Day 9 (or is it 10? I’ve lost count.)
It’s 3:00am* on the Revelle. The ship is mostly quiet save for a handful of scientists taking underway samples through the night. I have no duties tonight though. We are still 2 days from our first station and the first Argo float does not go overboard until another week or so. The only reason I am awake this “late” is to prep my body for my upcoming night shift assignment. Given the exorbitant cost of operating a research vessel (roughly $40,000 USD per day from what I gather), most science groups split their personnel into night and day shifts. I am on the midnight to noon shift for the CTD watch. My other night shifters, Natalie and David, are also in the process of reprogramming their body clocks. They are trying to keep themselves awake by watching movies in the lounge. I have been reading The Martian for the same effect.
|Strapping in for a rough day at work. This mug belongs to Mary (our computer tech).|
The previous two nights were quite eventful. We got hit by a powerful storm that sent 30 foot waves crashing onto our deck. The strong winds combined with the powerful swells tossed our 273 foot vessel from side to side as if it was a plastic cork going down a rapid. Nothing is easy when the ground beneath you is swinging back and forth like a pendulum. The hardest part of my day was putting on my pants without falling on my face.
|Rough times in the Southern Ocean. Everyone was basically trapped inside for about 3 days. This video was taken behind the safety of a water-tight door.|
My least favorite aspect of the storm was the noise. Fun fact: when waves crash against a ship's hull, they sound like battering rams. The banging of the waves started the moment we left port, but the storm amplified the ricochets many times over. Needless to say, I slept very poorly over those few days. As I laid in bed, I just imagined myself being trapped in a giant snare drum, hurtling down a bumpy hill.
|The calm after the storm. The air was so clean and the water was so clear.|
After two hellish nights, the storm abated and the skies became clear again. I managed to recoup most of my sleep and was grateful for the much quieter (but still loud) sound scape. The swells are still large, so the deck remains off-limits. However, I did get a brief opportunity to breathe some fresh air today since I volunteered to launch an XBT (a temperature probe) off the stern of the ship.
The air is much colder now. Afternoon temperatures are just above freezing even though it is currently in the middle of summer. We are approaching 60S on a new course that has been re-configured to avoid unexpected sea-ice. In a few hours, we should start seeing small chunks of floating ice.
|One of the two of grey-headed albatrosses I saw yesterday. These majestic birds are native to the Southern Ocean and spend much of their lives over the open ocean. They have been following our ship for the past couple days.|
I was hoping to the Aurora Australis (aka the southern lights) tonight but the skies are too cloudy. A few people got a peak of it last night, but I was in deep slumber at the time. Fortunately, I am on the night shift, so I will have many chances to witness the amazing spectacle myself. That alone would make-up for the roll-coasters nights I had to suffer through.
That is it for now. I am itching to finish the rest of my book - it’s so good. Hopefully, I will have some great photos of icebergs in my next post!
Catch you later,
*I later realized it was actually 2 am because we entered into a new time zone a few hours earlier.