Dispatch: May 13, 2006

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Dinner menu: Baked Chicken, Veg Lasagna, corn, peas, rice, salad

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As things get closer to getting down to the science, we've been able to work in some non-work time. The city of Punta Arenas is very different from any cities at home. Quite hilly, and the sidewalks are wide and paved with tile. The architecture of the older buildings is lovely, obviously Spanish-influenced, ornate but pleasing. From the higher points, you can look down to the docks and see the Raytheon ships in their distinct orange and yellow configuration We were privileged to take a tour of the R/V Nathaniel Palmer, our ship's 'big sister'. What a difference several hundred square feet make on a ship's interior! Larger science groups, or multiple projects would be likely to use that ship. It is impressive.

The Laurence M. Gould and Nathaniel B. Palmer in Punta Arenas. (Photo by Susie Balser)

Last night the entire science crew had dinner out at one place, to pull everyone together as they make ready for departure, and to give the co-PI's (Principal Investigators, Halanych and Scheltema) the opportunity to set the tone of camaraderie and purpose for this cruise. It was a success. There is a tradition in Punta Arenas to rub the toe of a figure on the monument to Ferdinand Magellan, in the center of the city. One of our guests, Dr. Chris Mah of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, made history himself by fulfilling the tradition. This ceremonial rub is supposed to bring luck to the person who performs it - that he/she will return to Punta Arenas, and we especially like that to happen to all who leave on round trip ships!! Notice how polished that toe is! Yes, I did it, too.

Dr. Chris Mah of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

We've had our first night aboard the ship, and I found it quite comfortable! It's making the bunk that is the test! There is always a steady low hum of the ship's generators emanating through the ship's walls, even at the dock. Tonight will be the proof, with the engine actually running and the ship moving. A special ship's pilot came to the ship at the dock, and he holds the helm through 8 hours in the Straits of Magellan, as we make our way to Argentine waters. At that point, a small pilot boat will come to us, and take that man off. During this entire time the pilot's on board, we are not allowed in the Bridge, only the Captain - it's quite formal.

Ellen Bailey tries out the Lifeboat.
Today's activities have been all about safety and procedures aboard the ship. We got to know the people in charge through these meetings, as well as parts of the ship we will be seeing a lot of over the next few weeks. We tried on the 'Gumby Suits' - the submersible rubber suits that we'd wear in the event of an 'Abandon Ship' situation. We were also given a tour of the Life Boat, and were shown where the general deck operations clothing and equipment are kept.

The Schedule is up, and we begin tows, both benthic and plankton, tomorrow at 0800.



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Last updated May 15, 2006
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