14 February, 2004

We celebrated Valentines Day with a surprise Wedding Shower/Party for Jennifer Nice at midnight. Jennifer will be getting married on March 6th, just a couple of weeks after she gets home. Everyone got up early or stayed up late so that we would all be in the galley at mid rats (midnight meal). She was a little upset when all of the people that worked on watch with her left her alone to go and eat. Christina Millan, came back to the dry lab a little while later to relieve Jennifer for dinner. When she walked in she was shocked to find the room full of people, cake and presents on the table, and "White Wedding" playing on a boom box in the back of the room.

Planned events like this shower, and singing happy birthday with a cake at meals are ways that the ship community comes together to celebrate and have a little fun. Free time is mostly sleep time. The science group moves onto other work after their shifts. The Raytheon support and crew are working twelve hours a day. What little time that we have for recreation is spent reading, watching movies in the lounge, checking email, taking or cataloging pictures, talking and sometimes playing cards. Some have other hobbies, work out in the exercise room, or play music.

The ship is a very busy place that never seems to slow down. The scientists have been waiting for more than two years to do this research on the Palmer and every minute of ship time is precious. Everyone contributes to the success of the science. The scientist, crew and support staffs work well together to make things work smoothly. The ice conditions that we have encountered have meant that some of the decisions to do seismic or multibeam have been made at the spur of the moment. Everyone has accepted the challenge and the scientists have been able to make good use of the time aboard the Palmer.

It was an unusually beautiful day today. Most of the day we spent near the bergs and Beaufort Island. It was a prime opportunity for picture taking and reflecting on how beautiful this place is. Terry Wilson from Ohio State has a new digital SLR that the geology department has available for scientists in the field to use when they are out doing research to document their work. She has been generous to allow everyone on board to use the camera whenever it is available. At the end of the day the pictures are downloaded to a place on the computers can claim their pictures. We took almost two hundred pictures over the course of the afternoon.

One of the fascinating things about working in the ice is that it gives you an appreciation of how quickly the environment changes. The conditions can change rapidly, just days before, the area near Beaufort Island was congested with ice and bergs. The skies were gray and overcast, and there seemed to be little hope that we would be able to survey this area. 48 hours later and we are giddy tourists chatting on the bridge, gawking the bergs.

We were within hundreds of meters of the bergs. The ones we were working near were babies compared to B15A, but they were kilometers in length. The top of the mast on the ship is over 100 feet above the water, and the top of the bergs was well above that. The total thickness of these "small" bergs was over 100 meters; just thin enough to float past any of the high spots on the seafloor.

It was a nice day to connect and talk. We did multibeam until 9:42 PM then we started doing seismic again. From the party to the sunshine, it was a day that everyone needed. Our spirits were lifted.

Wearing a stylish veil Jennifer opens presents at the party.

Stuart and Jo take photos along the rail of the bridge of Beaufort Island.

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