LIFE ON A FLOATING ROLLER COASTER

by Melanie Duchin

January 31, 2007

Wave breaking over the bow of the EsperanzaThe seas have picked up significantly since yesterday and the ship is rolling about 20 degrees to port and starboard, sometimes more. I’m psyched that I haven’t had to take any seasickness medicine at all, and while I have a constant lowgrade headache and a tinge of nausea, I’m certainly nowhere close to how sick I’ve been on past expeditions on the Arctic Sunrise. This ship is so much more stable than the Arctic Sunrise, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to make it through the entire expedition with my stomach contents intact.

And just as I finished typing that paragraph Captain Frank took the wheel and the ship started rolling more than 30 degrees. My chair slid on the floor all the way to the port side of the ship, but Sara was between me and the wall so the two of us jumbled up in a pile. But just for a moment, because then the ship rolled to port and we slid in a heap into Sakyo at the other end of the office. All the while trying to keep our chairs from flying out from under us, clutching our laptops and trying to prevent notebooks and other office paraphernalia from sliding onto the floor. The office we work in is on the same deck as the bridge, which is about ten meters/33 feet above the water. So when the ship rolls, it’s amplified up here. The best place to be is as close to the water as possible where the movement is least severe.

Word of mouth is that the maximum roll on this ship last year was 40 degrees (compare that to the Arctic Sunrise whose maximum roll was 70 degrees in the Southern Ocean last year), so I figure we’ve already experienced ¾ of it. It’s a bit novel right now since it’s our first day of big seas, but I know in a few short days (or by the end of today!) we’ll grow tired of this game of 3-dimensional Twister on a roller coaster.

The only good thing about the rough seas is that it forces the whalers to take a time-out. Hopefully these conditions extend all the way to the whaling grounds and has put a halt to the killing of whales.

More soon,
Melanie

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