4 March, 2000
Tour of Gould; Leave Punta Arenas!
Question 14: What does the R.V. that comes before the Laurence M. Gould's name stand for?
The deck level has all the lab spaces--for us this is just our ride to Antarctica, but for many other scientists this is the destination, and they do their work on board. The computer lab is on this level with common-use computers that can access our ship email. Internet is not available and email operates in an unusual way. All mail sent from individual accounts on board the ship is held by the ship computers until the computer techs send it out in a batch to a central computer in Denver, Colorado, twice a day. From there, it goes to its addressed destination. There are many places for the system to break down, and it is not as reliable as sending a normal email message. Email coming to our ship accounts goes to the Denver computer where it is collected until the computer techs on the ship download it, again, twice a day.
The laundry is on the deck level, as is the galley (cafeteria). All the washers and dryers are bolted down and we have been asked not to wash clothes when the seas are bad. It confuses the machines' fill-level sensors and they leak soapy water everywhere. The galley is similarly outfitted. There are fixed tables (with lips) and chairs, rubber mats to keep plates and glasses from sliding, and high bins for condiments. Food is served cafeteria-style and is very good. Since we are coming from Chile there are lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and salads. Breakfast is served 07:30-08:30, lunch 11:30-12:30, and dinner 17:30-18:30. We are on a 24-hour clock. This level has the main deck of the Gould. While in transit there is just storage on the deck. Once we reach Palmer the deck will be reconfigured to serve as a platform for the 10-day scientific cruise that will follow. Below the deck level is the hold, the first level with no outside access. There are two berthing vans attached here as well as lots of other stored items. I will be looking at the crew areas on the way back from Palmer Station.
Most interior hatches (doors) have heavy-duty springs and close automatically. There are a few that it is structurally important to close off if there is a leak, and these seal with wheels and bars. Outside hatches have high sills; some are up to my knee. While we are underway they must be dogged down. This means that in addition to the regular door latch, the manual latches (dogs) at top and bottom of the door have to be turned to seal the door. They are not locks, they just make sure that they doors stay shut no matter how extreme the ship's movement. Doors also have hold-fasts that they hook into if they need to be open. While underway, very few doors are left open.
We spent most of the night puttering around by Punta Arenas, and by noon the problem was solved. We left port after 3pm with the technician on board. He will stay with us to the end of the strait as will the local pilot who takes the ship out of the inshore area. The same boat will take both of them back to P.A. There are young Giant Petrels flying around the ship, groups of Magellanic Penguins swimming and diving and lots of Southern Terns feeding at the surface of the water. Some dolphins were spotted bow surfing. There are also man-made objects in evidence. Further north in the strait there was a whole forest of oil platforms. The flames burning off natural gas just kept appearing over the horizon until there were about 15 of the rigs visible. The sea in the protected area of the strait is very calm, and it is possible to go to sleep without even noticing that we are no longer anchored (other than the engine hum.)
Answer 13: The Southern Ocean. It became the official name very recently. The other popularly used name was the Antarctic Ocean.
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