Monday, April 26, 2010

Nat Geo Expedition in Puerto Rico - 3/24/10

We spent the day just drifting within 30 miles of our drop point for Cam #2. I got a good bit of reading done, and actually finished my book, The Wastelands (Book 3 of 7 in the The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King). I was proud of myself considering I can be awful about finishing books. I also spent time listening to the ipod and chatting with the guys. Around 3 or 4pm, the guys got a second fix on the camera which confirmed that it had surfaced. We were surprised because we didn't expect it to surface until 1 or 2am the next morning. So, we set out for it, and picked it up just as the sun went down. It was pretty cool to get to pick this one up in the dark. You could see the bright strobes flashing in the swells every 5 seconds. I filmed the retrieval as well as I could in the dark. This pickup, like the drop, went much smoother. As soon as the camera was onboard, we popped open a bottle of wine, and set sail for Fajardo. CK and I rustled up some dinner. He prepped the burger meat which included mixing in chopped onions, montreal steak seasoning, pepper, salt, and mustard. I grilled them as such, and baked a couple batches of potato wedges. We were all quite satisfied.

I took an early watch with CK. Around 1am we saw some strange lights in the distance. It looked different than normal ship lighting we had seen so far, and we saw a helicopter lights flying circles around the other lights. CK thought it was maybe Coast Guard. I went down to monitor the radio, and a call came through in a French accent that said something along the lines of: "Sailing vessel at 19 degrees North (listed off our coordinates), this is French warship...," and I forget what else, but they basically wanted to communicate and see what we were up to. I thought to myself: "What in the world?! French warship!?" CK climbed down into the galley, and I looked at him and, in a shocked voice, said, "It's the French." He looked as puzzled as I did I'm sure. He picked up the radio and said, "This is the captain of National Geographic Research vessel, Eugenie I. What are your intentions? Over." Yes, CK loved the name drop. I missed the rest of the conversation because he sent me topside to keep an eye on things, but the name drop definitely worked. Apparently, he asked them if they read the magazine, and they said they did and that it was a great magazine. Then he said, "So do you want to cross starboard or port?" The French went on their marry way after that. CK joined me topside and said that it was the first time he ever felt any respect from a Frenchman. Feeling good about himself, he went to bed. Around 2am, not long after CK crashed, I had Mike take over for me. Crazy night.

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