December 2, 2007
55° 20' S 64° 29' W
Things are beginning to wind down for the science team here on the Palmer. The experience has been wonderful, and the scientists are pleased with the progress we've made, but I think most of us are feeling a bit antsy; ready to get off the ship. We've been on board for 19 days, and the ship is feeling very small. Imagine being stuck in a building (probably about the size of the Heath School) for 3 weeks, except that this is a moving, rolling building. Eventually you crave a change of scenery, a change of setting, anything to make the routine change. And, as I've written before, time moves very slowly on board, especially when the routine hasn't changed much in days.
As for the science, we are almost done with the CTD casts, and as you may have noticed from our location, we're almost back to our most northerly location. We're about 3 days ahead of schedule (thanks to excellent weather we've enjoyed for most of the cruise). But, as it's not easy to schedule a cruise like this, the scientists have decided to use the extra time to do some additional tests. We will doing two additional unplanned CPIES deployments. In addition, we'll be doing another series of CTD's along our most Northerly track in order to increase the resolution of the oceanographic data. During down time, we continue to pack things up, getting ready for our arrival at port. (Sooner or later I will begin to untie all my well-tied knots.)
In the meantime the weather continues to be excellent. Today was so warm that I was able to spend time on deck, quite comfortably without a jacket. This afternoon and evening we were able to make out the edge of land at the southern tip of Terra del Fuego, which makes me realize how close we are to the end of our trip. We had another beautiful sunset (alas, no green flash).
We also had a nice break in the routine. Today was Greg Watson's birthday, and in his honor Lindsey "cruise director" Loughry planned a party at lunch, complete with balloons and invitations. As is customary on people's birthdays, the galley staff made a nice birthday cake for Greg. Lindsey found a stash of liquid nitrogen, so she and I made ice cream. Of course using liquid nitrogen is always a good time; we also enjoyed trying to shatter frozen balloons, etc.
One of the lasting impressions for me is the impressive degree of cooperation that exists on this ship. Everyone on this ship seems to work very well together. Given how much time we've all spent with each other and the number of complex tasks that need to be accomplished, I have observed a remarkable lack of conflict. It's an incredible lesson in cooperation and group problem-solving. Ideas are listened to and challenged constructively. People's voices are heard and respected. And communication is really open and clear.