Life on board has settled into a bit of a routine, for many a case of ‘hurry up and wait’ for the next thing to do. With 3 hearty meals a day provided it’s important to keep active, and most boats have a small gym to help. Any workout can be a challenge with the boat rocking to and fro: the rowing machine needs a particular timing to avoid working against the pitch, though with some practice it is possible to balance just fine! However, stabilising yourself while standing is also a good isometric workout – chunky thighs await those sailing these seas for any length of time.
We’re now starting to see some of the science done in transit (after another round of safety talks, of course!). The R/V costs about $30,000 a day to run, so the NSF want to make the most of crossing. Projects include a multi-year survey of seabird population, involving observations from the bridge from sunrise to sunset each day, checking species distribution and abundance. There is an oceanographic transect to see how the sea is mixed by the various circumpolar currents, using vertical images of temperature and salinity to map different masses of seawater. Plankton trawls, using fine mesh nets, are taken during day and night to observe vertical migration patterns (the krill, and fishes like myctophids undertake huge distances relative to their size to avoid predators in the day and feed at night). When all that is done we then head towards Palmer Station, with a detour to do some fishing for us (with bigger nets this time!) so we have some animals to work with when we arrive. More news about that next time!