The Laurence M. Gould arrived back at Palmer from Punta Arenas, Chile this past Saturday. The good news is that it brought in Jim as well as the third co-leader of this project, Bill Baker (from the University of South Florida), and Dan Martin, a technician/diver working for Bill on the USF side of the project. The bad news is that the ship leaves to head back to Punta Arenas on Thursday morning, it takes me with it.
Jim, Bill, and I all have graduate students and other responsibilities at our home universities that don’t stop needing our attention when we go to Antarctica. We can do a lot by e-mail and telephone, but still there are lots of things better done in person.
Our project will be at Palmer for just over three months (so add two weeks for travel to and from, and most of the group will be away from home three and a half months). Jim, Bill, and I all felt that what would be ideal for the three of us would have been for each of us to be on station for two months with me here the first two and them here the last two. We would have all been here for a month in the middle.
Unfortunately as far as those plans were concerned, the ship does a lot more than just take people to and from Palmer Station. It is an excellent research vessel and has a joint mission of supporting the station and supporting ship-based marine science. In the three months that our project is here, it is only making three trips from Chile to Palmer: the one that brought the rest of the group and me in February, the one that just brought in Jim, Bill, and Dan, and then another in May that will stay for two days and then go right back to Chile carrying everyone in our group but me.
So, with that schedule, Jim, Bill, and I all had to stay a shorter time on station than we’d wanted and we will overlap for not quite five days. As they are getting their boating training and Bill and Dan are doing their gear check out dives, I’m trying to get things tied together and packed up to leave. One of my last dive tending days was Bill’s and Dan’s first dive. It is an odd contrast.
This won’t be my last journal entry, however. As Maggie mentioned in a post, I’ll be writing about the local ship wreck, the Bahia Paraiso, as I was part of the group that was rapidly deployed to study the impact if the resulting oil spill on the local biota. And you’ll almost certainly hear about some other aspects of our wondrous experiences here this year as well.
I’ve often told folks that I’ve always looked forward to going to Antarctica but, when my time was over here, I have always looked forward to going home. This is the first time I haven’t felt like "my time was over" but, still, I’m going home. I look forward to being home in Birmingham, but am not quite ready to leave here. Yet leave here I must...