August 9, 2007
Location: Mouth of the Great Whale River, Kujuarapiq
I spent the day out in the barge with several of my science "team" and two crewmembers, Darek and Joselin, the First Officer. Greg, Claus, Andrea, and I collected water samples and information from some optical sensors and CTD's. Sam and ZouZou collected sediment samples with a miniature version of a box core sampler.
I was lucky to be out there! The chance to go out in the barge is coveted, and at this point on the voyage most folks on board would trade their right arm (or at least their mother) to spend a day out, away from the ship. Fortunately for me, Greg frequently needs samples which can only be obtained from the Zodiac or the barge (or occasionally the most exotic mode of transport on board, the helicopter). And more fortunately, he is aware of how much I'd love to experience a trip away from the ship and kind enough to include me!
We loaded the barge with all the equipment while it was still up above the 4th deck, and we all climbed on to be lowered down to the water. We had to grab hold of several thick ropes as the barge was lowered, it was a funny sensation. The day started out lovely, with sun and a bit of wind. It felt so wonderful to be cruising along in the barge, looking back as the Amundsen got smaller and smaller.
At our first stop, I helped Andrea with the CTD and coiled up the rope for her as she brought it aboard. Unfortunately, I looked down as I worked and the waves seemed to get a bit bigger. Soon I had a headache, and within a few minutes was feeling overheated and as though I might faint. Seasick!! Ugh. Sam told me to look at the horizon which I did from a seat on the bottom of the barge. I had to unzip and take my mustang suit halfway off to get cool and even that didn't help much.
Once everyone's work was done we drove on to the next stop and both Andrea and Greg came to sit by me and talk. Greg suggested I eat a few crackers and keep looking out at the horizon. I did not start to feel better until 40 minutes later, after another stop for samples.
By then, we were near the mouth of the Great Whale River and the village of Kujuaripiq. The smell of the air was enough to make me feel better, it smelled of a mixture of pine, earth, and tundra. I was well enough to stand up and walk around a bit, but only for 10 or 15 minutes. After another spell of sitting down and eating crackers I felt like I once again belonged to the human race and was even able to help with collecting samples.
We were close enough to the village to see several fish drying racks and a few people out on their four wheelers. A man cruised up on a jet ski and asked us what we were doing so Greg and Klaus explained what samples we were collecting. He seemed okay with that and roared off. We headed back toward the Amundsen and planned to make 2 more stops for samples. The waves were fairly large once we headed away from the Great Whale and Joselin felt it was getting late, so we made one last stop before returning to our floating home.
We arrived back around 8pm and unloaded all the samples and gear before stumbling down to the crew's mess to scrounge some food. Since it was Thursday night, the bar was open and I thought I might socialize for a while but I never made it out of my cabin after showering. My pillow and blankets beckoned and I obeyed.