures with the locals. We organized some tours to archeological sites and spent several days hiking, swimming, exploring and even fishing. The dogtooth team was ecstatic when on the third day a local Marquesan had the elusive fish mixed in with his yellowfin catch. I immediately asked for the
fish, and we're looking forward to dissecting it. To us it's almost like finding a dinosaur.

We fished again with this vessel in the early am the next day- and were able to document their fishing methodologies with students Joe Berg and Jered helping to pull fish in. It was awesome to be out on a local boat, with 6 other boats surrounding us, all working together to chum up fish; and then using traditional techniques - handlines - to catch the fish. There was a colorful Saturday market full of fish, produce, carvings and local artisan products that all members of the ship browsed through. We left Nuka Hiva full of new experiences and memories, chanting a local tune taught to us by Marquesans.

We are heading north now to the equator on the longest leg of the trip- 19 days and over 2100 sailing miles. This will be the leg that students truly sense the sea- under fair breezes sailing with all the lower sails up. On this leg, our students get to experience fully the joy of being on a tall ship- with sails up, stars overhead used for celestial navigation, and 4-6h of science stations ahead. Winds are steady, we're making good time, and everyone appears happy. Crossing the equator - a rare event for most sailors - is up next for the students of S223.

-Dr. Barbara Block

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