Sunday, 24 March 2013

 Day 9 - Letting the Waves Roll Bye

We feel we've seen enough seesawing to see us through a few lifetimes. In order to sleep we must place as many pillows between our head and the wall as our head and the mattress. By midday we are still waiting, bobbing up and down on the spot with the skipper on the bridge keeping the nose into the wind.

Photo: The last Eagrit flew away as soon as it was approached. 

The blob measurers sit in a small white container on the back deck. Walking too and from the ship they must run a gauntlet of crashing waves and spray. The stoppage of CTDs due to the waves should be an opportunity to catch up through the night. Headway is made but then a freak wave drenches the container and breaches the main door. Frantically Ben, Siobhan and Marie-Jose remove the precious electronics and seal the samples. It isn?t until midday that they running again. Despite the exhaustion they are ready to show us some results.

Photo: Marie-Jo shows us her blob measurements.

What we are doing is like dropping some cordial (squash) into a river and then trying to find it again. The catch is we are blindfolded, only get to go to the river every few hours and must walk in straight lines picking up little drops of water and tasting them to see if they taste like squash...The blob of tracer was dropped into the Pacific Ocean more than 4 years ago. Where we sit, at the confluence of the Pacific and Atlantic, the blob is visible in the measurements. It appears as a clear lump around a kilometer down (they haven?t let us try it to see if it?s raspberry or lime flavor). The concentrations we measure are very low compared to previous cruises (weak cordial), which probably means the whole thing is well into the Atlantic by now and is mixing a lot as it goes. Hopefully we will catch the thick of it on our way back around.

As the boat continues to rock, I sit down in my finest shirt to have dinner in the officers and scientists? mess. Menus are printed each day with pudding on offer lunch and dinner. Tables are set with the British Antarctic Surveys best silver. And a cheese board accompanies the end of each meal. Captain Hamish and I are served our salmon salad followed by steak with pepper sauce with the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip looking down upon us approvingly. The way things work on this ship is a vestige of a bygone era. An era when there where hierarchies where a way of life. Hierarchies accentuated in the Military and Merchant Navy. There is a duty mess where we can go to eat if shifts coincide with meal times and a third, separate mess is reserved for the crew only. For Andrew and I, who began see-going on Australian ships, where everyone eats together and if you want it you get it yourself, the a-la-carte service and dress code of the officers mess are something of a curiosity. Although I should be grateful; only a couple of years ago I would have needed a to wear a tie.

Photo: Hamish and Lizzy. I must admit Hamish didn't appreciate me taking this.

1 comment:

  1. You are all heroes! I am sitting in a storm at the opposite end of the globe but not running scientific analysis and not on the ocean! Siobhan's mum