NOAA Teacher at Sea
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 5 – July 4, 2006
Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii
Date: June 25, 2006
Crew Interview: Huntley Brownell, Deckhand
“Rather than defining my life by working a job, what will define me is the relationships I form along the way.”
The most remarkable thing about Huntley is that he was born in the backseat of a Greyhound bus heading down Highway 41. Since then it seems he has been on the move, discovering this world one place at a time. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Huntley left home after a year in college and set out to explore the world. Although his mother was not in full approval of his decision to leave, his father–a biologist working for NOAA–knew that he needed a bit of time out in the world before attending college.
After working several small jobs, Huntley put in his application with NOAA and then forgot about it for several months until one day he received a call asking if he was still interested. “Can you start work in 2 days,” the voice on the other end asked. Huntley accepted the offer and was at sea on the COBB between Seattle and Alaska almost immediately. After 3 months of working, he found out about an opening on the SETTE, based out of the tropics instead of the arctic, and has been working onboard the SETTE for the last two years.
Only planning on spending a summer or so working on the SETTE, Huntley found himself quickly addicted to the fix that traveling to remote parts of the world offered. “It is a good way to travel and see places you wouldn’t normally see as a tourist.” And sure enough, one cruise to Samoa turned into another to Marianas. Like most travelers, it was always the thought of the next trip that kept him going cruise after cruise.
While at sea, Huntley is an avid reader, crediting The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, as one of his favorite, life-changing books. (I also agree, as a fellow journeyman, that this is one book not to be missed.) He is also teaching himself guitar and studying for his private pilot’s license. Flying when back in Oahu is one of the things that have opened Huntley’s perspective of life.
Although he cannot recall his favorite memory onboard the SETTE, as he says there have been so many, he narrowed down the years of past experience to two: the time that the fishermen were catching big tuna right and left and it was fun to be a part of that, even though he hadn’t earned his fishing spot yet, and the first time he came to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and saw a part of the islands that most people never get to see.
Huntley loves the sea, but senses the urge inside of him to travel again. He has no immediate plans of where he might move on to, but with a strong feeling that it is nearing time, his options are unlimited: “The older I get, the less I know what I want to do. The more you travel, the more open doors you see. And you know you can walk through any one of them.”