10 February, 1998
This morning, we tried to deploy another sediment trap. The charts indicated plenty of depth, but when it was deployed, the bright yellow floats, called hard hats, didn't go below the surface. Questions on whether or not the line connecting the floats to the sediment trap and the weights had snapped or whether the trap did not go down deep enough. We looked at the chart of the bay floor on the echo-sounder and we were over a seamount! On either side of the bay, steep cliffs rise suddenly from the water forming grand mountains. This "mountain" under us was just as steep, just not as high. After cruising around the bay and mapping the floor, we found that most of the bay floor was like this and not a good place to put a sediment trap. Even if the sediment trap found its way between sea mounts, the currents would carry the sediments in an upper level current rather than let them sink down as more level sea beds allow.
After picking up the sediment trap, we began to travel up Marguerite Bay to an area named Tickle Passage. The passage links Marguerite Bay with open water along the peninsula. All along the way the passage has been getting more and more narrow, with steep volcanic mountains on both sides, glaciers slipping between them, giving birth to icebergs. The tour has been filled with wondrous sights. One exposed cliff had a tremendous reddish-brown streak slanting down through it. One glacial valley was framed by a soft rainbow.
The only problem with Tickle Passage is that it gets narrow enough that pack ice gets jammed up in it at times. Pack ice is sea-formed ice that is not bound to the land. It is not as deep as glacial ice and it is the type of ice this ship was designed to handle. The captain wants to test the ship against the ice it was designed to move through. He is a cautious captain and will be very careful, but it is necessary to see what the ship can do when there is no emergency situation at hand so he can back off if things aren't going as he wishes. As I write, we have not yet made it to Tickle Passage. We have a CTD to deploy and must go enough distance up that I would not make the deadline for getting this journal off in time for the regular posting. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how we did in the pack ice!
In he meantime, I want to reassure those to whom it appears that we do nothing but work. Matter of fact, we try to find things to celebrate. Birthdays are a perfect excuse for Tiger to show off his baking skills. Kim celebrated her birthday today to the *strains* of Happy Birthday! OK so we aren't ready to cut a CD yet. We were at least very vigorous in our good wishes for the birthday girl! Next on the celebration list is to commemorate crossing the Antarctic Circle four times. By the end of the cruise, we will have done so. Apparently, this calls for a VERY BIG celebration and initiation for those of us who have not crossed the Antarctic Circle before. I wonder what they have in mind....whimper....tremble! I will let you know what happens when it does. I know better than to think we will get off with no initiation!
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