Go Time

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I’ve always loved that moment of disorientation, in the dark of a movie theater, right after the previews have ended. You’ve been barraged by lights and sounds of half a dozen different stories, and in the hollow of light and sound that follows, you try to remember: what movie are we actually here to see?

After a week dawdling in hotel quarantine, taking solo walks up the hill and down the promenade, and debugging code over slices of takeout pizza in my room, I keep forgetting that all of this is just prelude. That soon, hopefully soon, we’re going to get scooped out of this hazy reverie, and dropped on a ship where we’ll be on 12×7, keeping the lights on and computers humming as we shuttle the winterover Palmer Station crew across the Drake and down to their new digs for the next nine months. That I’m about to be exhausted, seasick, maddened and exhilarated, flummoxed, frustrated and awe-struck. That’s all coming.

I’m somehow reminded of those war movies, the ones that end especially badly, where things begin with the bright-eyed young recruits so eager to get to it, already. Adventure awaits, right? So maybe those hotel rooms we’ve been consigned to aren’t so…

…and here we go. COVID tests negative, and they want us all downstairs with our gear by 0900.

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The next time I’ve got a chance to catch my breath, it’s 9:00 p.m. and Adina’s given Hector and me the full firehose introduction to the state of the electronics and IT gear onboard. What’s broken, what’s held together with duck tape, What’s working, but has no documentation, so we’d better write this down. She’s been doing three different people’s jobs onboard for the last month, and because of the rapidly-changing COVID management strategy, she’s had to handle the entire port call turnover singlehanded.

The plan calls for us to weigh anchor tomorrow at 1300, and the amount of critical information she’s been trying to capture and communicate before then is absolutely staggering. Some of it I understand. Some of it I understand well enough to know what questions I need to ask once she slows down a bit. Some things, I know I’ll have to let go of, like burning scrolls in Alexandrian library of her mind. Unnervingly, “So I just wired it directly into the void, and now it works,” is one of the sentences that I do understand.

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But it is good to be aboard, good to have something crucial to do. To have many things to do. I’ve cobbled together a TODO list that’s two pages long, and is sure to grow far beyond that long before I have the chance to start chipping away at even the first thing. On top of the normal breathless, chaotic sprint is the fact that not only are all the systems on this ship different than they are on the NBP, the Gould itself is an alien maze of chutes and ladders and corridors that seem to lead to other parts of the ship that are simply impossible to reconcile with Euclidean geometry. I mean, the first time I sailed the NBP, I couldn’t understand how that stairwell forward of the MPC office let you off at the door to the helo deck. But after half a dozen plus cruises, I’m comfortable with it. The Gould? I’m as yet unconvinced that topologically you could reduce the whole structure to a sea-going, steel and diesel implementation of a Klein bottle.

But where was I? (No, really – where was I?) Right. Getting ready to sail, getting ready to earn my keep. Next few days may be quiet on the blog. For one, there’s an incredible amount of stuff I’ve got to come up to speed on. For another, about 12 hours after we weigh anchor, we’ll be popping out from behind the shelter of the Wollastons and into the teeth of everyone’s favorite nausea-inducing ocean passage. Drake weather isn’t looking as bad as it could be, but there is an ugly patch of weather moving our way. And y’all already know that I’m a puker. 

See you on the other side?

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6 responses to “Go Time

  1. Nope, did not know that you are a puker but glad you got to git to gittin’ anyway. Hope the nasty patch in the Drake doesn’t adversely impact your ship.
    You say the science station folk will be gone for 9 months at the end of which, what do you get? A projectile pooping penguin? Will you be shepherding said ss folk through on the help desk for that period of time?


  2. Have a great cruise! I hope the seas are mild and you’re able stand up like a normal person while putting your pants on in the morning.
    I was the MET on the LMG in 1999/2000 and I remember a few days when the rolling was so violent that I had to lay on the floor bracing against the furniture to put my pants on. :-)
    I found out that I can get seasick too.


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