10 March, 1999

March 10, 1999

Hi from the Nathaniel B. Palmer! We've had a great day today -- with nice sunshine, calm seas, and great scientific data. As soon as I woke up, we started flying the fish. It was neat to see the ice while we were up there . . . it looked like many small pieces of pancake ice were glued together to make large pancakes. After conducting a side scan survey for a few hours, we ran a multibeam survey and then took a piston core. We finished our shift with some more multibeam surveys. The bathymetry in this area is really fun to look at. All of our maps have looked very similar to the one that I sent back to the web site just a few days ago. This area looks so different from the Ross Sea where we started our scientific studies. By the way, dinner was awesome tonight -- tacos! And we had chocolate cake for dessert! I've been waiting for chocolate cake . . . it's one of my favorites!

Our question for today's journal was, "What do the Captain and the Mates do aboard the ship?" The Captain is the person who is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the ship's performance and operation. Captain Joe Borkowski has been the Captain of this ship since it was first put in the water in 1992. Captain Joe is 43 years old, and he calls Biloxi, Mississippi, home. He has four daughters who are 13, 15, 20, and 22 years old. 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 called the State Wave which was leased by an oil company. 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!

Vladimir Repin is the Ice Pilot on our expedition. During icy conditions, he and Captain Joe split the day and work 12 hours each. In addition, he drives the ship from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each day, while the 1st Mate assumes other responsibilities around the ship. Vladimir began driving ships in 1975 in his Russian homeland. While he was driving a Swedish icebreaker in 1991, he found out about the new icebreaker (the N.B.P.) that was being built by Edison Chouest Offshore. He sent in a resume, and went out with the ship's second voyage in 1992. Vladimir has been working steadily on the Nathaniel B. Palmer since 1994. He and his wife have lived in Virginia for the last three years, and he has a 27 year old daughter in California. He enjoys driving in the ice, and he really likes the people that he gets to work with on the Palmer.

There are 3 Mates of the Nathaniel B. Palmer. The Mates are the people who drive the ship. They rotate their shifts so that they drive for four hours, and then they have 8 hours off. When the ship is at the dock, they continue keeping watch -- but instead of driving the ship they have to stand in the guard shack at the bottom of the gangway. The Mates are also responsible for the safety equipment and all of the training drills (emergency drills) on the ship. In addition, they are responsible for all of the navigation information and the communication equipment. The Chief Mate on this cruise is Tom Baker. Tom grew up in New York, and graduated from St. Bonaventure College in Alleghany, New York, in 1970. Immediately after his graduation, he joined the Navy and went to Officer Candidate School. He spent 24 years in the Navy, and retired as a Captain in 1995. He earned his Unlimited Master License in May of 1994. He met his wife when he was stationed in the Phillipines, and they have two daughters (one is almost 14, the other is 11). After spending his last three years of military service in Hawaii, they now call Tampa, Florida, their home. After his retirement, Tom started working on offshore supply vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. After a short time, he was hired to work for Edison Chouest Offshore. In March of 1997, he transferred to the Nathaniel B. Palmer. He really likes ECO, and he's glad to be working in Antarctica.

Mike Watson is the 2nd Mate on our cruise. He has been sailing ships since 1979, and he's been working on the Palmer since it set sail in 1992. Mike grew up in California, and he now lives in Tasmania (the southern coast of Australia) with his partner, Jane, and her nine year old daughter, Rebecca. After high school, Mike took classes and then graduated from the state Maritime Academy with a B.S. in Industrial Technology. As a graduate of the Academy, he had a 3rd Mate license and started sailing with an oil company in the Santa Barbara area. In 1989, he took a job with Edison Chouest Offshore. Mike has had a fascination with both ships and polar explorers since he was a child. He expressed an interest in transferring to the Nathaniel B. Palmer as the icebreaker was nearly finished. Although a crew was already selected at the time, an opening appeared before the ship actually set sail, and Mike was asked to come aboard. In April of 1996, he earned his Unlimited Master license. He likes both his job and the people that he gets to work with here in Antarctica, and he really enjoys sailing in the ice.

Third Mate Dick Wisner grew up along the Oregon coast. His father was a fisherman, and beginning when Dick was 10, he went to work at sea during the summers with his father. Dick is 48 now and still calls Oregon home. His new wife, Theresa, joined the NBP last December and is sailing as a Galley Hand. Dick was first licensed by the Coast Guard in 1969, and has worked his way up to have licenses that include Chief Mate, 1st. Class Pilot, and Master. He has just finished his first year of working in Antarctica. His first cruise on the Palmer was on our expedition last January and February. He had applied to come to Antarctica nearly a year before that, . . . but the actual opening didn't come until January 1998, when the Laurence M. Gould (a brand new ship) was ready to come to Antarctica. 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.

Well, we've talked about the Captain, the Mates, and the people that work in the galley. What other jobs do you think are found on a ship like the Nathaniel B. Palmer? We'll look at that in tomorrow's journal.

Kim Giesting

Latitude: 74 degrees 34 minutes South

Longitude: 105 degrees 01 minutes West

Temperature: -8.1 degrees C

Barometer: 967.4 mb

Wind Speed: 37.3 knots

Wind Direction: 118 degrees (from the Southeast)

Sunrise: 05:39

Sunset: 20:16

Sea ice in Pine Island Bay.

Here are two of our Mates -- Mike and Tom.

Captain Joe and Ice Pilot Vladimir are on the bridge.

Third Mate Dick is on watch and writing in his log book.

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