18 September, 2001
Dredging Up Success
Today we completed our 82nd dredge. This is an amazing accomplishment considering we expected to get half as many rocks as we now have over the course of our trip. And we still have 9 days of dredging left! As we continue eastward on our expedition, we are encountering very hard, old ice that is slowing us down a bit, but that doesn't stop our attempts. The ship is rattling and humming along and hasn't been stuck even one time.
Dredging in the ice can be most frustrating at times. To dredge in adverse conditions, we must first pick a location. Next, we try to get to the location. Sometimes the ice cover prevents us from doing this. The crew is wonderful at knowing when ice floes are moving in and would create a burden on the ability to successfully dredge. We often must forgo a selected site and pick a new one when this is the case. When we do get to a dredge area, we must clear a path for the Healy to tow the dredge behind. This may involve turning around several times to cut and recut a lead. This can take hours to accomplish! Then, depending on the drift, the ice may move back into the path before we can dredge. This expedition marks the very first attempt at dredging in such conditions, so there were no comparisons to be made. We are setting the standard for other such expeditions in the future.
Life in the Arctic continues to be a roller-coaster ride and a guessing game. The weather seems to change instantly, and the ice floes take on a life of their own. The philosophy "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" comes to mind when I think about the 9 days to come in our final attempt to collect data from this last, unsampled part of our planet.
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