Posted by: adorsk | June 3, 2007

In the Middle

Hi All,
Thanks for reading, I’m tickled to know that you’re out there.

The Titanic Atlantic

Right now the ship is at about 39.5 N, 45 W, above 4500 m of water. Right in the middle of the Atlantic. We’re not too far South of where the Titanic sank, and it was in fact the Knorr which first found the Titanic back in 1985.

We hit a small patch of rough weather a few days ago, but otherwise the weather has been fine. As we head North, the temperature has been dropping while the days are getting longer.

The ship is starting to feel like home. Perhaps I’ll start to show different places around the ship in subsequent posts. Here is what my room looks like, in a David Hockneyish mash-up composite I made.



My Dad was asking if I have seen a lot of marine life about. I have not. The middle of the Atlantic is actually a rather sterile place. This is because most of the nutrients at the surface have been used up, so there is not enough food to support a large population. This is also why the water is so blue in the middle of the Oceans; there are no nutrients or floaties to cloud it up. One of my professors at SEA used to say, “Blue blue blue, dead dead dead.” Most of the surface life is around the coasts and at the poles. If you want to see what I mean, Wikipedia has a cool page about this: Primary Production

There are a some critters around. (Though they don’t really ‘crit’ out here…maybe flitters is the aquatic analog.) Flying fish pop up here and there, and occasionally some jellyfish float by. I even saw a few birds flying around.

Not a Motley Crew

Maybe you are wondering about the crew. There are a bunch of things the crew does around the ship.

The Captain is like the CEO. He doesn’t steer the ship, but he is the final decision maker and the ship’s representative.

For the deck crew, there are the mates, the Bosun, and able-bodied seamen (ABs). Each mate is responsible for directing a watch. The Bosun (short for ‘Boatswain’) is like the foreman at a construction site. He organizes deck operations and maintains the ship. Historically, the Bosun was also the guy who gave out lashings to punished crew members. Things are a bit nicer now. The ABs work out on the deck and maintain the ship.

Then, there are the Engineering operations inside the ship. The Chief Engineer is responsible for keeping the ship’s systems are running. There are first, second, and third engineers (like the mates) who each are responsible for a watch. In addition, there are oilers who maintain the engine systems.
The Steward and assistant stewards are the cooks. It’s not an easy job to feed an entire ship. We have great stewards aboard, all the meals have been excellent.

Finally, there are the SSSG techs (that’s me!). We keep the ship’s computer and laboratory systems going, and act as an interface between the science party and the captain/chief engineer.

Rock-a-Bye Baby

One neat thing I have noticed: the motion of the ship makes me have incredibly vivid dreams. One night I had a dream in which I was climbing a lot of stairs. Whenever I got to the top of a set of stairs, I would almost fall backwards. As I woke up from this dream, I realized that the falling coincided with the ship’s rolling.

I first observed this motion effect when I was at SEA, and I was interested to know if it would happen again. Sure enough, my mind seems to race at night. It’s like I never fall asleep! Some of the other crew members have told me that this happens to them, too. I’d be keen to know if there are any explanations for this.

That’s all for now. Here are a few more photos below.

Bow Wake The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Life Saver Office View Stern WakeValve



  1. Alexander –
    Thanks for the photos and description of all that is going on and of the crew and their job descriptions.
    The collage of photos of your bunk looks like a Picasso from his cubist period. The last photo on your row of 6 photos, the multicolored wheel with the very blue ocean backdrop, is a wonderful compostion, but for the perfect symmetry – I’d like the composition more if the wheel was less centered – easily done, I’d imagine with the digital camera – then blow it up and mount it on the wall – it’s beautiful. It’s art.
    You mentioned that the temperature is dropping as you go further north – I assume this applies to both air and water temps. How much variation in air temp is there from the water temp once you are at sea and away from continental influence? Are you north of the Gulf Stream already?
    Love – Dad

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