We'll take a litte break from science talk today to chat about life on the Healy. The Healy is a US Coast Guard vessel that is 420 feet long with a crew of about 60 to 80 people and 40 researchers at a time. This means that safety is very important. First, fire on a ship can be very dangerous so there are hoses in every hallway and every large room. Cleaning out the lint trap in the dryers is a must every time we do laundry to avoid this hazard. I always forget at home so I've had to be very diligent!
All of the hallway doors are equipped with watertight doors. The large silver handles can be difficult to use because the pressure between doors builds up in the halls. They must be opened and closed whenever you go through them and you should never put your hand between the door and the frame in case the boat shifts unexpectedly. To get from my room to the science lab, I have to go through 5 watertight doors! We also have to wear close-toed shoes at all times.
The whole ship has also done abandon ship drills where we all assemble on the helo (helicopter) deck and group into our life raft groups. Being new to the ship, Nicole Villeneuve (another member of the benthic team) and I had to get into immersion "gumby" suits in 3 minutes or less. They are called gumby suits because, well, you look like the cartoon character Gumby, when you wear them. In the case of abandoning ship, you need to be able to get the immersion suit on quickly. These suits allow you to spend more time in the water without succumbing to hypothermia.
A lot of the research that happens on the ship is done off the back deck, or fan tail. When anyone goes out there, they have to be properly outfitted. This includes a helmet with a strap, a mustang suit, and steel-toed boots. The mustang suit is very warm and bulky. They can be hard to move in at times, but they are needed in case you go overboard. At this point in the trip, I am able to get it on and off very quickly!
A Question From the Crow's Nest
How long can you survive in the Arctic Ocean without a mustang suit or "gumby" suit?
Answer from previous post: The sail drone can't sail in the Arctic in the winter months because the data collection sensors run on solar power. There is not enough sunlight that far north in the winter to charge the sensors.