Two weeks into Leg 2 of GO-SHIP P18 2016/17, we’re at 47° 30’S, and the weather is … NICE! Sun rises at 6:20, and sets at 9:45.
Not that we haven’t seen some weather. We had a 48 hour blow (25-30 kts) over the 8th and 9th that tested our deploy / recover skills on the forward winch.
We have been occupying stations more or less on schedule, losing time in poor weather, clawing it back in good. In the meantime, ship’s engineers disassembled the aft winch‘s brake mechanism. They discovered a flaw similar to your throwout bearing failing to fully re-engage your clutch. Once re-assembled, the rear winch passed repeated 3000# load tests in and out of the water. Emboldened, we planned a switch to the aft winch the following day.
It was not to be. Later that evening, the wire / termination (fwd winch) started showing signs of trouble, including alarms from the deck unit. While we puzzled over this one, a water supply line ruptured in survey tech Alyssa Pourmonir’s stateroom, flooding her belongings. Next, a fire alarm. Not a drill. The CTD was at 3000 m, with orders to bring it aboard immediately. While we assembled at our muster station, Commando K. McTaggart tripped bottles on the ascent. Nothing else matters.
In the end, the source of the fire alarm was discovered: water tripped the smoke detector in Alyssa’s room. Commando, ahem, Commander McTaggart seized the opportunity: “Jeff (ship electronics tech) is awake now anyway, he may as well stay up and reterminate this thing”. And so it was. Special thanks to Jeff Hill, and to operations officer Brian Elliot, who, on 6 minutes’ sleep, was confronted with lively, if not hysterical, accounts of submerged laptops and personal effects, a real fire alarm, and a surprise request for a midnight winch swap. He handled these with aplomb, and in pajamas, no less.
We have been using the aft winch now for three days. We’ve been advised against throwing a retirement party for the tugger. No need to tempt the winch gods.
Our schedule provides for half-degree spacings to 70°, or maybe even 72°S (depending on topography) with just under four weather days’ cushion. Ice conditions are improving. Our official arrival date in Punta Arenas has now been posted – Afternoon of the 4th of February.
Having verified that somebody actually reads these, we clarify: XCS is shorthand for “eXpendable Chief Scientist”. Although one XCS deployment per cruise would do wonders for morale, and may improve the job market, I wonder if it’s really true that “The chief scientist goes down with the ship”. We learned this at drills today.
For the weekly “We miss Andy, and how” column, a special congratulations and thanks to Paige ‘Float Lady’ Logan. Paige is doing a great job at the very important task of running salts during part of her watch. We promise to come get her next time there’s a fire alarm.
Box score: P18 Leg 2, Week 2
- 26 CTD stations occupied
- 6 Argo/SOCCOM floats deployed
- 4 drifters deployed
- Currently at 47°30’S
- Ice cream still in good supply