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Daily Journals


May 19, 2006


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 named.


So, don't hesitate to email questions to us at



S°58 52.478’ W63° 49.785’


Wind: 36kn
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
Guillermo Cervantes]


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.