15 April, 1999
Today we prepared to set sail, still with no idea of whether or not our ship would have protected power for
the scientific equipment. A special technician had been flown down and worked night and day and still it
I took seasickness medication just to make sure I didn’t “become a statistic.” Having grown up on the
water, I expected no problems, but I’ve never crossed the Drake Passage, notorious for 30-40 feet waves.
Consequently, I grew more and more drowsy, a condition that made staying awake during our ship safety
meeting tough…until they had us put on our safety gear and board the liferaft! This was quite exciting, as
we all imagined what kind of conditions would warrant this extreme measure in real life…and hoping to
never see those conditions. After several of the preliminary meetings and helping with “battening down the
hatches,” I took leave in order to sleep off the medication until dinnertime.
“Battening down the hatches” involves drilling holes in the workbenches on both sides of a tremendous
amount of computer and analytical equipment brought on board by the scientists. Eyebolts were then
attached to the holes and the equipment was lashed securely to the benchtops, all in preparation for the
crossing of the Drake Passage. It is amazing, the difference between lab work and field work. Just reading
a glass volumetric flask becomes a skill on the ship as it rocks to and fro. All of the equipment is shock
mounted and water resistant, including specially mounted industrial type PC’s. I came onboard feeling
fairly competent in a lab…now, watching them assemble and secure their equipment, I feel humbled by the
skill and knowledge that these experts have gathered over the years of applying their theory and research in
the field where things quite regularly “misbehave.”
We got word that the ship would be delayed another day while they desparately worked to fix the UPS. We
sail tomorrow, UPS or not.
I hope you all got your taxes done in time : )
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