Cruise diary

Friday 25th July 2003

Dave writes...

"At the end of my shift I was feeling OK but then I went to breakfast to have some shreddies which went down well. Then I got up to leave and was on my way to bed. I started cleaning my teeth when out of nowhere I vommed in my sink. My shreddies did not stay "locked up ‘till lunch".

Today there has been a lot of excitement. Mainly due to the contents of the dredge which contained sulphide mineralisation and apparently smelt like drains, some of the rocks had also been severely hydrothermaly altered (as though boiled in really hot acidic water) and had become very pale grey coloured and friable (easily broken). This evidence led Bram to get very excited about the possibility of yet another hydrothermal plume related to this activity. We were about to conduct a CTD when the idea was KO’d because the weather was blowing about gale force 8 on the Beaufort scale. After talking to Keith, the Captain, I have discovered that we are heading into worse conditions with the wind blowing up to 40 knots (upper end of gale force 8). So I’m off to take copious amounts of stugeron. In those conditions it may be impossible to do any dredging, so will make for boring sailing.

Tomorrow if there is no dredging I will regale you with the story of how the Himalayan orogen (mountain building) caused and intensified the Monsoonal conditions. It’s quite interesting, if you like that sort of thing..."

Above: Bob, Phil and Dave waiting for the next dredge

Tina writes...

"Please Dave, NO! Actually we just had a lab discussion about greek letters, this is the dull part of steaming to the next way point. The morning dredge was exciting, with waves washing over us (we all got wet again) but it went smoothly. Our winch man Phil is a star, and makes sure we get the dredge over the railings without loss of control (or samples). Bob takes charge on deck, and makes sure everything is lashed safely so that the dredge and bucket come down steady and vertical without swinging. Bob runs on tea, and has admitted to at least 10 cups a day.

After we got the dredge in (it was full of good samples again, and the 3T weak link had sprung) we sorted out the haul into basalt, glassy and other and tagged and bagged them. Then I went for breakfast (mainly bacon) and a sleep. People like it when we dredge at night because it means the ship hoves to and stays nice and steady for their sleep! I wasn’t sleeping too well today because we are in choppier seas. I went for a walk on deck and watched the seaspray...several people had the same idea and got soaked and had to change their clothes. When the wave breaks, the spray makes a fan-like rainbow that hangs in the air for a few moments.

Stuart, Sophie & Robin (right) attaching the net

Me - 6am sunrise!

The afternoon shift had brought up another dredge (at the next waypoint) with an interesting selection of rocks. Bram was excited about a possible hydrothermal chimney, and evidence that some of the rocks had been leached at high temperatures, causing a green chlorite colouration. There was a beautiful piece of glassy flow rock, with what looked like drips (of lava) underneath. Last night there were rocks with smooth shapes, and holes formed by the molten lava bubbling as it flowed. There was also some evidence for sulphurous conditions (possible hydrothermal activity) but it was too rough at sea to do a CTD, so Carla has to wait until things get calmer. I did notice the funny smell in the lab but I thought it was Dave.

Dredging is an addictive activity, it’s a big adrenalin rush, and after I’ve been on the stern dredging, I can never sleep, and have to go and talk to someone about the rocks and the sea conditions! I worry I’ll get bored on terra firma, in a house without an A-frame, and people who can’t help with dredging, and a bed that stays in the same place all the time. And how am I ever going to do my own cooking and shopping?

I haven’t been very hungry and everyone keeps trying to feed me…we don’t really get a lot of physical activity and now that I seem to have become nocturnal, I snack on bits and pieces that the galley leaves out for me. The chef is going to leave me out some chocolate sponge for my supper tonight. However, I can report that Rex had a good day’s sleep and feels better…but people are generally looking a little concerned about the rough weather for tonight. Sadly Andy’s chocolate sponge pudding didn’t stay put for long.

We are tracking the ridge now (we lost it for a bit) and steaming towards the next waypoint. I went up to watch Phil (on the bridge) and Rex discuss the course, over the gravity and sea charts. Up on the bridge, you can be a lookout over the bow and watch as the ship rolls through the waves like a rollercoaster. Every twenty or so waves, there is a bigger one that breaks over the deck and sprays the windows of the bridge. We are heading into the weather now, and the ship is rolling around, so we’re slowed a little to about 7 knots on the way to waypoint 10..."

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