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Driver’s Ed in the Bering Sea

ABOARD THE JOIDES RESOLUTION, ON THE BERING SEA– Wrapping up the second to last site might otherwise be an uneventful, if somewhat relaxing occasion. But today was a bit different. Most of the other transits have happened at the end of my shift, when I was really busy or fairly late at night. But today the transit happened at about 1:30pm, and it was a bright sunny day. And more importantly, Captain Alex let me drive.

There are a few things to do when we get underway, and I only handled the manual steering portion. We directed our rudders so that we were facing into the wind, and slowly increased our speed, keeping it under 3 knots (about 0.8 knots to be exact). It takes time for the thrusters to warm up and for the ship to get into the transit mode after sitting relatively stationary for several days. Going slow gives things some time to adjust and prevents us from damaging the ship (and more importantly, the folks working in the engine room when things start going wrong).

That’s me behind the wheel.

Basically I had to watch our heading and adjust to keep us headed in the right direction, and eventually get us onto the new heading of 353 degrees. We are headed to the farthest point North we are visiting. Since we are going above the 60th latitude, we are going into the Arctic Ocean. This is particularly interesting because in a few short months the ship will be headed to the other extreme when it reaches the Antarctic.

Eventually we turned the ships controls back to automatic, and she is already settling in at NAV1-B, soon to be site U1345. We made great time at almost 12 knots the whole way. The typhoon Vamco is headed our direction after moving away from Japan. Amusing that it will drop out of the news now that it doesn’t threaten land, but it still poses a threat to us. Hopefully it will die down before we start our journey south to Japan early next Tuesday morning.

Everyone is tired and yet excited to be done. Preparations are beginning to deal with cleaning up and packing up the ship to make ready for the next expedition. There are customs forms to fill out and arrangements to be made for when we get to Japan. Of course it will be nice to have a bed that doesn’t rock again.

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