Now, that was a rough night. Weather got worse, and here was no keeping
things on a table or desk, or a chair from moving across the floor if it
wasn’t screwed down. The lounge was full, every cushy leather-like
recliner stuffed with a semi-reluctant sailor, watching who knows what
movie - no one cared because no one was going anywhere. This was the only
thing to be doing once you’d reached your tolerance at the computer. As I
type, the curser arrow is gliding on its own all over my screen because my
mouse is following the motion of the ship. Science operations were at a
standstill this morning, and the Drake Passage is having its way with this
(relatively, in the scheme of things) tiny ship. How are y’all enjoying
the trip so far?? At midnight, we’re not quite halfway across. Averaging
about 8.9 knots over ground, it’ll be a while yet.
There are things to be learned about functioning while sailing through
rough seas. “After all,” quoth a captain of this ship from another, more
tolerable passage, “Calm seas do not make a good sailor!” I thought it
would be a good time to try out the shower. It’s best to run the hot water
a bit to warm up the metal walls of this tipped-on-end Spam can. I knew
I’d need the walls, especially the back corner, to maintain my footing, and
cold metal would not be good. My next dilemma was how to keep the shower
curtain closed enough to keep the water in. I mean, how crazy is it to
have that curtain on rings??? Ahhh!! There are tiny suction cups
periodically along the curtain edges!! Pure genius!! The shower mat is
thick rubber with what can sometimes be uncomfortable nubs throughout but
these proved to be just the foot-grippers you need in a situation like
this. Now that I’d figured out how to stay on the wet side of the shower
curtain, I cringed at the thought that a Safety Drill might be called,
but…. No. Good thing. Being in the shower is not an excuse to miss an ‘all hands muster’. Success #1. (Ah, no photo)
Toothbrushing is much the same as at home, except for that brief moment you
need 2 hands for holding and putting paste on the brush, and being sure
that that’s the moment a good roll will hit. Oh, and you need to follow
the slant of he water coming from the faucet first to the left, then to
the right, etc. Give yourself a little extra time… (Can you think of
other things that might be a challenge to perform one-handed? This is not
a trick question, there are no wrong answers.)
Sleeping. Pitch and roll this means that sometimes the ship tips bow to
stern (pitch) and sometimes side to side (roll) and sometimes a combination
of both, whose name I do not know (could it be ‘yaw’?). I only know I
couldn’t sleep for long during most of it. At one point, I migrated to the
foot of my bunk and braced myself across it with my head at the wall and my
feet at the cabinet (closet-like thing, that doesn’t move) and slept for as
long as I could in that fetal but not so much rockin’ position. This was
actually the best part of my night. Now I am truly sleep deprived for the
first time this trip. The last time I felt this way, I at least had the
sweet face of a grateful baby looking back at me. Today I am running on
only 3 cylinders.
Walking in the hallways is also a challenge. Steve Alexander demonstrates
while Chief Engineer Paul Waters looks on (see photo on right).
The doors are heavy and the stairs are steep. You have to choose your
moment to move or you will either be at a door that has too much gravity on
its side, or you will be jettisoned down a long hallway, feeling like a
giddy chickadee in springtime hurling itself at your picture window. It
becomes a choreography of simple ambulation, all depending on the
timing. Save me, Bob Fosse.
A high pressure front moved in for a very few fleeting hours, and many of
us dove into our bunks to catch what sleep could be had. Ahhhh, I’m half
human again. However, the barometric pressure has dropped, the waves are
up and we’re at it again. The great news is, at 1:30 p.m. we are
officially halfway across the Drake.
Getting to Know You
ARSV Laurence M. Gould, a.k.a., The Ship
ARSV = Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel
She was built in Louisiana in 1997, and measures 230 feet long by 46 feet
wide. The LMG is not and icebreaker, but is instead rated as
icehardened. In other words, she’s good for going through ice 1 foot deep,
at a speed of 3 knots. Full speed, for our purposes and ocean conditions,
is about 10 knots. That ice-related 3 knot rating makes sense you don’t
want to get stuck in ice going full speed, or else you won’t have any power
to back out of it.
Take a look at the ship’s ‘brochure’ to see a bit of the history behind the
ship and the fine gentleman after whom it was
So, don't hesitate to email
questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
S°58 52.478’ W63° 49.785’
Air Temp: 2.6°C Wind Chill: -15.7°C
Chili, soup and cold cuts; Chicken, pasta primavera, rice,
salad, and cookies.
Slant Man Walking
LMG in Port Foster at Deception Island. [Photo by
This delicate and unusual star was only about the size of a nickel.
[Microscope photo by Susie Balser]
Rebecca Hunter stands by as the XBT launcher is reloaded in Drake Passage.
Reloading the XBT launcher in Drake Passage is no small feat.