The Great Outdoors
I tossed and turned all night replaying the different events I have experienced thus far.... so much to tell.... so little time. It is 4 AM and here I am at the computer trying to put to words my reflections at sea. Days and nights are blurred since it is light most of the time. The sun is out at 1 AM when I have gone to bed at that those times, or was it later? And the sun would be shinning now if it were not for the fog. Let's step back in time for a moment...to our second station at 73 degrees latitude, our farthest jaunt north. The evening sky was like nothing I have experienced before. It was like being in a giant dome made of silk and where the sky touched the water was a faint illumination. No sounds could be heard other than the ships engines and the winch bringing nets, grabs, or cores in or out of the sea. So peaceful and at the same time so very exciting! The air is crisp and clean. We have experienced all types of weather: fog, drizzle, fog, rain, snow, and fog. (Not necessarily in that order, but I think you got the picture that we have fog on and off.) Oh and let's not forget about the wind.... yes...the wind has blown so hard that my hard hat has blown off my head twice to bounce across the deck.
Today we will be over Barrow Canyon and sampling to 110 m (versus Hanna Shoals depth of 40-50 m). The currents are swift here (1-2 knots) and we are the farthest east in our sampling program. What treasures are to unfold today?
Aboard the Healy
We are experiencing some choppy waves, but the ship is just gently rocking in response. Most of the time you cannot tell we are out at sea; it is a smooth sailing due to the ship's hull design. There are two gyms on board and even if I had time to use them, going up and down the ladders (stairs) and opening up the hatches (doors) is exercise enough. I believe the ladders are at a 45-degree angle, if not they feel like it. My room is on the second deck, the science lab is deck zero, the laundry room is one deck below the lab and the bridge is on deck five. At night the lights in the halls are red which gives you enough light to move around in the dark and dark enough to allow others to sleep. We may not know what time it is, but we instinctively know when it is time to eat. They serve four meals a day and the last one is called mid-rats (midnight rations). Why four meals? Well there are three 8-hour shifts for the crew, and sometimes they have to pull a 16-hour shift. And speaking of the crew, they are out in the elements with us, helping to keep us safe, and assisting with the scientific equipment on the back deck. Oh, there is not a set schedule for the science teams either. They work days and nights, and often both. The stations are worked as we come upon them.
My job is not only to journal but to mainly help sieve the mud from the two deployments of the double van Veen grab. In addition, I have tended the line for the hand net. We average about two stations a day with three of the four grabs per station to be sieved for quantitative analysis. To name a few, we have had killer clay sediments, compacted mats of tubeworms, and sediments full of gravel. Each station's sediment (mud) has had a different composition and a different mixture of organisms.