Thursday, April 28, 2011

At last I go home

We finally arrived in Punta Arenas at 18:00 hours on April 23rd, two days ahead of schedule. Land was a wonderful sight to behold. The transit across the Drake’s passage was a bit rough but the ship rode well. We were also able to conduct the crossing ceremony. This was the first time I ever helped to plan it. Under the circumstances I think it turned out well. I think the most exciting part of our transit to Punta Arenas, at least for me was when I got to drive the ship! It is not as easy as it sounds. You really need a feel for it when adjusting the rudders. I tended to over compensate for the heading. But it was A LOT of fun and I learned some new things.

For a while now I have been debating on whether I would participate in a long cruise such as this ever again. During the cruise I could only think 'Heck no!' but now I am not so sure. I did have a good time, met great people and hopefully collected a nice set of samples. It was good experience and also a great challenge. Depending on the circumstances I would probably do it again. The crew, the mates, the Raytheon folks, everyone was fantastic. We had great support. If there was any ship on which I would participate in a 70 day cruise, the Palmer is the best.

I head to the airport in about an hour. I have about 24 hours of traveling ahead of me. I always get really anxious before I travel, particularly in unfamiliar territory. I am ready to be home. Yay! I hope everyone enjoyed the blog as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ice Party '11

I told you I would publish pictures of the ice party, and I live up to my
word. Honestly there isn't a whole lot to say about it. It was nice to
get out onto 'solid ground' even if it was only for a couple of hours. It
was a bit cold too! I was disappointed, however, because no penguins
showed up! What is up with that? The last 3 ice parties I have attended,
penguins have made their presence known. Ah well. Some people played
soccer, Frisbee and football. Others just spent time tackling each other
in the snow. It was good exercise for all! I hope you enjoy the pictures.

On a side note, after a nail biting final round, I am officially the winner
of the CLIVAR Cribbage Tournament. Pretty good for a novice, I think. It
was a nice morale booster, indeed!

More to come in the next blog!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ice, seals and more seals

We spent a couple of days transiting south to the ice shelf in order to
reach the beginning of a sampling line called P18S, which is an arbitrary
name for one of the CLIVAR program's sampling lines (Pacific 18 South).
We had to travel through ice to get there, some of which was pretty thick
with snow. The fun aspect of traveling through the ice is the chance to
see macrofauna, as I am sure I have mentioned before. I didn't get to
see any penguins up close except for a couple of emperors swimming. We
did, however see lots and lots of seals. I believe they are Weddell seals.
Of course, the process of cutting through ice is also an experience.
Unfortunately we didn't get very far. The ice/snow was just too thick
for this vessel. Also, a larger amount of fuel is consumed during this
process. We must, of course, conserve enough to get to Punta Arenas. The
ship's crew and captain are very diligent about budgeting fuel, so this
is not a true concern.

Right now we are headed back to the 67º South like and continue east
towards our final destination of Punta Arenas (only 2 weeks away!). We
will also be holding a crossing ceremony at the end of the line. The
crossing ceremony is a way of 'celebrating' when fresh meat, I mean,
people have crossed one of the circles, i.e., the Arctic, Equator or
Antarctic, for the first time. I have already crossed the Antarctic Circle
so I will be part of the act. It should be a lot of fun. I will fill you
in later about that. Oh, and we also had a little ice floe party while we
were in the ice. It was nice to get out onto 'solid' ground and have a
little fun. I will share those pictures in a later blog.