Stability

April 12, 2009

As we cross through the roughest water yet on the cruise, science groups made sure to prepare equipment and themselves for the stormy Drake Passage. Gear is packed tightly in boxes ready to be shipped or lashed down on countertops. Laptop computers are tied down or packed in latched drawers stuffed with clothes to prevent shifting.

Even though everyone has sea legs by now, some have experienced brief feelings of seasickness when working on computers. People prepared themselves by getting as much work done as possible before the seas got rough. Some people took medication such as Scopalamine patches, Dramamine, or Bonine. Others tried more holistic approaches, such as wearing pressure point bands around their wrists and eating dried ginger.

The ship rides more smoothly than expected in the rough waters. Though pitching and rolling is inevitable in swells as large as we are experiencing, the Palmer’s large size (94 meters long and 18 meters wide) lessens the movement. Ballast tanks filled with water increase stability by causing the ship to ride lower in the water. Two anti-rolling flume tanks also help stabilize the ship’s rolling. The tanks, one forward and one aft, run across the width of the ship. Water sloshes back and forth through the flumes as the ship rocks, but is slowed by baffles along the way. The slowed water adds weight and helps counter against rocking.

Waves rock the ship around as we cross the Drake Passage, but mechanisms such as anti-roll tanks are keeping our transit as smooth as possible. Photo by Kim Reisenbichler.

Waves rock the ship around as we cross the Drake Passage, but mechanisms such as anti-roll tanks are keeping our transit as smooth as possible. Photo by Kim Reisenbichler.

Our transit through the Drake is not smooth by any means, but preparation and the ship’s mechanisms for dealing with rough seas help make the journey as comfortable as possible.

—Amanda Kahn