5 May, 2000
Arctic Cinco de Mayo
May 5, 2000
Daily Data (20:30):
Air Temp. -7.32C 18.72F
True Wind Dir. (Not Available Today)
True Wind Speed 5.0
USCGC Healy Facts:
Displacement, Full Load: 16,000LT @ Delivery
Propulsion: Diesel Electric, AC/AC Cycloconverter
Generating Plant: 4 Sultzer 12Z AU40S
Drive Motors 2 AC Synchronous, 11.2Mw
Inuit Language Lesson from Stevie Audlakiak:
Autaosek (uht ow’ zet): one
Maukok (ma’ oak): two
I had a hint that a Cinco de Mayo celebration was being planned when my roommate asked me a few days ago about making glue for a papier-mâché Polar Bear piñata. A few minutes later, I went down the hall to the Sick Bay (Healy clinic) and found CDR Schoen, Dr. Barbara, splattered with flour and sitting on the floor in front of the examination table. She was happily mixing shredded newspapers and homemade glue. Next to her was a Polar Bear form in six balloon shapes-large body, head and four legs with a few beginning strips of papier-mâché on the body. I could already visualize that it was going to be a darling creation.
By early afternoon, in fact when the ice profile team I was on was ready to return to the Healy, the gangway was lowered directly onto the ice floe. What a sight! It was time to celebrate. The parameters of our safe area, the length of the Healy starboard side and within the bounds of the Bear Watch duty personnel were "piped" on board (announced loudly over the ship broadcast system to facilitate hearing by everyone). As our team trudged up the gangway for a late lunch, crew and travelers were already heading for fun on the ice.
The Polar Bear piñata dangled from the crane, heavy ropes where waiting for the tug-of-war teams, and the Healy Inuit guides, James and Stevie, were in the machine shop making knives to cut snow for their demonstration of building a snow house (igloo). Cinco de Mayo Arctic style.
I don't suppose it would surprise you that the galley carried out the theme. Dinner back on the ship was a delicious Mexican feast. I did it justice. After spending the day on the ice floe with morning work and late afternoon fun, I was cold and famished. A refreshing ship's two-minute shower (get wet, water off and soap up, rinse) and a tasty hot meal refreshed me for continued late evening work.
In the midst of the afternoon entertainment, I couldn't help but remember the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica, and our celebrations there. Any event would be turned into an occasion. I recalled our County Fair and Barbeque on the ice.
Remote and isolated station work, in my opinion, is similar to icebreaker life-styles. Daily I see familiar patterns from the influence of climate and environment on living in confined and isolated conditions; the impacts on individuals, the impacts on larger groups.
Although they are very different, the opposites of the boundaries of life at the Poles have similarities. As a coping mechanism to seven-day work routines to shipboard living, built-in moral boosters such as our Arctic Cinco de Mayo celebration serve an important function.
The Healy was hove-to (parked) last night and all day today for performance characteristics testing and profiling ice thicknesses. A few hours on the ice floe celebrating Arctic Cinco de Mayo was a welcome diversion in the midst of our work.
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