The snow’s gone by morning, or at least what the clock claims is morning. Sean and I meet for breakfast, peering out to sea, pick up the NBP coming in slowly, probably under the guidance of a harbor pilot. Once they bring her alongside the pier and finish laying down lines, there’ll be customs and inspections for them to go through before we’re let on board, so there’s time before there’s any point in going down the pier to greet her.
It’s shaping up to be a nice day – the eastern sky is getting pretty light, and once the sun comes up (some time after 8:00), it looks like there may even be some scattered blue mixed in with the flat gray overhead.
We make the one-block walk along the sea wall out to the warehouse at the base of the pier, where I get introductions to Octavio, Gonzalo, Paul and the others who keep the local USAP office running. Paul kits me out with a bag of ECW – sorry, Extreme Cold Weather Gear; not quite as voluminous as the stuff they give you for the South Pole, but impressive nonetheless: big rubber storm slickers, steel toed boots and their own lightweight version of Big Red. Sean and I wander the warehouse in search of a crate of stuff that came off the LM Gould – the other USAP ship – and eventually it’s time to wander down the pier and meet the big orange girl in person.
She’s, umm, big. I’ll write more about the ship itself when we’re better acquainted – at this point I only know the corridors well enough to get down to the IT Lab, forward to the galley, and aft to the head (that’s nautical-speak for toilets, matey).
But I meet the outgoing team of Bryan and Kathleen, both comfortable, easygoing veterans of the ship. There’s a quick round of introductions: that’s Mikey (“Hi!”) and Mark, you won’t need to remember them, but they’re good folk; and Al and Julie and Hannah and Ben and did he say his name was OJ? Too many faces and names to keep straight, and most of them are busy buttoning down their projects and hauling their stuff off so they can get out of our way and go home.
Regardless, it’s time to get to work; the hard part is finding work I can do without requiring more of Sean’s direction than it would take for him to do himself. I end up pulling a stack of old servers out of their rack and help rerouting cables. Then there’s lunch (more about Mike from Louisiana, our fabled ship’s cook some other time), then more cable pulling. The afternoon’s a blur, and by the time we give up on debugging some secondary monitors in the Dry Lab, it’s close to 9:00 p.m. and I’m bushed.
We’re in port three more days, I think, sailing on Sunday. Plenty of time to come up to speed. Plenty. Right?