The R.V. Point Sur Crew
The R.V. Point Sur was built in 1980 and was originally called the R.V Cape Florida before Moss Landing Marine Laboratory purchased the vessel. Moss Landing utilized the vessel for 28 years before they retired the ship due to downsizing. The vessel was purchased in the spring of 2015 by the University of Southern Mississippi, but is operated by Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. The vessel is equipped with many labs, heavy operational equipment, and scientific equipment for all operations. The vessel is also equipped with 28,695 gallon fuel tank which costs roughly $46,000 to fill up. When the ship is steaming at 9-10 knots (1 knot=1.15 mph), 35 gallons of fuel is being used every hour. On this specific cruise we are averaging about 416 gallons of fuel per day, which is low due to sampling one station per day. You can read more about the logistics of the R.V. Point Sur at https://www.usm.edu/marine/rv-point-sur
To date we have been on board the R.V. Point Sur for 12 wonderful days and it has been a pleasure getting to know all seven of the crew members that make the vessel function with ease and efficiency. The crew is comprised of Captain- Nick Allen, Chief Mate -Justin Collett , Engineer -Joshua Jansen, Deck Hand –Jamison Chauvin, Marine Tech- Marshall Kormanec, Head Steward- Alex Forsythe, and Assistant Steward- Jack Bonnington.
Life at sea is not an easy occupation; the crew is away from their family and friends for weeks on end, they work ten months straight out of twelve, the hours are long, sometimes the conditions are rough, but they all love what they do. Many of them used the term “I’m married to the sea” to describe their feelings about their work. They all stated that the benefits outweigh the hard times. They really enjoy meeting a variety of scientists, building relationships with repeat clients, the amazing food, and always being a part of something different, there is no monotony at sea for them. I had the opportunity to sit down with each crew member and get to know them a little bit better and listen to their personal stories. I am excited to showcase the group for the hard work that they do because without them I wouldn’t have been able to experience the adventurous ship life on board the Point Sur.
The vessel is operated by Captain Nick Allen, originally from North Carolina, graduated with a Biology degree from East Carolina University and then went on to Cape Fear Community College where he studied Applied Science and earned his Captains license. Shortly after he became the Captain of the R.V. Pelican for a few years and then moved over to the R.V. Point Sur when it was added to Southern Mississippi’s fleet in spring of 2015. On the vessel Captain Allen wears a lot of hats; he oversees all major operations, coordinates cruises with the Chief Scientists, makes sure all of their needs are met, communicates with clients, and takes the safety of the lives of all the passengers and crew very seriously. He works 12 hours a day, but not at once. He alternates with the Chief Mate eight hours on / eight hours off and four hours on / four hours off. The schedule may seem irregular to some, but it’s extremely important that the hours are broken up to ensure proper functionality in the wheel house. Captain Allen truly has a deep appreciation for the sea and loves supporting current research and learning new information about his own backyard.
Captain Nick Allen
The Chief Mate, Justin Collett, originally from North Carolina, graduated from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington with a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology and then went on to Cape Fear Community College for a degree in marine technology. He decided to pursue marine technology because he was searching for a way to use his marine science background in a way that would make him think and would expose him to a variety of research. Justin’s love for ocean started when his dad would take him on beach vacations as a little kid, and from that moment he wanted to know more. As Chief Mate his duties include being a helmsman, operating the winches, assist scientists on cruises, and helping wherever help is needed. He stated that every ship works best when everyone works as a team, no one ever says “that’s not my job” and that is how the R.V. Point Sur operates.
Justin Collett, Chief Mate
Joshua Jansen is the Chief Engineer on board. He grew up in multiple locations around the United States due to his father’s active duty status in the Navy. Prior to the R.V. Point Sur Josh was working construction in Florida and was going to go into the Peace Corp. After many conversations with his dad about becoming a Merchant Marine he looked it up, fell in love with the idea of being out to sea and working on the water, and has been doing it ever since (2004). He really enjoys boat life, the on the job training he receives, learning new skills, the remarkable food, the great people, but always misses his family. On board Josh is in charge of propulsion, power generation, crane operating, water, HVAC, and many other operational tasks that keep the vessel moving forward.
Joshua Jansen, Chief Engineer
The Marine Tech, Marshall Kormanec, originally from North Carolina, graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and earned his Masters degree from Louisiana State University in Oceanography. Prior to working on the vessel he was a Fisheries Observer in Alaska for six years. Marshall loves being a part of the science on board the vessel, he finds it interesting, challenging, and exciting to be able to learn about all of the current research and he gets to be exposed to a variety of topics. On board he is the main science and IT liaison customizing items for each science party, assisting in planning research trips, and maintaining all of the scientific equipment such as the CTD. For example, for this DEEPEND cruise he prepared the CTD so that it was able to descend 1500 meters as well as placing chlorophyll sensors on it.
Marshall Kormanec, Marine Tech
Deckhand Jamison Chauvin was raised in Chauvin, Louisiana where he grew up on boats his entire life. Prior to joining the R.V. Point Sur family in May 2015 he worked in several shipyards, on his dads shrimp boat, and was also a mechanic at Nissan. Jamison loves life at sea because it’s quiet, the food is delicious, and it’s like a second home with all of his brothers. On the vessel he assists the Chief Engineer, performs maintenance when needed, runs deck operations such as running equipment, and is the main safety officer on deck.
Jamison Chauvin, Deckhand
Alex Forsythe is the Chief Steward, originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone and has spent the majority of his life creating fabulous meals on planes, trains, and yachts. Chef Alex prepares food for the guests promptly, is the king of hospitality, and is always looking out for his fellow crew members. He takes great care and pride in all of the meals he prepares for everyone and is always checking in to make sure we are content, which has definitely made us all feel welcome. Over the last 12 days he has made amazing meals including cedar plank salmon, grilled sea scallops, homemade pizza, char grilled ribs, Chicken Caesar salad (dressing was amazing), roasted vegetables, flank steak, bacon wrapped shrimp, grilled hangar steaks, roasted chicken, German chocolate cake, and many other mouth watering desserts. You can follow all of Chef Alex’s wonderful creations on his Facebook page- Point Sur Cuisine.
Alex Forsythe, Chief Steward on the right and Jack Bonnington, Assistant Steward on the left.
Jack Bonnington, originally from Washington, is a recent graduate from the University of Washington where he earned his Bachelors degree in Zoology. This is his first time working on the R.V. Point Sur as well as being out to sea for an extended period of time. Jack is the Assistant Steward on board and works closely with the Chief Steward, Chef Alex. Together they make a great team and Jack is learning a lot from his leader. When I asked him what life was like living on a ship, he stated that he relies on a lot of Dramamine to keep him going. He also enjoys all of the science and being able to engage and talk with the scientists. Ultimately he wants to increase his maritime experience and work on yachts.
The crew on the R.V. Point Sur has gone above and beyond to make all of us feel warm and welcome. They have been accommodating to all of our needs and have been kind enough to let me interview them! It was a pleasure to get to know each and every one of you. I think I can speak for everyone at DEEPEND by saying that your hospitality and hard work is greatly appreciated, thank you for a great cruise.