3 February, 1998
Greetings from way down south! It's been a little cooler outside today with temperatures hovering around -3 to -4 degrees Celsius. We have been blessed, for the most part, with pretty good weather. Last night's shift did have a minor snow storm (the ship had to travel at 2 knots because Chief Mate Lee couldn't see the water or the ice). Normally we travel around 10 knots. I haven't seen much weather like that, however. Even with today's lower temperatures, it's still warmer here than it is on a typical winter day in much of the United States. Of course, being out on the water does help to moderate the temperature. I'm sure it was MUCH colder today at Amundsen-Scott Station (South Pole). Just who were Amundsen and Scott to have the United States use their names for the research station at the South Pole?
This morning, we finished our last core for a few days. It was a 20 foot piston core/trigger core combination. Unfortunately, only about 1 1/2 feet of sediments were in the core. All of the soft mud that was supposed to be on the top (based on the Bathy-2000 and the Seismic) was gone! We figured that the piston core was hitting the bottom so hard that it blew all the mud away. So, we put down a kasten core (which goes a lot slower) -- and got 10 feet of green (diatomaceous) mud. Do you remember what the green mud tells us about an area? (See my journal for January 22, 1998) Now, we are making a detailed map of a rather large area. So, we have about 30 hours of just Multibeam before adding the Deep Tow for the following 40 hours. If we find something interesting in the printout from the Bathy-2000, we will take a few extra minutes and "zig-zag" around for a more specific picture of that parcticular spot. Without any coring or seismic, things will probably be fairly quiet around here for the next 2-3 days.
With our lunch today, we had homemade strawberry ice cream for dessert (can you tell which part of the meal is my favorite)? I talked to Ernest about just how he goes about buying and storing food for this ship, and I had quite a lesson! This ship works pretty much full time down here in Antarctica. It does spend a month or so getting checked and repaired (usually in New Zealand) each year. Otherwise, there are research cruises going on most of the time. On the average, Ernest has to cook for about 50 people (we have a small cruise with about 40 total people) every day. In addition, he has to plan for four meals a day. Since the ship works around the clock, some people are ready for "lunch" at midnight!
Most food supplies are purchased for 6 months at a time. The majority of it is stored in huge walk-in coolers or freezers. Others, like canned goods and dried foods, are kept in large storerooms. There are 2 storerooms just for food, and another one for paper products and janitorial products. After looking at his 6-month grocery list, I was really surprised at how much food he has to buy! Without going in to all of the details, here are some of the highlights:
4942 pounds of flour
2025 pounds of rice (rice is served at every meal)
560 cases of orange juice boxes (24 boxes per case)
1081 pounds of granulated sugar
72 bottles of olive oil
648 boxes of baking powder
22 pounds of pecan pieces
42 cases of canned vegetables
233 cases of frozen vegetables
200 loaves of bread
1588 pounds of french fries
12 cases of stuffed green olives
11,000 pounds of frozen meat (including 2400 pounds of ground beef, 1700 pounds of various steaks, 3000 pounds of chicken, 500 pounds of turkey, 800 pounds of bacon, 800 pounds of pork baby back ribs, 800 pounds of fish fillets, and 154 pounds of ox tail ... for starters)
Ernest also buys some products more frequently (those that can't keep as long). I was surprised to learn that our milk doesn't fit in this category! Actually, our milk has a shelf life of up to six months because it is treated with high temperatures before it is packaged in cartons. Eggs are purchased about three times a year. On the average, he buys 70 cases of eggs every four months (with each case holding 180 eggs). He also buys syrup for the soft drink machine about every four months. I was surprised that the ship provided soft drinks -- this is the first year that they have been offered on the NBP. Before loading the ship for this cruise, Ernest purchased a lot of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and dairy products. Things like buttermilk, heavy cream, and cream cheese don't last from cruise to cruise. A lot of our fresh produce that he purchased (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers) is almost gone now. The bananas and melons were gone about a week ago. Other fresh produce like apples and oranges are still available. The potatoes (all 770 pounds of them) will last for our entire cruise.
I can't imagine having to plan for that many groceries, that many people, and that many meals! Ernest has three other people that help him in the galley. One of them helps to cook (Nestar), and the other two are called galley hands (Nora and Marta). Ernest and Nestar split which meals they cook. Ernest takes dinner and mid-rats while Nestar takes breakfast and lunch. The galley hands make a lot of our desserts as well as keep up things like the salad bar. They all do a great job! Everyone who works in the galley is a part of the crew on the ship. The crew members stay with the ship full time. They leave the ship for their vacation, but they are hired to work on the ship for most of the year. This ship is owned by a company out of New Orleans called Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO). It has been leased by the National Science Foundation for Antarctic research. The captain and the mates are also crew members. Tomorrow we'll look at their jobs in more detail. Until then . . . have a wonderful day! I know I will!!!!!!
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