Staying Safe

The news reports coming from the world north of us continue to focus on the ways in which the coronavirus is changing day-to-day life for millions upon millions of people. Yet for us, on a ship in the Southern Ocean that has been at sea and effectively quarantined, day-to-day life is much the same as it has been for the past two months. Within the science team, half of us are still working the Night Shift from midnight to noon, and half are on duty from noon to midnight. We gather as a big group twice a day for changeover meetings. The captain and members of the crew maintain their schedules of four hours on followed by eight hours off in a repeating cycle. There are still four meals served every day, although the selection has shifted, particularly in the salad bar arena. While there is still some cantaloupe left, I firmly believe that to be a garbage fruit so I usually go for canned pineapples and pears. The remaining apples are a little beyond what I'd enjoy eating. The air is still cold and the water is still icy, and the New York Times crossword (any day's) is still not a match for our collective brainpower. A few new items have been added into the mix to keep us occupied.

There are now opportunities for:

  • Snowball fights

    Snowball fight on the deck of the Nathaniel B. Palmer
    Santi Munevar prepares to throw a snowball on the forward deck of the Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker.

  • Virtual reality plank walking

    Chuck Holloway a tests out virtual reality headset
    Marine Tech Chuck Holloway "walks the plank" using a virtual reality headset.

  • Ping pong in the helicopter hangar (where there is room because we don't have a helicopter with us)

    Ping pong in the helo hangar
    Grad students Asmara Lehrman and Lily Dove try their hand at ping pong in the helo hangar of the Nathanial B. Palmer.

We are all anxious to get home but hope our families and friends know that we are well-fed, well-entertained, and well-supported here. We are working our way back to you all.

I think one of the things that increases anxiety here is that we are only hearing the bad news. The comedian Demetri Martin has a bit in which he wonders why there aren't any happy mysteries. It is always, "who stole the money?" or "who scratched my car?" It is never, "hey, who made cookies?" or "oh man, who washed all the dishes?" Along the same lines, we aren't getting any good and boring stories. It would be great to see headlines like, "Area man buys two pounds of peaches, some spinach, and a package of razor blades at local supermarket," or "Brooklyn teacher takes dogs for walk around the neighborhood." Send us a headline for your day of ordinary happenings to remind us that there are still cookies being made and dishes being washed by someone other than me.

Onboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer icebreaker in the Amundsen Sea off the southwest coast of Antarctica.
Weather Summary
Cold and cloudy
-7 C
Wind Speed
6.4 knots out of the south
Wind Chill
-17.5 C


Carlos Brunet

So just a short anecdote:
My daughter went for supplies for the week and decided to make some domas (stuffed grape leaves) the main component to wrap the filling being grape leaves. Well the local exotic store had a bundle of leaves which she bought but once at home found out that the bundle was banana leaves. A bit to chewy for domas but excellent for chicken breast wrapped in banana leaves. Laura, don't give your sister a hard time ;>)

We continue to search for toilet paper... none to be had. So we wonder just how much... fecal matter (keeping it in science terms)... can possibly be generated by those hoarding. There are a few jokes there but would probably be banned. Be safe and enjoy Nature out there!

Ted Mirczak

Got to see 4 cats on our morning walk !

William H Bonney

Getting warmer because I saw a turtle the other day. Spring is here today in Massachusetts (and in the rest of our hemisphere too; hope to see you up here safe and sound, Sarah)!

Jean Nieman

Headline: Guilderland woman has 2 crockpots and 1 stockpot going in monthly frenzy of cooking. Friends are picking up servings from her front step.