Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rolling around

We’re currently in the middle of a 48-hour transit to what will likely be our final measurement site, which means we’re cruising along at close to 10 knots rather than the 3 or 4 knots we go when we’re towing SWIMS behind us. One of the consequences of this is that the ship is rolling a lot more than it does when we’re going slowly. This makes a number of ordinary tasks quite challenging: drinking coffee, walking across the room, sleeping. Using the treadmill is as much of an arm workout as it is a leg workout if you want to make sure you don’t pitch off the edge. The extra (and often unexpected) rolling also means that it is even more important to make sure all the valuables are strapped down tightly. Our computers and electronic equipment are more or less bolted in place, using a combination of non-slip mats, bungee cords, hooks, and screws. The other day we rolled to a 25-degree angle, which quite effectively woke up anyone who was sleeping and had everyone else grabbing for the nearest handle as their chairs slid across the room. The Sikuliaq tends to roll more than many of the other research vessels because the bottom is rounded to allow it to work effectively in the icy conditions of the Arctic.

If you’re curious what this is like and wish to experience it vicariously, you have several options. Watching the opening scenes to Mary Poppins where the ladies of the house are holding onto furniture and china is a remarkably accurate representation of what it’s like in the lab when we hit a particularly big roll. The dancing scene at the end of Grease, where Sandy and Danny are walking around on the teeter-totter-esque platform is also pretty good (except that scene should really last 48 hours to do justice the ship’s motion). However, if neither of these quite do it for you, you can always abruptly lift a table at one end and see what falls off.

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