10 July, 2003
Work on the R/V Palmer happens around the clock. All the officers, engineers, technicians, and crew have been divided into various shifts that guarantee the smooth operation of everything on the ship. Food is even served twenty-four hours a day, although I'm not sure that's a good thing when I consider my weight.
The science group has been divided into 2 twelve-hour shifts as well. So far, the midnight to noon crew has had all the fun; that is, they have done all the work since the ship has arrived at all of the stations (i.e. locations where we take measurements) during their watch. But early this afternoon, my team- the noon to midnight shift- performed several casts.
A cast involves lowering the rosette water sampler into the sea at various depths that range from the surface to near the bottom. From the officers on the bridge that are responsible for keeping the ship on location and in the correct orientation against the wind and currents, to the winch operator and technicians that guide the rosette out the bay door of a rocking ship, this complex process involving nearly a ton of scientific equipment is made to look easy by the ship's highly trained crew. And all of this is coordinated with the scientists that determine the timing and depths that the rosette must sample and measure from. This sophisticated choreography of players and technology is truly a marvel to observe and I don't think I'll ever cease to be amazed by it. If only I could run my classroom the same way.
By the time my watch is over, our teams have completed 12 stations (i.e. twelve casts) out of a planned 262 total stations for the entire cruise. After station 14, the Palmer will head northeast for a day to a location just east of Barrow, Alaska where we should find the ice pack that will test the ship's icebreaking capabilities.
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