Sunday, July 27, 2008

Squeezing Energy out of our Mustang Suits

Sorry my friends! It has been a while since we last updated our web log. We’d like to thank Roy Arezzo, the high school teacher from New York embarked on this adventure with us, for sharing his posts and experiences with our friends back in Hawaii. His descriptions have helped us to reveal how amazing it is to live aboard a research vessel for a month-long period, far from our normal routines, our families and our friends. Anyway, it was a hectic sampling schedule that prevented us from sitting in front of the computer and sharing what has happened in the past few days. The science work has been overwhelming enough to keep our minds and bodies focused on collecting and processing samples of animals, water and mud!

We fell like an empty potato bag afterour 12-hr shift.

Ufhhhh!! Station AA finished! Only station B left to go. The last 28-hrs were probably the most work intensive of the whole cruise. We could probably make the Guinness Book of World Records for our fast sampling accomplishments, if such a record did indeed exist. It took us only 3 shifts (36 hours) to complete our sampling at station AA (7 megacores, 4 box cores, 1 Kasten core, 2 yo-yo camera tows, 2 CTD’s, 1 Blake trawl, 1 Otter trawl, 1 Plankton net town and several Tucker trawl tows, which were insisting on giving Linda and Dave a hard time). The work has been really well coordinated by the shift team leaders, i.e. our great Pi’s Dave DeMaster and Craig Smith. Dave is the workaholic in our shift (morning shift). If you think there is nothing left to do, Dave is there, either crawling on his knees polishing and preparing a new set of megacore tubes in their shafts to be deployed in a couple of hours or coaxing the box core spade into place for the next shift. He is definitely in love with those inanimate creatures made of stainless steel! Dare you lose one of those precious box core screws, then you will be in trouble! He walks back and forward from the back deck to the forward dry lab (where we can track all gear deployment information from 5 colorful and informative computer screens). “Roger…kasten core is on deck”… “Roger…box core is going over…”… “Back deck calling bridge…the bottom trawl was successful again…over”

Megacore: one of Dave's favorites.

Tucker trawl: it gives Dave a hard time, but even so he loves it!!

What about our chief scientist Craig: what a funny guy! Like Dave, he is deploying and recovering the gear, walking around the main deck keeping people from falling sleep during their shift, and assigning tasks to everyone. He is always making jokes, keeping our group motivated for the hard work. But no jokes around him are allowed when he is on the radio speaking with the bridge or back deck to send equipment over the side of the ship. He is really serious and concentrated at that point. And what about his meticulous way of working with his gear: Funny! Especially with his fancy and expensive digital camera toys! That is amusing to watch, but at the same time we learn a lot from that behavior since we start paying attention to the details that make high-quality science possible in a challenging environment like Antarctica. He always wants to make sure that everything is double-checked, triple –checked or even quadruple-checked before deploying the camera, but all these precautions sometimes are not enough to prevent bad things from happening. That is the way scientific fieldwork goes.

“Angelino, do you really think this strobewill fire? We need to be really sure you know!!”

"Make sure all the nuts and bolts aretightened hard enough. But not too hard, please do not damage my littlechild!!"

Let’s not hide the truth: we are all really tired!! Not surprisingly, our esteemed colleagues are beginning to show their fatigued state of being. Some are also showing the first signs of moodiness, a symptom that they are missing home and the safety and security of firm ground. This is all perfectly normal for people that have been at sea for a while. No disagreements will last more than a couple of hours though. And if they last more than that, we are sure that during our last night in Punta Arenas, the salsa dancing in one of the famous night clubs will break the ice and seal the peace among our ship-board family again.

Little Linda after a madness shift. She stillhas energy to upload the scientific pictures into the public drive of the ship.

We are transiting to our Station B, the last of our scheduled 5 stations. However, since we have been working really hard and have had calm seas, itseems that we are ahead of schedule. There has been some gossip about another sampling station (some extra work…ohhhh NOOO!!!). But it is ok; we are strong Vikings at sea prepared for extra work! Ahahahaha!! Some other version of the gossip however says we might stop somewhere close toeither the Deception Island or Elephant Island for a quick leg stretch and scenic views. Cool!! Since we have not been able to step on Antarctic soil during this winter cruise, everyone is excited about the possibility. Let’s keep our fingers crossed! But if more work comes, lets get it on!!! Aloha!!

Fabio and Linda wonder about being on Antarctic soil again! Hopefully!

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