September 5, 2009
At about noon today, we "rafted" with the Louis. Rafting involves having the two ships pull up next to each other, tie together, and then place a gangway (ramp) between the two decks. It was rather strange to walk out on deck or look out a porthole and see another ship almost within arm's reach.
Once the ships were safely secured and various equipment was brought back and forth, we were allowed to tour the Louis. Overall the ships feel very different. The Louis has inside stairs instead of ladders, wooden railings, dropped ceilings, a sauna and dart board in their gym (a potentially dangerous combination I would think), a much smaller bridge, square portholes with windows that open, a wood shop, and even an officers' dining room with table service. The living areas felt much less military, but because of the lower ceilings, they also felt more claustrophobic.
The science labs were smaller and much more compartmentalized. We were able to get a closer look at the seismic gear and the data they have collected, and everyone seemed very impressed with the quality.
After our tours, the two crews came over to the Healy for a celebration "barbecue." The Captains exchanged plaques and made presentations, thanking everyone for their contributions to our joint effort. The impact of what we have done on this expedition was really made apparent. Since we have been together, the Healy and the Louis have successfully mapped more than 2000 miles of the sea floor, significantly increasing the data for the Canadian Basin region of the Arctic Ocean.
The "barbecue" was awesome. This was no typical Labor Day weekend cookout. The Healy crew had been roasting a whole pig on the deck for the day and made South American steak, a variety of salads, and desserts. The Food Service personnel on the Louis prepared several different kinds of salmon, lobster tails, scallops, shrimp, and an amazing cheese table. We ate at tables with tablecloths, and the food, in combination with eating in a helicopter hangar and almost 2 inches of snow outside, made it very different from any Labor Day celebration back home.
After dinner, we didn't have a movie in the hangar, but instead had a Casino Night (for points, not money) and the Arctic Olympics. International competition included such "sports" as air hockey, Wii bowling, foosball, and the culminating event of the evening - a head-to-head Rock Band challenge (Rock Band is a Wii video based game where people play guitars, drum kits, and even sing along with popular songs). The Americans put up a strong showing in this last event, but unfortunately "came up short" in the point total. No worries - a re-match has been scheduled for next year's expedition.