Cruise diary

Thursday 24th July 2003

Dave writes...

"Morning all. We have been dredging all through the night shift. We will not however know the result until 9:15. We are not even entirely sure that we scraped the sea floor because the tension reading didn’t exceed ~5.2 tonnes of stress.

I was a bit late for duty today as I slept through my alarm. I had to be woken by Tina. Even then it was a struggle getting out of bed.

Updating the ship's log

The morning's dredge was the most productive we've retrieved. There was a lot of basalt, including a large pillow with flow banding and lots of volcanic glass. I’ve just started the afternoon shift, we are just sending down the dredge so it may be up by the end of the shift.

Recently I have been at a bit of a loose end most of the time while on watch. I wanted to be more involved with what was going without being too much of a nuisance. Bram and Andy have caught on to this and have started giving me a bit more to do, which is good because it's a lot more interesting when you are involved and are making a contribution.

Tina writes...

"Another day, another dredge (as Rex puts it). Or almost not a day, for Dave. I had to call him to get him to wake up, poor thing. It’s never a popular job waking someone up at 4:20am. We spent the entire morning shift (the ‘dog watch’, haven’t seen the dog yet) on the dredge. This morning’s efforts were very successful (this provides a big boost to morale), with an enormous piece of pillow lava rock, and about five other types of basalt. Dredging is very patient work, looking for snags on the cable that might indicate where the dredge is picking up pieces from the ocean floor.

I’m feeling a little under the weather today - all the disrupted sleep is taking a toll. Luckily everyone’s in the same boat (literally) and they are all very supportive when anyone feels tired or ill. Many of the team have done previous cruises so they know the best way to get through the work each day. I have found the best thing is to do as I’m told and then sleep when I’m done! All the emails from people at home (special hellos to Frederique & Nicola) help make things easier. I think you do spend time planning what you’ll do when you get home, and appreciating all the ordinary stuff like being able to go to see a friend, or take a walk, or cook a meal in your own kitchen. The hardest part of the day (for me) is getting up at 3am and making my way down the bunk bed steps without knocking my head on the bathroom cabinet opposite. The best part of the day is after the 4-8pm shift, when I can have a little social time with the rest of the team, watch a film or just chat about the day.

At the moment we are on the second watch of the day (after the chef made us scones with jam and cream, bless him), and we are travelling to the target point for the dredge. We reel out about 3000m of cable, then gradually (using the ping echo sounder strapped 150m above the dredge itself) edge our way to the site we want to sample. This requires a patient man, and Rex (even though he was almost flipped out of his bunk last night and went into freefall as the ship rolled back and forth) is a perfectionist.

Phil: the winch man, studying the cable tension.

The two Captains, Rex and Bram.

We also got to haul the dredge in this time (a large bin-full of wonderful rocks). There were waves breaking over the stern of the ship, with the dark Indian Ocean just visible in the lights of the upper gantry of the A-frame. The dredge came down smoothly on the winch from the frame, and we took a large black bin to empty out the rocks. The 3T weak-link had broken on the chain (the weak link is there to prevent the ship from being dragged back by the dredge if it gets caught to something on the sea floor). There was a variety of fresh basalt, glass and some altered, older rock with a little sedimentation.

Sophie washing and sorting the haul: rocks are loosely classified
and cleaned, then tagged and bagged.

A large lump of pillow lava from the depths of the ocean.

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