Good news, we have cleared the thick ice and are now in relatively open waters. Mapping of the sea floor with the multi beam and CHIRP systems is in full swing. The PI's are meeting as I write to plan the next 6 days. That is the number of days we have left for science. We have worked around the clock through good and bad conditions to gather as much data and samples from this undiscovered region. But we are not done yet! It appears we will have reasonable weather to begin deployments shortly.
The Deck Officers.
A few questions to those who drive. How is your ability to parallel park? How about a 3 point turn? If you are like me probably not so great. Ok now imagine turning a 93.9 by 18.3 meter (do the math) ship that is 6 stories high from the water level, while completely encased in sea ice. This is just one of the challenges the Deck Officers must tackle while at sea. We are fortunate to have 4 highly skilled and experienced ones on The Palmer. Most have multiple years of experience in Antarctic waters and have received degrees from a number of Universities. They have seen everything.
The ship is equipped with an impressive array of navigational and computer equipment that help with the maneuvering. I have a journal I am working on about all the cool gadgets on the ship. However it ultimately gets down to the skill and patience by the officers to keep the ship moving.
I have had a fair amount of time being able to talk to all 4 of the deck officers. They are true professionals. Each of them works a 4 hour shift with a required 8 hour break between. It is often extremely tedious work that requires complete focus at all times. That being said they are always calm and really seem to enjoy what they do. As one of them puts it, "we are the only people besides pirates that can back up and ram forward over and over again". All of them love their music, and are very well read. They seem very at ease at sea. I asked Rob how he copes with long tours. He told me, routines and good books. I don't plan on becoming a deck officer I the foreseeable future, but thanks for the advice. Unfortunately Ship master or Captain Sebastian is camera shy, but here are the other mates on board.