Everything seems to take longer than anticipated at the end of an expedition, and our group is no different. We are still typing and packing when Allison calls dinner at 7 p.m., and everyone is glad to be pulled away from their tasks. The darting team returns drenched, but with another 12 samples, bring their total over 200 animals, which should be a good sample size for the genetic population assessments. There is an air of sadness about the final preparations, as this has been our home for over two weeks. Brian, Scott, and Mauricio toast the expeditions’ success on its many fronts over dinner, and in particular the captain and crew for their extraordinary efforts on our behalf.
We finally got all of the hatches battened down, the zodiacs stored and tightly tethered on deck, all of the computers stored securely, and cameras stashed and lashed in their cases. The wind remained strong out of the east, and Captain Steve kept shaking his head about the weather. We sailed out of Port Ross about noon, and as we entered the open ocean, everyone realized it was going to be a rough passage home. Seas 6 to 12 feet, made larger by shallow shelf waters and eddies around the Aucklands, greeted us. The Evohe, a rugged ocean sailor, with tens of thousands of bluewater miles under her belt, has no trouble negotiating the slop, but the corkscrewing motion lays many of us low for the rest of the day. At night, sleep is an adventure, with side-to-side rocking punctuated by large and sudden lifts and descents that leave would-be sleepers plastered to their cabin ceilings. Ah sailing!!