Sea showers and paper plates

It’s been an odd week here on the Healy. At the beginning of the week we were under water restriction, which usually occurs during super stations. During water restriction, we must take sea showers. The shortened cleansing routine is as follows: water on, get wet; water off, soap up; and rinse off, totaling about 2 minutes of water use. We also cannot do laundry, and use paper plates and plastic utensils in the mess. All of these efforts are done to prevent the ship from filling its waste receptacle while we are on station. We cannot dump our waste at station, because then we would be sampling our waste.

Previous super stations familiarized us with the rules of water restriction, so when mechanical problems arose, we were old pros. An evaporator that provides half of the Healy’s fresh water had gone offline. Luckily there are two evaporators, so we were not completely out of water. After 3 or 4 days of the engineering team working day and night, the system was fixed. Unfortunately, it was just in time for a super station, so our water restriction remained in effect for three more days.

Around this same time, the CTD (conductivity, temperature depth) probe on the GEOTRACES rosette had broken. This is a problem, because not knowing the depth of our samples makes the analysis and interpretation of our results almost useless. After replacing the probe, problems persisted, further frustrating the technicians. After a day of maintenance, the CTD was fixed and we were able to resume sampling.

After resolving the two above problems, our luck got worse. The incinerator that burns our paper products had a fuel leak. Since there’s no garbage collection at sea, we keep all of the trash we produce on board with us. Due to the large volume of trash produced over 2 months, we burn as much as possible. Unfortunately, this problem will most likely remain unresolved while at sea. We now have to hold onto a lot more trash.

On a more positive note, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring more of the Healy. Befriending crew members has perks, including seeing areas of the ship scientists are typically not allowed to enter. I was invited to go up to aloft conn, which is 7 stories above the main deck. For better visibility, navigation occurs in aloft conn when the ship is in ice. Since you need permission to be there, not many scientists get to go that high on the ship. It was pretty neat to have a bird’s eye view of the Healy and the surrounding seas! Another off limits-area I had the opportunity to explore was the engineering main control room. The Healy is more high tech than many ships, and the main control allows the engineering team to monitor most of the machinery on board. Things such as engine fuel level, water levels, heating and electricity use are some of the parameters they control and monitor.

All in all, it’s been a good week. I’m glad to take regular showers again. Soon we’ll have internet again, and hopefully I’ll be able to post more pictures.​

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