Ready for any weather
March 23, 2009
A large storm is building west of the Drake Passage and may soon intercept our course. We are finishing up the last bit of surface mapping on iceberg C-18A tonight and will set out early tomorrow morning for the next iceberg in the center of the Weddell Sea. The storm will travel a similar direction. With seven to eight meter swells predicted, the ship’s crew reminded research groups to tie down loose equipment and secure loose tools, laptops, books, and personal items in cabinets and drawers.
The March 7 “Life on the Ship” post discussed the efforts research groups made to secure equipment from moving in heavy seas; this post describes the features of the ship that allow it to function in rough weather. Railings line every hallway. Computer chairs do not have wheels on the bottom and thus cannot roll, and many desk chairs are secured to tables with bungee cords. In the bedrooms, all cabinets have locks to keep from opening and slamming against the walls. The showers have railings to hold on to, and the shower floors are lined in one-inch-thick plastic mesh, so feet never stand on a slippery floor full of water.
Everything is secured in the galley to account for a rocking ship. Measuring cups and kitchen tools are hung from hooks on the wall rather than set on counters. The stove uses large slabs of heated metal instead of individual burners, so pots do not slide off of the burners when the ship rolls. A metal railing surrounds the stove to prevent pots from sliding and falling to the floor during rough seas.
In the mess hall, metal railings can be raised up along the edges of the dining tables, which act as barriers to sliding dishes. Everyone sets their non-breakable plastic dishes and bowls on a non-skid mat. Condiments are housed in built-in holders on each table to prevent sliding.
If the storm hits, the scientists must be sure their labs are ready. The Palmer itself, however, is ready by design for the rough seas ahead.