October 20, 2002
Jen Costanza, Shipboard Education Coordinator
Our journey began bright and early yesterday (10.19.02) at 0300 (3 a.m.). We anticipated the exciting part of the expedition to be on the ship; however the two flights we took to get from Baltimore, Maryland, to San Diego, California, were quite eventful! The first flight from Baltimore to Houston, Texas, had a very turbulent descent through some thunderstorms. We had a few bad minutes getting tossed around. As for me (someone who is not a comfortable flyer to be with), the scariest part was when the flight attendant fell down in the aisle next to me. The drama came to a pretty quick end, and we landed safely in Houston but missed our connecting flight. We all agreed that we’d rather be in turbulent seas rather than air. So, Hepsi Zsoldos and I and the rest of the group we were traveling with became well acquainted with the Houston Airport for the next three hours.
Some of us slept, some read, some listened to music on our CD players, and some took advantage of the time to get some work done on our computers. Upon boarding the plane to leave Houston, we were all thrilled to finally be under way once again. As the plane was backing out of the gate, we crashed into something, which we were later informed was one of the luggage loaders that they had failed to move out of the way. For a moment I thought we had hit another plane. The loader was moved and we were on our way.
Certain that the trip could not be filled with any other surprises, we safely landed in San Diego where Peggy O’Day, one of the scientists on the cruise, picked us up. One of the first things she told us was that the A-frame on the ship had broken and the crew was working around the clock to get it fixed, but we would definitely not be able to depart San Diego until at least Monday at 1000. Time is of the essence on research cruises, with nearly every minute scheduled. We hope to be able to leave on Monday morning but even a delay of a couple of more hours will cause us to have to cancel one of the dives. While discouraging, it is not the end of the world. At this point in our careers, we are all well aware of the fact that this is the way science often goes. The unexpected always happens.
So I’m sure you are all wondering what an A-frame is and why it is broken. The A-frame is a giant structure at the stern of the ship that loads and unloads the submersible Alvin. Now, there is also a crane on the deck next to the A-frame. Why do you think we couldn’t just use the crane to deploy and retrieve the submersible? There’s a question for you to ponder, and I’ll give you the answer in tomorrow’s log. Head to the "Neat Stuff" section of "Daily Discoveries" to see the A-frame, Alvin, and the crane.
Once we actually arrived on board Atlantis, we had huge amounts of luggage and equipment to load onto the ship. Most of the scientists had already arrived and were in the main lab sorting through boxes and crates to determine where everything should go. It was complete chaos. Prior to boarding the ship yesterday, I had never been on Atlantis, or any research vessel of this size before. I knew only the people I had traveled out with and did not know where anything was. For a few moments I just stood there watching everyone zip around tending to the equipment and wondering what I should do. Should I unpack my stuff in my bunk? It seemed like a good idea, but I didn’t know where my bunk was and didn’t want to disturb any of these busy people. I spotted another girl across the lab who looked like she didn’t know what to do either so I decided to head over and introduce myself. Her name was Lisa, and she was here from New Zealand. Quickly, a few other first-timers wandered over and joined the conversation. Within a half an hour, I felt like I had met tons of people, but really, almost 24 hours later, I still haven’t met most of the crew.
After some introductions and conversation, Hepsi and I headed down to our cabin, which we are sharing with another scientist from the University of Delaware, Bekki. We have three cramped, but comfortable bunks, a sink, some lockers, a desk, and chair. The bathroom is small and we share it with the adjacent cabin. Check out the "Neat Stuff" section to see pictures of our accommodations.
Copyright University of Delaware, Oct. 2002.