Goan to Antarctica....

Goan scientist Helga do Rosario Gomes is en route to the icy continent, and is keeping her blog of the journey...

Monday, November 21, 2005

At 61oS... all hell broke loose

The cuteness of the port of Lyttelton with its picturesque cottages and bakeries selling pork pies belies the fact that once you leave its almost perfectly circular harbor, the waters pack a punch.

Our boat started pitching and rolling almost immediately and that wasn't fun for sea sickness prone oceanographers already primed with large concentrations of anti sea sickness medicines which really do you no good except send your heart racing or make you so sleepy you are no good for any work.

Some did swear by the small patches that they wore on their necks but I wonder. Fortunately for me, I have good sea legs which I like to think is because of my maiden voyage from Mombasa to Goa as a kid. Others scoff my tale but it makes for a good story which I occasionally embellish because I can remember nothing.

Our first days were spent bolting and tying down everything we had and attending a dozen safely drills and meetings. The worst one is the first fire drill when you lug your safety suit and other gear up three flights of stairs and then force yourself into the huge rubber thing that can only be accessed via the front zipper -- like a baby's suit.

Safety, Safety, Safety says a young lady Raytheon tech who stands no more than five feet but packs a lot of muscle. A few hours later she proceeds to almost kill me with a swinging door. Every working moment is spent tying down or bolting everything we had.

The rest of the time was spent labeling the drawers which from my experience no one will read or care about because we will be too busy. Oh well it's the mood of the moment.....

Then we hit 61oS where the Polar Front is roughly located and enter the South Sea and all hell broke loose. Cold and very strong winds blasted our ship which went totally out of control at least in my opinion. Cupboards flew open and stuff hit people - the labels surprisingly stayed. In the galley manned by a Cordon Bleu chef, getting a bowl of soup and taking it to your seat became a Herculean feat. Staying alive was getting tiring.

We were banned from going out as monster waves rode the decks. Glancing from the porthole was scary for it was water one moment when the waves raised the ship and gray skies the next when it was brought back. Everybody claimed to have seen the biggest wave and some had photos to prove it too. I have enclosed one. -- Helga


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