And just like that, we’re done. I woke this morning at 3:00 a.m. to the sound of flat water moving past the hull, and a blissful lack of pings from the demon budgie sonar. We were in the Straits. Took my time getting up and showering; even let myself start a load of laundry before wandering down to the ELab to check progress on the display: 12 knots made good with five hours to go; next waypoint, Punta Arenas.
Yeah, I was conflicted: restless and eager to be ashore, but not eager for this little adventure to end. Wandered over to dry lab – Kim was up, of course, entering data while absentmindedly reading a paper (I’m inclined to think that there must be two identical Kims, and they just take turns sleeping to get more work done). Grabbed some ramen from the galley to tide me over until breakfast and poked around my shiny new codebase a bit, cleaning up documentation. by the time the sun was up and others were starting to mill around main deck, I was practically stir-crazy.
I found an excuse to head up to the ice tower (needed to reboot the 3G modem) and let myself watch for a while from my favorite perch. Yeah, I was on duty, but there really wasn’t any duty left to be on, and oh, the view! I watched as we glided in, past factory ships and freighters at anchor, waiting their turn. I watched as the sun filtered through the clouds and played off the water, and watched as the pier inched closer, agonizingly closer.
And then? And then we were there. I was below, in the lab when they shut the engines down, and even with the hum of the system cooling fans, the silence was eerie. Of course, we still had to sit tight for a bit: it was going to take an hour or two for us to clear customs, and by now Mike had lunch ready in the galley. Tuna melts, chicken nuggets, fries and his homebrew tomato soup – good hearty comfort food for a goodbye.
Of course, I’m still going to be living on board for the next few days. There’s all sorts of transition stuff to work on, and now that we’ve got the science recording turned off, I can start testing my code against the hardware in earnest. But we’re here, back where we started, and in most ways that’s all there is. So I’ll be signing off from the blog for a while. I may post once or twice next week when I skip up to Torres del Paine of a day or two and on the way home, but if you tuned in for the Antarctic adventure, it’s probably safe to change the channel now – thanks for following along!