1 June, 1998
The day started off looking much like it had last night. The waves were still crashing the beach, seas 4-6 feet, foggy, and pretty miserable otside. An early morning conference with Dr. Clough indicated that the earliest things could happen would probably be around noon and it was hoped that we would have a chance to get equipment to the pier and get people and gear loaded on a landing craft at that time. Over breakfast Aaron and I could see the Polar Sea intermittently as the fog rolled in and out and overall there was not a feeling of high expectations for getting out to the ship.
Several people from the SHEBA station showed up on the noon flight from Anchorage and brought everybody up to speed on conditions up north. Terry Tucker and Bill Bosworth from CRREL and Bob Whritner from Scripps were welcome sights as I had been on AWS 96 with these guys and we had lots to catch up on. Terry and Bill had been doing ice work and explained some of the work they had been conducting on SHEBA. Aaron and I had lots of questions and didn't give the guys much of a chance to get a breath. Bob is involved with ice and weather forecasting and mentioned that things were looking good for a several hour window of calmer weather later in the afternoon.
As predicted things lightened up, the seas calmed, and the cloud ceiling lifted as the day wore on.
Lisa was in contact with the vessel and we finally got word to start hauling gear to the airport and the ship would send the choppers in to shuttle gear and people from Nome to the Polar Sea.
The ship is outfitted with two HH-65A helicopters which are used not only for rescue purposes but also to support science missions in anyway they can. During AWS 96 the choppers were used extensively to expand the area from which we could collect ice samples and also to help scout the ice pack for leads and polynyas, (large areas of open water).
By about 7:00 PM the shuttle action had started and both helos were busy as bees hauling people, baggage, and ships stores from the air field to the ship which had gotten underway and was slowly steaming away from Nome. The birds were flying with a single pilot due to the number of trips that were required and the trips back and forth continued until after midnight. Aaron and I came out at about10:30 and it was with both excitement and relief that we boarded the chopper. The flight out was a blast as I was in the co-pilot seat and Aaron was right behind me with the crew chief and as we landed on the flight deck it just felt great!
The time of midnight sun is upon us here in the northern latitudes so not picking up any cues from darkness, we made a round of the entire ship from bow to stern. Several spaces are altered from last cruise but our main working space, the dry lab, was just the same and we started almost at once to get computers and equipment set up.
It is a wonderful feeling to be back aboard Polar Sea and get re-acquainted with ships crew and fellow science team members. As our first evening on the ship comes to a close it is with a tremendous amount of anticipation that I look forward to a month of near round the clock work with a very dedicated bunch of sailors and scientists. So many people give up so much so that an expedition such as this can occur. I feel a tremendous responsibility to make sure I hold up my end of the science expectations and the Coast Guard requirements while on this cruise.
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