28 October, 1995

Saturday, October 28, 1995

Good Morning everyone..It is 0445 hours on Saturday (early in the morning) and we are on our way to Deception Island just off the South Shetland Islands to the southeast. It is overcast and about -1.5 degrees outside. No wind and quite nice. At the present time we are running about 3-4 knots (slow) through pack ice and during the night we put quite a few miles between us and the Gerlache Straits. It is nice to be moving to some place different just to break the working ritual we have been in the last few days. I am constantly amazed at our ability to see great distances in this location. I think that it is the size of the objects and the clear air. I saw the tops of mountains on Deception Island last night and we were over 50 miles away. We have been running all night through the pack ice. It is slow going. I will give you another update on the Deception Island trip later this week. It is really suppose to be a special place, the site of old research and whaling stations, volcanic activity as recent as 1967 and a natural harbor made from a volcanic caldera. Among the pack ice have been birds, seals, and penguins.

I certainly hope that these periodic updates are not ending up being a repetition of previous writings and if they are, I apologize. I thought I might outline, before you get the extra credit question of the week (I was thinking of calling it the puzzler, but that approach is taken and those of you who listen to NPR know exactly what I am talking about as I refer to one of my favorite comedy hours on radio) what a couple of my typical days are like on the ship the Polar Duke. I tried to make that sentence longer, but was afraid the some English teachers are not only falling asleep while reading it, but some are actually staring on in amazement that an educated person would actually try to write that way. They should listen to me talk. I usually arise at or before the sun breaks the horizon. I cannot say the dawn as it begins around 0300 to 0330 hours in the morning. I mean it is getting light out even though the sun does not break the mountains till about 0515 in the morning. And when it does, it is awesome. I have tried to get some pictures of pink mountain tops in the distance that are aglow with color as the sun comes up over the mountains all around us. Sometimes with a low overcast, the sun hits the mountain tops opposite where it is rising and it is absolutely beautiful. I try at that hour of the morning to consume as much coffee as humanly possible without 1. getting sick, and 2. thinking about the cancer possibilities from caffeine even though I know there is no research to support that connection. I do miss Starbucks. Sometimes when I am up and no one else is around, I make the coffee in the am and make it twice as strong. Around here I don't think anyone notices the difference. I then head off to the computer lab or room which is in the aft section of the ship. It is one of the few times I can crank the music on the boom box without anyone else around. On a vessel like this after a period of time I believe that you can be severely hampered by the lack of privacy or private time especially if you are a private person. So I get my time early in the am. I also take this time to read my email. That makes it slightly more personal to me, because I have time to reflect upon what people write. I really appreciate what everyone has written. You will never know the feeling of being able to connect to home while away for this length of time. I a surprised at how important it has become to me and how disappointed I am when the system is shut down or mail has taken longer to get here than expected. Sometime I find myself thinking "What do you mean there is no mail, I need to get it today."

We do water pumping at 0600 and fill 4 -10 gallon carboys and some small containers with surface water. The pump we use is a small submersible that pumps about 10-15 gallons per minute depending on the draw of the pump. Usually we are done in 30 minutes. I then go back into the computer room to get ready for a CTD cast to 500 meters, programming the computer to accept the data, etc. When we launch it, it swings out on a crane and drops on a cable at about 45 meters per minute. It make take 40-45 minutes per cast so it is breakfast time when we conclude and its off to the mess hall we go. Meals are interesting. Actually the food is quite good. Any Norwegian would feel right at home. Lots of starch and more red meat than I will eat the rest of my life. It is important to eat well while at sea. Lots of fish and lunch is pretty much a wide variety of cold cuts and cheese with a few warm dishes thrown in. If you like Lox, then this is the ship for you. I swear that based on Seattle prices, there is 30-50- dollars worth of Lox every lunch on the platter. During the day I can write in my journal, work on some curriculum ideas and spend time extracting ozone materials from CD-rom materials I brought. I also have afternoon CTD casts to do. We will begin plotting the CTD data with colored pens on the plotter next week and maybe even a few tomorrow. If we stay running a diel (when we pump water every 2 hours for 24 hours) then there is not much time to do anything else between the pump times. Lunch is from 1130-1230 with dinner at 1730-1830. Dinners are big meals with lots of food, chicken beef, casseroles, etc. Eat big, get big.. After that people work in the ships lab, read, watch movies, or sleep. I have yet to watch movies on this ship the last 5 weeks other than The Hunt For The Red October about a week ago when I got suckered into it because I walked into the movie when they (the ruskies) wee going into the underwater canyon area a to get out of the North Atlantic and the Americans were waiting on the other side for them to come out. I then was hooked for the evening.

As you can see, days could become tedious if a person didn't invent ways to break the boredom and I believe that you have to choose to do that. I visit the bridge, stand outside in the cold and look around, go to the crows' nest and work on other projects in the computer room.

I usually wear jeans and a tee shirt with a sweatshirt or a fleece top for warmth around the ship and my TEVAS. Got a great idea for a TEVA ad as I had my picture taken at Palmer Station outside in the wind and snow and my Antarctic gear on with my TEVAS. I thought I would send in the picture with the following caption. How's this, "If they are good enough for Antarctica, they are good enough for home." What do you think? I am hoping to make millions with this ad idea. Oh well, I suppose some of you are actually saying that if he did that, then he really does qualify as crazy. When I go outside and the wind is blowing, I usually wear polar Sorrels with liners, wool socks, and a float coat. If it is raining or snowing, then my yellow Helly Hanson rain pants and jacket keeps me dry and warm but plastic long underwear helps too. All in all, it is pretty easy to stay warm. My hands are the things that seem to go first, so a lot of wool liners are necessary.

My memory metal glasses frames broke the other day. It seems that memory metal doesn't have much of a memory at 0 degrees and they snapped right across the bridge of my nose as I took them off. Actually I was showing someone the memory part. Didn't look real smart after that demonstration. Anyway, used electrical shrink wrap to hold them together. Works pretty well.

Okay, now is the time for the additional credit or extra credit questions of the day.




Till later.


George Palo

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