August 15, 2009
Yesterday and today have been tough in the sleep department. On Fridays, in addition to the daily test of the emergency systems, the crew engages in practice drills. So, I went to sleep at about 9 am, woke up for the noon PA announcement and alarm, and then woke back up at 1 pm for an emergency simulation. We had to muster (meet) in the science lab to make sure we were present. In the meantime, they were making announcements over the PA about the Louis ramming into the stern, flooding in various compartments, electrical problems, and evacuation procedures - none of this real, of course. Although I did not see the crew in action, I know that they were moving to various locations in the ship and performing their duties. With all the noise and commotion, I was awake for the day.
Today (Saturday) was not much better. After watch, I went to sleep about 8:30 am again, but was woken up by vacuuming outside my door. Saturdays are inspection days, so one group was in charge of cleaning the common areas between 8 and 10 am. Once they finished, I fell back asleep until the noon alarm, and tried to go back to sleep again, but we were moving through some heavy ice, so the ship was rocking, and there was lots of loud scraping. At 11:30 am I was awake for the day. Less than 7 hours of sleep in 2 days is not quite what I'm used to, but I didn't want to go back to sleep because there are "fun" things to do on the weekend.
For the crew and science party, Saturdays are a time for some relaxation. Although people still have their watch assignments, extra duties and meetings are generally cancelled. Movies are shown through the on-board TV network during the day. The kitchen staff is given the night "off," and some other group does the cooking. Today it was anyone who is an E-6 (Enlisted member, Grade 6). Hamburgers, onion rings, corn, and salads were on the menu. For some of the crew, the kitchen staff made special "surprise" topping combinations - the Coastie in front of me had fried egg, bacon, barbecue sauce, and pineapple on his burger.
After dinner, it's Bingo time. Now before people start picturing grey-haired old ladies playing for hours at a time, on the Healy, Bingo is serious business. And, they play for good prizes. Crew and science party members filled one half of the mess hall, and won t-shirts, iPod players, and even a small, flat-screen TV.
After Bingo, it's movie night in the helicopter hangar. Tonight's film was the new Star Trek, and once again science party and crew members came together for some fun. Before the movie, several people played an impromptu game of "Horse" basketball - and made some amazing shots. Then, the folding chairs were brought out, popcorn, pop, candy, and drinks were served, and everyone settled down for a good time. For those people who've seen the movie, the scene where they find Spock on the ice-covered planet looked very familiar to those of us here...