29 August, 1997

Today was not a good day for my equipment. Not all of our supplies made it to the boat yesterday, in fact it took the whole day just to ferry the science personal and their personal equipment. The plan for today was to have a barge bring the remaining scientific equipment from the polar camp, however, the seas didn't cooperate. Our team had seven crates that we had loaded onto pallets. Most of them contained video and acoustical equipment that we need for our beluga whale studies. One of the cases had my 8 mm video camera, a Zip drive with diskettes, and batteries for my digital camera, equipment I needed for my educational responsibilities during the cruise. When our containers arrived on the ship, one of them was covered with ice and especially heavy. When I opened it, it was obvious where the extra weight had come from. The box had gone overboard in the high swells and was filled with seawater. My first reaction was *&*#!%!!

Disaster is often a good teacher and I learned some important lessons from this experience. The most useful came from our engineer Nick and the other electronic wizards aboard. They immediately began prying the covers off the electronic equipment and washing the circuits with fresh water. Imagine watching someone hold your new $1000 camera under a stream of water! The outcome was that after washing with distilled water, rinsing with alcohol, and then drying, most of the electronics came back to life. Because salt water is such a good electrical conductor, anything with a battery, like my camera, was fried beyond repair.

The moral is: don't panic; wash your circuits before plugging them in; and always travel with your batteries in a plastic bag!

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