November 30, 2003
Letise Houser, Shipboard Education Coordinator
Today, I awoke to a “rocking and rolling” ship. I expected that it would be different from waking up yesterday morning since we were still in port then, but I thought the seas would be calmer than this. Turns out that we are feeling the effects of a storm in the “Gulfo de Tehuantepec” (Gulf of Tehuantepec). The surge is high, and it has been raining lightly periodically. So far the winds aren’t too strong, and the waters are still manageable, but we have had to slow down our steam pace a bit. Several people have been ill today due to the turbulence, but fortunately I’ve been fine. My main problem has been trying to maintain my balance while moving through the ship. What are some ways that a ship is able to keep its weight balanced at sea? See if you can find out!
Much of the day, everyone has been trying to get ready for tomorrow — the first dive of the expedition! We should arrive “on station” some time between 7a.m. (0700) and 9 a.m. (0900) CST, depending on the weather. If things pick up too much more by the morning, that dive might be cancelled (knock on wood). Regardless, plans have to proceed as if Alvin will go down. Part of that preparation included a meeting with the scientists and Alvin pilots to discuss data collection, dive schedules, equipment use, and other protocol. In addition, the scientists that will be collecting data from tomorrow’s dive had to get the Alvin basket loaded with anything they would need while down on the seafloor. It is important that all items are cleared with the Chief Scientist, Dr. Craig Cary, before adding anything to the basket. The pilots need to know what goes in and how much everything weighs to assure an even distribution.
Prior to the first dive, everyone who might go on a dive has to have a training session regarding Alvin. The sessions started yesterday, but mine was scheduled for this evening. I had a chance to go inside the submersible to get familiar with the environment and procedures during a dive. It’s pretty cramped in there, especially for someone as tall as I am — I’m about 5’10”. Besides being small, everywhere you turn inside the sub, there are instruments, switches, lines, etc., that we need to be careful not to bother. So, it will be hard to stretch out at all during a typical eight-hour dive (two hours down, four hours on the floor, two hours back up). Though the ride may not be comfortable, safety shouldn’t be an issue because the engineers/designers have thought of ways to handle every possible situation that could happen inside or outside the vessel. (Remember to read “Frequently Asked Questions About Alvin” in the resource guide for other interesting details). In any case, I’m really looking forward to my turn to dive, but I’m not sure which day that will be yet. It undoubtedly will be the most exciting thing that I have ever done!
Other than that, I have been going around the ship trying to get pictures of all the Atlantis crew (a total of 22) and Alvin group (a total of 6). I am trying to make a poster with their pictures, names, and positions. This is one way that all the scientists can get to know the many individuals that are in the foreground and the background making this cruise possible. Some of them we don’t get to see much because they may work odd shifts or they may spend much of their time in a particular area of the ship (e.g., the bridge, the engine room). I’ve been fortunate enough to interact a bit with all of them.
Well, that’s it for today. Now that we’re near the research station, the pace around here is sure to change. The scientists will all have their hands full of samples to process from each dive. I will have more to do for the Web site, including starting to take questions from students. I can’t wait to start having a two-way interaction with you all. In addition, there is another educational component that will start tomorrow (Dec. 1) — Vent Poetry (part of the Virtual Science Fair). As a poet myself, I will enjoy reading the poems you send for the contest. Please follow these guidelines:
|Copyright University of Delaware, November 2003|