4 February, 1998
Hello from the bottom of the world! Things are progressing well here in the Ross Sea. Today, we are in the middle of a rather long Multibeam survey. We have been doing this all day today and we will be doing this most of tomorrow. What that means is that we aren't towing any gear (seismic or deep tow) and we aren't taking any cores. So, we are trying to travel about 10 knots (depending on ice) and map the bottom of the sea floor. If we find anything that looks parcticularly interesting (that might have been left by a glacier), we back track a little to cover that parcticular area in more detail.
Due to the fact that there wasn't much happening during our watches today (just keeping the log book every 15 minutes and watching the Bathy-2000), we split it up into 3 hour segments. I kept log for the first three hours, and spent much of the rest of the day talking to the Captain and the Mates. I had a great time learning about all of their experiences, and the Captain even let me drive the ship for a little while! It was a lot of fun. I had to steer it around some pieces of ice . . . and I really enjoyed it! This ship doesn't have a steering wheel. Instead, it has a lever that moves left and right -- if you move it to the left, then the ship goes to the left! It is really neat to be able to control something this large!
Captain Joe Borkowski has been the Captain of this ship since it was first put in the water in 1992. Captain Joe is 42 years old and he calls Buloxi, Mississippi, home. He has a wife back in Mississippi, and four daughters (ages 12, 14, 19, and 21). He has been around boats his whole life, and he can't imagine doing anything else. Both his grandfather and his father were Captains of ships, too -- first in the Gulf of Mexico on shrimp boats, and then for oil company supply ships. Captain Joe started off as a deck hand for his dad. He spent time working in the engine room, too, and within four years worked his way up to Mate and then to Captain. His first job as Captain was in 1976, when he worked aboard a ship leased by an oil company called the State Wave. He was working for Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO), which is the company that owns the Nathaniel B. Palmer, when the Palmer was completed in 1992. Captain Joe was asked by the company to drive the NBP down in Antarctica, and he jumped at the opportunity! He had to pass additional exams for his license to drive this icebreaker and he earned his Unlimited Master License . . . so now Captain Joe can operate basically anything that floats in the waters of the world! Captain Joe loves his job, and his goal is that the Nathaniel B. Palmer stays at the top of the list for ships in Antarctica!
Chief Mate Lee Crowe grew up on the Gulf Coast. He is 39 and lives in Long Beach, Mississippi, with his wife, Barbara, and their two children (Sarah, who is 12; and Joshua, who is 9). Lee's family has always had boats, and he loved sailing even as a child. In high school, he took a marine biology class that changed the course of his life. While taking a field trip to the National Marine Fisheries, he knew that he wanted to work on the ship that their class was visiting! When he graduated from high school, he was still too young to fulfill his dream . . . so he started college. A year later, he went to work on the ship; and he finished his college education slowly over the next several years while continuing to work at sea for various companies. He eventually graduated from Gulf Coast Community College with a degree in Maritime Technology (boat driving). He received his Chief Mate License in 1992, while he was working for an oil company. Edison Chouest Offshore bought the ship that he was working on in late 1993. He asked about transferring to Antarctica, and he was able to come down here after about 6 months working as the Captain on a seismic ship for ECO in the Gulf of Mexico. He thinks that working in Antarctica is fun and interesting . . . and he is still hooked even today!
Second Mate Dick Wisner grew up along the Oregon coast. His father was a fisherman, and beginning when he was 10, Dick went to work at sea during the summers with his father. Dick is 47 and still calls Oregon home. He has three children that live there with their mother (a daughter who's 11, a son who's almost 17, and a daughter who's 19), and he has a girlfriend that is working on a ship in the Pacific Northwest. He was first licensed by the Coast Guard in 1969, and has worked his way up to have licenses that include a Chief Mate License as well as a Pilot License and a Master License. This is his first trip to Antarctica, and this is his first cruise. He had applied to come to Antarctica, and he received a call from ECO last spring . . . but the actual opening didn't come until January, 1998, when the Lawrence M. Gould (a brand new ship) was ready to come Antarctica (one of the other TEA teachers is on the Gould right now). Since some of the NBP crew were transferred to the new ship, Dick was one of the lucky people hired for the Palmer. He is really enjoying Antarctica, and he thinks this is a great way to earn a living.
Our Third Mate is Troy Endicott. Troy grew up in Northeast Texas (not very close to the ocean), but he knew that he wanted to do something with the sea for his career. Troy went to college at the Maritime Academy in Galveston, Texas (a satellite campus of Texas A & M), and he graduated with a degree in Science and a Third Mate License. After graduation, he took a job in the Gulf of Mexico with a geophysical company. The company that he worked for contracted some vessels from Edison Chouest Offshore, and Troy called ECO and requested to work in Antarctica (he had read an arcticle about the NBP and thought it sounded really neat). He is 23 years old, and is just finishing his first three months of work down here. He will be taking a vacation back to Texas during March before coming back to the Palmer. He is engaged to be married in July, and he really enjoys working here in Antarctica. He is impressed by the ship itself, and he thinks that the job is fun, interesting, and challenging.
Do you remember the question from yesterday? Who were Amundson and Scott? Since we've run out of room today, we'll look at their stories tomorrow. Thanks for the email . . . I LOVE the questions that everyone is asking!
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