13 November, 2000
Greetings from the Gould;
I am well on my way to Palmer Station and should arrive on November 18. As soon as we departed Punta Arenas all passengers on the Gould were called to the general meeting room for a safety meeting. There we learned what to do in case of an emergency, such as how to put on our life vests and Mustang suits. A Mustang suit is a neoprene suit that covers your entire body other than a small portion around your face. With a water temperature around freezing a Mustang suit is a must if you are going to survive more than a couple of minutes in the water. We also entered one of the lifeboats and strapped ourselves in. The lifeboats seat about 45 people and are totally enclosed. It almost looks like a mini-submarine. The safety of everyone on-board is a high priority.
We have been traveling now for several hours. This trip represents a lot of "firsts" for me. This is my first trip on a ship. I have delayed taking any sea sickness medicine in the hopes that I won't get sick. Up till now I have felt fine, but in the middle of the night the ocean began to get rougher. In fact, in several hours we will be rounding Cape Horn. Here the waters from the Atlantic and the Pacific mix and are said to be the most turbulent waters on the planet. The waves are predicted to be twenty to thirty feet high. The crew has informed everyone to make sure they secure all of their belongings for the rough waters ahead. Since the ship is already rocking quite a bit, it might be a good time to take some medicine.
I have met several people on board. We will be stopping at Cape Shirreff to leave four researchers who will be looking at penguin breeding habits. They will be examining colonies of Gentoos and Chinstraps. This group will remain on Cape Shirreff until March. This United States research team will be meeting a group of 3 Chilean researchers to do their study. They will keep in daily contact with Palmer Station to ensure their safety. The only other contact they will have is a supply ship that will stop by once a month.
Last night I joined several people on-deck that were birding. There were an amazing number of birds to see. We spotted Skuas, Cormorants, an Albatross and some Magellanic penguins. These penguins were rafting. This means the penguins were floating together in a large group on the surface of the ocean. We also spotted some Commerson dolphins. They were bow diving or diving right in front of the ship. They seemed to be enjoying this game.
Stay tuned to tomorrows exciting episode"Sea Sick in Bed" or "Big Waves Everywhere!"
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