We had a 19-hour transit to our first study site, and were escorted for a while by pods of playful dolphins who seemed to enjoy riding the ship’s bow wave.
Although not taking samples at this point, the crew and scientists were far from idle during the transit. We took advantage of the transit time to conduct drills.
FIRE DRILL. On a ship, there’s much more to this process than calling the fire department and leaving the building. When you’re at sea, you ARE the fire department. Crewmembers donned their firefighting gear and rushed to the scene of the “fire”, which occurred in one of the science labs. There, they practiced techniques such as how to open the hatch (nautical term for a door) to the burning space without getting hurt, and using a fire hose correctly.
ABANDON SHIP DRILL. The purpose of this drill is to make sure everyone knows where their lifeboat is and what survival gear they need to bring. One of the most interesting parts of this drill is the donning of the survival suit. It can be a little difficult the first time, and there’s something about wearing it that makes you feel kind of silly. Nevertheless, it is a vital piece of survival gear that, when worn properly, can make the difference between life and death. Even during the summer in the Gulf of Mexico, when water temperatures can exceed 80 degrees, you can become hypothermic because water drains the body of heat many times faster than air of the same temperature.
Later on, we’ll let you know how everything went at the first sample station