Crossing the Line

Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
Trip End Jan 20, 2009

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

We have been approaching the IDL now for two weeks, held back by route development and storms. Finally we slid across the line without event. I'm not sure if there is any procedure about crossing the IDL like there is crossing the date line but either way, I shaved my head and made a sacrifice to Neptune to get us safely to the other side of the pond.
When we crossed the IDL my processing software had a complete meltdown. The completely round earth is one of those things that a computer can understand but you can put it in situations in the field that completely confuse it. The equivalent would be asking a logic program simething like the "Chicken or the Egg" question. (All geeks turn to Star Trek Movie Number #1 where Spock and Kirk talk to the Ultimate Logic VIGOR). My processing software considered me to be in the western hemisphere up until today, but in it's mind, in the middle of the night, we just jumped to the other side of the other side of the world.  So in the computers mind the world is flat and when you sail off the left side of the screen you come in on the right side of it (take that Columbus). This makes it very hard if you want to print charts of the Pacific Ocean without a break at the IDL. I wrote and email to the software company and the response was "we don't support data that crosses the dateline. We suggest you stop logging, cross the date line, and start again." what a pain. No suggestion on how we map the seafloor directly below the dateline.
 Anyway, headaches with my job are continuing, This is not a Carnival cruise, I'm just reminding all the readers. I really do work out there, I just write about the cool stuff.

Everything about this boat is good though, I really can't find any way to complain. The cooking is great, having my own room is AWESOME and having internet on board is what seals the deal. If this boat didn't have internet, I'm sure we'd all be at each others throat and fighting over DVDs in the lounge. It was wonderful having communication with the outside world. It made me feel like I was not so trapped on a boat. The net was not good enough to skype over but not fast enough for the whole boat to skype at once. If someone was downloading a video or whatever, you could definitely tell. Streaming data really slowed this thing down. So we tried to keep it to a minimum. Regular surfing and email was OK though. And I used it on a daily. Sometimes it was even a distraction having it in the processing area. Keith was addicted to facebook and I found myself randomly surfing sites and started signing up for news blogs I would normally NEVER take the time to read and I even started filling out an online family tree from memory. Using Google to help fill in some of my family genealogy.
Christmas came and went. We had prime rib and king crab legs for lunch, which was the main meal on the boat since we were working opposite shifts. The boat and Kelly were nice enough to wrap up some things for us and put them under the tree for us. Even though I am a bah-humbuger. For some reason all getting together in one room and opening gifts, even if they are mostly similar, still made me feel a moment of comrodery with my shipmates. "Bastardized holiday sponsored by big corporation" or not, it's still nice to get something to unwrap on Christmas morning. No matter how small.
The weather is pretty shitty no matter how you cut it. Even in a 230' boat it still rocks and rolls in 20' seas. And the direction of the planned line doesn't always work with whatever direction the seas are going at the moment. So sometimes it gets real interesting. Big rolls especially, we had a couple of freak sized waves that landed on our asses with overturned chairs and drawers out of filing cabinets on the floor. But those were few and far between. When that sort of thing happened I wondered what it would be like to have random earthquakes in a regular 9-5 office 3-10 times a week and see how the average Joe adapts to having his working space constantly tossed on the floor, add coffee. Tim checked the internet weather at every opportunity and was constantly asking peoples opinion of where they thought the current high pressure system was going to go and if the monsoon coming off of Thailand was going to reach Japan before us.
For New Years we wanted to blow off flares, but we settled for blowing the horn, I doubt anyone heard us. But the way it worked out, we were just past the IDL on New Years so aside from some Russians and a few people in the South Pacific, I got 2009 before anyone else! Paul again spoiled us with Holiday Prime Rib and King Crab Legs, feasts fit for kings. We ate our fill and enjoyed every moment. I didn't make a new years resolution this year, but I am going to do something, that's for sure.
Trying to deal with traveling over so many time zones is difficult. We also did all the changes at 12:00 noon, which was also crew change. So someone was always surprised that they were an hour early. When we really got going after the stint of weather we started changing our clocks back about every 3-4 days. It's a really weird thing to slowly roll the clock back 9 hours over a month. It really lets you know how man-made time is and how much nature doesn't follow it. but vice versa.
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