November 23, 1995
Location: 66 20' South Latitude x 79 45' west Longitude Approximately
180 miles from Peter I Island.
My day started today at 12:00 midnight. Jim Lundy and I switched watch
shifts. My new watch partner is Dr. Marta Ghidella from the Argentine
Antarctic Institute. She is a fascinating person who began her career as a
parcticle physicist and is now doing research on gravity anomalies in
Antarctica. She is also involved with a project with the European Space
program to launch a satellite to be positioned over the Antarctic to collect
a variety of scientific data about the area.
Today was also our first day to make a time change. At 2:00 AM local time
we changed our clocks back to 1:00 AM. Today, Thanksgiving, was 25 hours
long here on the ship. I had been up many times past midnight during the
cruise, but we had never been this far south. Throughout the whole watch,
the sun never set. As we moved west toward New Zealand, the sun hovered on
the horizon. It seemed to pause there, a small sliver of yellow orange
caught between dusk and dawn. The sun seemed to taunt us with its
indecision. Would we have darkness or would it be light? Following less
than an hour of gray dusk, the morning sunrise began at about 1:00 AM.
People on the ship are awake and wondering around at all hours of the day
and night on the ship. It seems as if everyone's internal clocks are
broken. Meals are really no longer an indication of what time of day it is.
Thanksgiving day here on the ship was a perpetual turkey feast. Turkey,
and all the fixings, four kinds of pie, cakes and cookies were available all
day. The cooks went out of their way today to make the meals special and
memorable. Everyone ate their fill of turkey. A few diehard football fans
posted scores of the day's games that were emailed to them by family and
friends. People shared stories about home and the Thanksgivings that they
had spent away. It was a nice day filled with greetings of "Happy
Thanksgiving" and shared memories.
The seas have been very kind to us. We have all adjusted to the motion of
the ship, and we are maintaining good speed on our course toward New
Zealand. We have been averaging 11.5 knots today, and are approaching our
first away point, Peter I Island. We are using this as reference for
distance traveled. The total of 3900 miles to New Zealand is so large that
the 200 miles or so that we travel each day seems inconsequential. We are
closing in on Peter I, having gone over 600 miles. We all look to the day
when we will have gone 1000 miles marking one fourth of the trip home.
The multibeam sonar mapping of the sea floor is going well. The system
occasionally has computer problems, but the technicians are very efficient
and get the data flowing again as quickly as possible. Most of the sea
floor in this area is very flat, but we occasionally locate a small sea
mount or ridge formations. All of these features are new and will add to
the information about the topography and history of the sea floor in this
area of Antarctica.
We experimented with new ways to plot the maps today. We adjusted the
plotter so that each map represents about twelve hours of travel time on our
cruise. We put two maps on the same page so that we can see an entire day's
worth of data on each map.
5th Hour Chem.: A normal life is pretty impossible on a research ship. I
have mentioned before how difficult it is to keep track of time. Sometimes
it seems as if hours and days are meaningless and that time is measured in
the number of tasks completed and meals eaten.
Our station at Marsh Base was our only opportunity to actually visit
Antarctica. The whole cruise is designed to collect oceanographic data for
geochemistry and geophysics research.
I am looking forward to doing some star and planet gazing when we reach New
Zealand. We will have a couple of days travel and change over there.
Wis Rapids Science: Thank you for all the colorful comments. I miss you
all and cannot wait to share some "stories" with you. Keep studying hard.
WFPHS: Families that are stationed at Marsh Base remain their for the
entire year. Although flights come into and out of the base regularly,
station personnel typically only leave for emergencies.
A typical tour of duty at Marsh Base is one year. The military service
person and his family are relocated to the base and are provided with
housing for the entire year. The children are enrolled in school there and
as normal a daily routine is maintained as possible. The number of families
and children change as new men are stationed at the base.
The Marsh Base is a military base. The Chilean government feels that
Antarctica is an extension of Chilean territory. The Base is primarily
there to maintain a presence on the continent so that Chilean interests are
There are bases all over the Antarctic Continent operated by scientists and
military persons from all over the world. The largest US bases are McMurdo
and Palmer stations. There is also a station at the south pole as well.
Antarctica is an independent research area. All countries with bases here
must adhere to the rules of the International Antarctic Treaty.
Woodside Grade 2: We have not seen any polar bears, because polar bears
are only found at the north pole, not the south pole. Antarctica is the
south pole. The only animals that are found on land here are penguins, sea
lions, and seals. We have talked on the ship about what would happen if
polar bears were brought to the south pole. They probably could not
survive, because the environment here is quite a bit different that at the
One knot is equal to about 1.1 miles per hour. The knot is a measurement
of distance made up by the English. Since the earth is almost a circle in
shape at the equator, the English divided the circumference into 360 equal
divisions. Each of those divisions was divided a second time into 60
smaller pieces. The distance on the globe of these small pieces is about
1.1 miles and is the measurement of one knot.
The Drake passage is an area of ocean south of tip of South America where
oceans from the east, west and south come together. Because there is no
land in this area, winds can blow for great distances and produce huge waves
without them hitting land and stopping them. Huge storms are very common
with winds of 100 miles per hour and waves of over 40 feet. It is one of
the most difficult places in the world to sail.
A Zodiac is a small inflatable boat. It looks like a small boat that you
would fish in. It is about 15 feet long, and floats because it has pontoons
that are filled with air on each side. A small motor is used for power.
Because the boat is made of rubber and is filled with air, it floats very
easily on the water. About eight people can ride in a Zodiac at one time.
Thank you for the invitation to visit your class and show you pictures of
the trip. I hope that we can do that one day.