12 February, 1998
Hi from the NBP! Wow -- this has been a very busy day! It started off with some very bad news. The Multibeam, which uses side-scan sonar from the bottom of the ship to map the seafloor, stopped working very early this morning. The night crew and the computer people worked quite a bit on it, but it was still down when I started at 6:00 a.m. As it turned out, it was a software problem. Once the backup copy of the software was reloaded, things were back to normal. We were all VERY RELIEVED! We ran a deep tow survey today that lasted about 6 hours, which was followed by a Multibeam survey and then a grab sample. In addition, I answered lots of email, sieved some of that kasten core from yesterday, and finished my ping editing. It's amazing how quickly 12-13 hours can fly by! Tonight, the night crew will be taking more grab samples, doing another Multibeam survey, and taking two kasten cores. In about 2 days we will be heading towards the Western Ross Sea and the coast.
When we keep log in the Dry Lab, we have to write down lots of information every 15 minutes. There is usually some "down" time after we are finished writing and before we have to start all over again. I really like to look out the portholes during this time and watch the sea! I love looking at the ocean, the ice, and the weather. Today, I saw a whole bunch of seals. On one piece of ice, there were 4 seals and 2 penguins! On the next piece of ice, there were 3 more seals! It was great!! They were crabeater seals. Do you remember what crabeater seals eat? (hint: not crab! and not penguins!) I was really excited when I saw all of these animals. I grabbed my camera, but they floated by too quickly (and they were a little too far away) for me to take a picture. After I got off my watch, I went out on the bow of the ship to enjoy the environment. I love to get out the warm clothes and stand outside looking at everything. It is so peaceful and wonderful watching everything from the front of the ship. What a great view! While I was out there, I did see another penguin. Chief Mate Lee says that I missed seeing some more seals by just a few minutes.
Well, today I wanted to talk about the Marine Technicians (MTs) on the ship. Marine Technicians are employees of Antarctic Support Associates (ASA). There are four MTs aboard the Palmer for this cruise, so today we will look at 2 of them and then tomorrow we will look at the other two (hopefully). Marine Technicians are responsible for the deck and everything on it. This includes all of the equipment that goes into the water -- such as the corers, the seismic stuff, the deep tow, the CTD, the zodiacs, etc. They maintain all of this equipment, and they help the scientists with a lot of the manual labor when this equipment is being used.
The Senior Marine Technician is 39 year old Barney Kane. Barney is originally from Oregon, but now he lives in Colorado with his 13 year old daughter and 15 year old son. Barney joined the Army after graduating from high school. After that, he went to a Diesel Mechanics trade school and then he was hired by Western Geophysical to work in Alaska as the Head Camp Mechanic while they were exploring for oil. From there, he worked as a millwright for a plywood mill in Oregon. A millwright is a person who can fix anything and does general maintenance. He eventually went back to Western Geophysical where he worked on a seismic ship in the Gulf during the winter and back in Alaska during the summer. The Captain of the seismic ship asked him if he would be interested in working with seismic in Antarctica, and within a short time he was hired by Jim Holik (our Marine Projects Coordinator). Barney began working for ASA in 1993 as an MT. After 3 cruises, he was promoted to Senior MT. As a full-time employee, he usually parcticipates in 2-3 cruises per year and works with the ships during their annual maintenance period. Back at the Denver office, Barney is responsible for many things that include hiring/firing MTs, ordering parts, and scheduling training for new MTs. Barney has been a good recruiter of people to work in Antarctica. If you remember the journal from February 10th, Barney recruited our Senior ET, Tim Bjokne, to work for ASA. One of our other MTs, Jesse Doren, is also on this ship because of Barney.
Jesse is from Colorado and he is 22 years old. He has experience in construction and he has always been good at working with things that are mechanical. Jesse met Barney as a casual acquaintance in the Denver area. After talking a bit, Barney told Jesse about working in Antarctica. Although Jesse didn't apply for a job right away, the idea remained in the back of his head. A year or so later, Jesse did apply . . . and he started working for ASA this past October. His first assignment was working on the Lawrence M. Gould -- the new Antarctic research vessel that is currently on its first cruise. He helped take the equipment from the old ship (called the Polar Duke), and he helped set up the equipment on the Gould. Working in the Gulf of Mexico to help out with the Gould was the first time that Jessie had ever been on a ship! Now, he is working on his first cruise. He will remain on the NBP for the next group of scientists, and then he will return home to Colorado. Jesse is contracted to work for the ASA -- which means that he works for them part-time. He has a one year contract, and he will be paid to work about 6 months during that year. Most contracted people on the ship work for 2 cruises and then have 2 cruises off . . . and they continue this pattern throughout the year. Jesse is really enjoying his work in Antarctica, and he is glad that he met Barney and heard about this job!
I can't believe that we only have one more week before we arrive back at McMurdo Station. The time is flying by so quickly! I really enjoy keeping this journal and reading/answering your email . . . but remember that any questions to this address must be sent by 11:00 p.m. on February 19 (your time). After that, you can email me at my home address -- it just might take a few days before I can answer. I will continue to send journal entries as long as I can find a computer to use at McMurdo Station. As of now, (and weather permitting), I am scheduled to fly back to New Zealand on February 21, 1998. Thanks for writing . . . I look forward to hearing from you soon!
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