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> 09-25-05: Casino Night and..., ...back in the Ice & Yermak Plateau
post Sep 27 2005, 09:52 PM
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Casino Night & Back in the ice & Yermak Plateau

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The map colors show ice thickness computed from satellite images, the darker brown the color the thicker the ice. The bluish areas show the current the ice edge.
Familiar vibrations and sounds of breaking ice are back. We are currently near Fram Strait and going west, back into the ice, toward the Yermak Plateau, a shallow shelf extension west of Svalbard. Like you can see on the map the ice conditions in our area are not easy. Temperatures are dropping below -15 C, the refreeze started. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day with crisp frozen air.

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The freeze up has started . Paper thin flexible sheets of ice form around us

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Sunrise accompanied by a beautiful display of sun dogs left and right of the sun

Banks of fog are rolling in occasionally changing the visibility in a matter of minutes to almost zero.

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We have pitch black, dark, cold nights. Healy illuminates the ice with two big search lights that look like Mickey Mouse eyes on ice.

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Occasionally one can see the moon and maybe if the sun cooperates we will see the Northern Lights.

Outside work requires several layers of clothing to avoid frost bites. The decks and ladders are frozen and slippery. Being careful is a real good idea. During the last two days I worked with Dale Hubbard and our MSTís to get the core ready for the last employment. I got a real appreciation for their hard work in freezing conditions.

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To warm up I go to the bridge or to the engineering control center (ECC). Those two places are my favorite ones. People on the bridge usually know the big picture of what is going on and after 8 weeks I can read and interpret most of the computer screens on the bridge. Grabbing a pair of binoculars on the bridge and trying to spot birds, seals, polar bears and ice feature like leads and icebergs is fun. In the ECC one can get a good impression about the different ships systems and the status on them. It is always informative to talk to the coast guard people on duty. As a physics teacher I get a kick out of this big ship and her technical systems! We should teach physics right here!

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The engineering control center provides control, monioring, alarm und reporting functions of the auxiliary and propulsion equipment through the MPCMS ( Machinery Plant Control and Monitoring System)

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Jimmy Jones Olemaun our mammal observer from Barrow looks for polarbears from the bridge

On the social front- Saturday night was Casino night. Everybody got $ 2500, in paper money. Traditional casino games were played like Roulette and Black Check. Fancy drinks Coke, Sprite and Root Beer got served  and we had a lot of fun. At the end attractive prizes like an x-box, jump drives, video games, DVDís could be won. I was told the winners had to have more than $50 000.00- high rollers for sure!

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Casino night and one of the Black Jack Tables

My fun got cut short. I was called to the fantail of the ship to film the rigging of the JPC core meaning changing from my glamorous casino cloths into an orange Mustang suit and enduring a temperature drop of 30 degrees . Thus, the huge blocks of ice broken by HEALY and forced along the ships hulls sparkled like sliver, rumbling through the blackish-blue water. The frozen core barrel added to the beauty somewhat.

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The beauty of a frozen corebarrel!

Best regards,
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