As I write this the second leg has been underway for four
days. It seems like weeks! Doesn’t one get used to new routines quickly. So leg
two; how is it different from leg one? We still get up, bring some cores in, do
whatever pleases us between cores, and then do the splitting and describing in
the morning. And then we hand over, eat, and go to bed. So lots that has stayed
the same! But who looks closer sees a lot of difference anyway.
A typical nighttime view in between cores coming on deck: Riccardo (notice the vanished beard) working and Kasper sleeping in some unlikely place
For the night shift the change is profound; we have a new
shift leader. Which is me! And it would be immodest to herald that as such a
fundamental change, but when I explain that the previous shift leader strongly
believed in micromanagement one might start to appreciate the relevance. I know
we are a well-oiled war machine, and one should not fix what’s not broken. And
instead of Sara, who’d left in Killybegs, we now have Jenny in our team; she
did the first leg in the BGS team, and this leg in the science team; that’s
what you can do if you’re the BGS scientist. She needed a few shifts to catch
up with the war machine, as one would expect, and now she’s fully blended in.
Jenny and one of the Grahams trying not to lose any of the sediment
Changes, or absence thereof, in the geophysics team have
been a bit more improvised; at the start of the cruise the plan was that our
Bangor MSc student would oversee the surveying at night, but during the cruise
the chief scientist thought it would be too much responsibility for a student,
and changed the shifts around so we would get a Sheffield lecturer, who
initially would be in the day shift, instead. But then everything was changed
again; Rich Chiverrell, who was only nominally in the coring team on the first
leg, and spent his time on geophysics and outreach instead, decided to stay on
for the second leg. I assume he used port call to buy some extra toothpaste.
Otherwise I suppose he was all ready! And that was bonus. This man knows this
cruise like few do. So the corers were well-directed!
The rest of the changes in personnel took place in the day
shift; that only differed, for us, in the short periods just before midnight
and noon. If we were up early we could socialise a bit with the day team before
we had to get to work, and they sometimes did the same with us. Which was nice!
And it would be nice to still have Daniel and James around, but now we have
Stephen and Kevin, and that’s nice too. Even though Stephen only increases the
name confusion: pretty much half the people on board are called Graham, John,
Steve or Andy. I think we have three of each!
The geophys screens
We also got a fresh BGS engineers team. The first bunch was
a pleasure to work with, and the second turned out the same way. The crew
pretty much stayed the same. But we have a new function on board: we acquired a
photographer annex film maker. We now do our thing with a big camera pointing
in our face! I think that’s good; it’s sometimes hard to document stuff while
you have work to do. And when you don’t work, you have some sleeping to get
done. But he’s on it!
The technicians preparing the piston core, seen from above
And in between cores I now have switched from my Welsh to
preparing some lectures about shelf seas. I had slightly overdosed on Welsh,
and it’s good to get some teaching prep out of the way!
Anything else? The weather largely stayed lovely. We had
some rainstorms passing, one even with thunder, but generally, these flew over
so fast they came and went between core sites, and often we were busy indoors
then, splitting and describing, that by the time we got out again it was all
Kasper drawing the lines along which the core will be split later
The waves here, on the Atlantic side and often in deeper water, are
higher. Nothing excessive; nobody has turned green, the coring hasn’t been
hampered, but you feel it. It needs concentration to walk to your seat with a
plate of hot food in one hand and a cup of hot tea in the other without making
a complete mess. And I sometimes have to grab a hold of the handlebars of the
treadmill when the ship is trying to play rodeo.
Me with sub-horizontal hair: must be the Atlantic
We also noticed that the supply of fruit is losing some of
its diversity. It is still very good, but we clearly ran out of grapes, peaches
and nectarines. We’ll see if anything else runs out! On the science front it
might; we are now worried about ziplocks, tape of all kinds, and boxes. We’ve
been coring a lot more than was intended. Next year we’ll multiply any estimate
Colm comes up by three. But we’ll manage!
A reassuring sight: Colm, the chief scientist, keeping an eye on things
And one night turned out especially eventful; the only
thunderstorm so far passed overhead, which was spectacular enough as it was,
but it also inspired the crew to try to stop the rain from falling between the
two containers (one for core logging and one for storage) and the wet lab,
where we do our core labelling and describing. And it inspired other crew to
try and fix a drainage problem, which had lead to a drain gargling water into
our lab. They used a phenomenal amount of dye to find out where the problem
was. Their testing lead to all that dye gargling up another drain in the same
lab. So picture rain, thunder, crew members dropping big pieces of wood into
the lab, others perilously balancing on whatever was available, liberally
applying foam to the seams of the lab, while a green fluorescent alien tried to
gargle its way into the lab, with a solid crew member standing on its head but
it managing to stretch its ominously coloured tentacles over the entire lab
anyway, and another crew man swearing and mopping it all up, and all the while
us keeping measuring, photographing, describing and wrapping cores as if none of
that was happening. Work doesn't stop!
The green alien spreading out its tentacles into our lab
And anything else? We’ve been getting wistful emails from
the men who left us in Killybegs. We’re lucky to still be here! We’re still
coring up good stuff (and the occasional dud) and all is well. And it’s strange
to think in just over 2.5 weeks, we’ll be back!