22 November, 1995

November 22, 1995

Location: En route to New Zealand -- heading 245 degrees


It is almost 3900 miles from Bransfield Strait to Lyttelton, New Zealand our final port following a straight line. At the poles, sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line, but a curved line. We are following a great circle route which means we are heading west while trying to maintain a constant south latitude position. The closer you remain to the Antarctic Continent, the shorter the distance traveled. At the poles, the lines of longitude become very close together. By following these smaller circles of longitude at the poles, the distance to New Zealand is shortened considerably..

Our route will take us through more than 120 degrees of longitude and past the international dateline at 180 degrees west longitude. When we pass the dateline we will gain a day. As we move west, periodically we have to add an hour to our local time to keep up with the changing time zones. Our first time zone change is tomorrow on November 23. We will move our clocks back one hour at 2:00 AM.

.The sun is up nearly 24 hours a day at this latitude. We are at 66 50' South Latitude just a little less than one degree above the Antarctic circle. The Antarctic circle is the degree of latitude where the sun does not drop below the horizon on the summer solstice. The Antarctic Circle is at 67 30' south latitude. We should pass the circle sometime in the next few days.

Even though the science in Bransfield Strait is completed, we still have plenty to do. We are still keeping regular eight hour watches through the remainder of the cruise as we do sea floor mapping and collect gravity data along our entire route to New Zealand. This area has had limited research done. Any new information about the topography of the sea floor will be a valuable resource to scientists.

The map that we will produce during our crossing would be over 500 feet long if the scale was one inch per kilometer. We will be collecting a huge amount of data. Most of it will be new and will be a valuable addition to the collection of data about this area of Antarctica.

We averaged 11 knots through our first day of transit, which is about 12 miles per hour. Ice breakers are not designed for speed. It will be a long trip, requiring about 17 days for the crossing. Everyone on board hopes that the seas remain calm. We had six to eight foot rollers for most of the day. The boat rocks back and forth because of the regular motion of the waves. The rollers are like a metronome that sets our internal clocks. Most of us feel very tired. The motion makes us feel just a little uneasy, and just walking down the halls has become a challenge. We know that we would have to be very fortunate to avoid any storms. The motion that we have today pales in comparison to the waves that we would experience in a storm. We could see thirty foot waves or larger. We try not to think of the possibility and are thankful for the smooth sailing that we have.

It has been a transition day on the ship. Many people have been catching up on their sleep. It has been quiet and a little lonely. The labs have been vacated for the time being for bunks until the need for sleep has diminished. Some are feeling a bit out of sort from the motion. We look forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. We will hopefully have good weather, and meal times will be a gathering time for people to get together.

The ice that was our near constant companion has left us. As I sit out on deck, I am overcome by the vastness of the sea around us. In all directions, white caps, rollers, waves, change the surface of the ocean to the horizon. It is a very long way. I am glad that we have our watches. They will help provide some constancy to each day. I look forward to time for conversation. The crush to complete the science has left people very little time to get to know one another. We started this cruise all with our own backgrounds and needs. The science was our cause and our shield. Now, time gives us the opportunity to make connections as people rather than just scientists. I look forward to this new challenge during our crossing.

This has been one of the most difficult updates to write so far on this trip. The motion of the waves makes it very difficult to concentrate. I have not felt sea sick, but I do feel the affects of the motion. It seems like every word that I write is the wrong word. I am not sure if what I am writing is making sense. I feel like I am in a fog trying to get someone's attention, but the flashlight that I have is very dim. I hope this feeling leaves me by tomorrow.

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