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In the beginning of college, I was a drinker more than a student, but as I got in to my third year, I realized I needed to do some work to help me stand out to folks who would hire me after graduating. So, I started studying to get my GPA above the 2.76 it had been following my sophomore year. And then I decided that an internship would also help.
Finding an internship as a drunk, exceptionally average college student is remarkably difficult. It turns out that free labor is readily available and people fitting my bill are regarded as criminal threats moreso than the future workforce. So, after some looking, I managed to talk two biologists in to letting me do an internship on a research cruise of theirs. This meant they wouldn’t have to spend 7 weeks at sea and I would have to do a good enough job of collecting samples that they’d be able to publish a paper based on the results.
The boat was set to leave on February 2nd and return on March 24th. This in 1998, so the most horrible part for me was missing UNC’s dream season and then getting back just in time to watch it all fall apart. My parents were good enough to record the UNC Duke game from that year when UNC won by 27 and Vince Carter barely missed what would have easily been the greatest dunk in UNC history.
But more importantly, I was briefed by the two scientists a week before leaving and then, rather than returning to school for my spring semester, I flew out to San Diego, where I made my way to the Naval Yard. The boat I would spend the next 7 weeks on was 224 feet long and would house 28 of us – mostly permanent crew. There weren’t too many rules – the only one of any significance was “no beer.”