Cruise diary

Wednesday 30th July 2003

Tina writes...

"Dave will not be writing his diary today due to ESS (excessive sleep syndrome)! After an hour, we noticed it was a little quiet in the main lab..then after two hours we realised he had either jumped ship or gone to bed. In fact Dave slept through half his watch (maybe had too much shepherd’s pie for dinner). When he was woken from his slumber, he said ‘I can’t believe I did that’.

I didn’t sleep at all last night (the ship was fairly active, on a high swell and a Force 8 blowing). Luckily lots of people stayed up too, so we played cards and chatted and had about a hundred cups of tea and coffee. Dave and Rex had more seafood pot noodles (from the fine stash of proper Japanese noodles in the duty mess). We are still swathing (checking out the structure of the ocean floor beneath us) looking for an interesting place to land a dredge.

At 5am I was haunting the aft deck, throwing flying fish back in the sea, when one of the ships technicians, Robin, found some gear had worked loose (the so-called ‘Landers’). If something is loose, it can start rolling around at speed and be quite dangerous even if no-one is around. This is an occupational hazard of sailing rough seas, so he and the crew lashed things down more securely.

Chris Hunter, another technician on board has had a request from his family (his cousin in New Zealand) to have a pic on the webpage. Chris (or Father Christmas as he is affectionately known) has been invaluable as he knows a lot about all the electronic equipment that we use, and is often called from his rest periods to help us out. He is also a mine of information on where exactly things are on the Darwin, having sailed with her and other ships for over thirty-five years.

Above: Chris Hunter & Robin Brown, RSU gurus

By breakfast time, the seas had calmed down, and my day’s sleep was a wonderful 6 hours all in one batch, so I woke up feeling human. Bram and Rex are currently surveying the area around waypoints 18 and 19, conferring on where to stop and dredge. There are several interesting geological features that Bram is excited about. In fact I don’t think Bram wants to go home at all, and may kidnap us all and just keep sailing. He’s also looking more bronzed and spent one sunny afternoon sunbathing on deck (first day he had been outside in two weeks). I am still ghostly pale, given that I work nights and also wear Factor 35 suncream.

Cap’n Bram: dredging in style: note
large wave just landed on deck

The EM12 multibeam has been playing up (this is the kit that does the swathing), and may be finding the conditions too rough to see an accurate echo reading. This means we have to make several passes (some against the wind, some turning into the waves, all of which slow down progress) over a site to see a decent picture of the seafloor.

I felt well enough to face an evening meal (the tasty shepherd’s pie). Then a few of the scientists and technicians watched videos in the Saloon (the place we eat). This was entertaining in the heavy swell. My chair tipped over and I was caught by Jeff (IT and CTD tech) and then Tim’s chair went starboard, and I helped him stabilise. We arrived at the next dredge site in the evening (so everyone off watch has probably slept very well as we are stopped or on a slow heading during the dredge). There were a few big bites (around 7 tonnes) so the 3.25 T weak link may have gone, but we are optimistic the 7T link has held, and that the dredge is coming home safely..."

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