December 22, 2007
Position 71° 54.875' N 125° 25.971' W
After breakfast today, Debbie, Amanda and I headed into the basement. The decks are numbered by their relation the bridge of the ship. The bridge is designated the 1st deck, I am on the deck 4, the bow section of the basement begins on deck 7. Because it is cost prohibitive to constantly ship equipment and supplies back and forth from the ship, a great deal of stuff in stored in the bowels of the ship in between legs. Since all 10 groups do this, there is a constant rearrangement of boxes as scientists arrive and depart from the ship every 6 weeks. We hauled boxes up from the bottom of the boat (deck 10) to make them more accessible for the rest of the leg. Boxes are then inventoried, stacked, and tied down so that will not tumble over while the ship is motion.
After lunch, we head out on deck to the Hg (mercury) lab. The Hg lab is actually a heated modular lab situated on the port deck towards the stern (rear) of the ship. Normally upon entering the lab, you must put on a full protective suit to avoid contaminating the samples and air inside. Today, we only have to take off our shoes as the lab is not a working space yet. Amanda and I inventoried the chemicals inside as a list must be provided to the bridge in case of fire. About three weeks ago, the power to the Hg lab was accidentally shut off, and the temperature inside quickly plummeted. Pipes froze and burst, and some of the plumbing inside the Millipore units (water filtration and purification) burst as well. Debbie and I spent around two hours taking apart the Millipores and figuring out what parts needed replacing. Since neither UPS nor FedEx will deliver here, the parts have to be ordered quickly in enough time to be received at the University of Manitoba, and put on a plane that will be coming north in three weeks time. In the interim so as not to lose time, we will have to purify our water in another lab and carry it out to the Hg lab. It will be a major inconvenience, but there is no other alternative.
At 3 pm, I was required to take a safety tour of the ship along with the other scientists who had not been on the ship before. We were instructed in the proper response to fires, the procedure for abandoning ship, and the proper use of the lifejackets and survival suits. Now that this has occurred, it is only a matter of time before the ship's alarm bells ring, signaling our first fire drill.
The helicopter returned at about 4 pm with good news. The winds from the east had pushed part of the ice in the Amundsen Gulf towards the west, opening up some water where fresh ice will be forming. This is just the spot that the scientists are looking for so we will break free tomorrow, heading south from Banks Island. So far, being on board is no different than being on land as we are completely stationary. I am wondering what it will feel like to be moving through ice.
Tonight I will begin work on a chemistry presentation that Lucette Barber asked me to help with. In three months time, the Amundsen will be hosting a group of high school students from around Canada and they are in need of an introductory presentation to show how high school chemistry relates to the various experiments conducted by the CFL. I hope I am able to construct what she is looking for.