14 April, 1999
Subject: beightol journal 04/14/99
I awoke in total darkness and quietness…a still ship, a day before it left port. I climbed to the top deck and
watched the sunrise, I saw yet another rainbow. I’ve come to associate the rainbow with Tierra del Fuego
and the Straits of Magellan…like symbolically touching the toe of the statue in downtown Punta Arenas,
they were becoming symbolic of the promise to return safely from the journey. I saw a rainbow
immediately off the plane in Santiago, and then at least 2 each day since then. Weather conditions due to
the proximity of the Andes to the relatively warm oceans produce a low ceiling for clouds, which then
refract the sun’s rays and form plenty of rainbows!
Today I completed the installation of the weather station and found that it would not run properly under the
windows program. I then set out to reprogram it using QBASIC, falling back on programming skills I’d
learned in high school (see, never say “why am I learning this? I’ll never use it!” – you just don’t know
when some math, science, history, or language will come in use…another case in point - I’ve only been
able to speak spanish for the last 3 days, I sure am glad I studied this in high school too!). I am still
working on the program and expect it to be operational within a day or two.
I took a taxi into the free trade zone (Zona Franca) where I bought a leatherman tool and camcorder battery
from which the digitized images accompanying this journal were made possible.
While at the Zona Franca, I met up with the biologist for the trip, Franz. He studied fjord ecosystems for
his PhD and was invited to join the cruise to help with the identification of Antarctic sea life forms.
Apparently there were some creatures brought up in the dredges last cruise (1995, see Stevenoski’s
journals) that were not able to be identified. Franz has studied these waters, even as far as SCUBA diving
in polar waters! Talk about eXtreme Science! We ended up taking the bus back through the side streets of
Punta Arenas, talking with several school children about what they liked to study. Science seems to have a
mixed reception everywhere!
Upon our return, we found we had missed one of the plentiful and frequent meals (this time, lunch), so we
pulled out the bread, ham and cheese kept in the ship’s coolers and built ourselves an impromptu feast.
Food seems to be a big part of the day, with huge meals served 5 times a day (breakfast, lunch 2 dinners
and what they call “midnight rats” – midnight rations, basically leftovers from the day, including huge
amounts of pasteries and breads). It looks like it will be tough to not gain weight!
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