GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE -– It's a relatively quiet day at sea, with many scientists onboard preparing last-minute details for experiments and testing. I finally feel like I can find the nearest bathroom without too much trouble, and I'm getting used to regimented hours of eating (break fast at 7:30 a.m., dinner at 11:30 a.m. and supper at 4:30 p.m.). I even had time to use the gym, which has treadmills, weights and even a TV. Not that we can get a huge range of channels. There is Sirius satellite radio pumped into the bunks if you ever want to jam to the oldies.
We've had a few technical snafus with our satellite uplink, but all is mainly OK. We're using a BGAN system to send data (including this blog) along with photos, podcasts, video and whatever else we can squeeze in the digital pipeline. The problem is the connection drops out occasionally, and we can't sit and monitor it all the time. But it's workable and actually kind of amazing we can have this tether to the mainland at all.
One of the most important parts of the trip are the "stations" or stops along the way. That's when the ship comes to a full stop, twice a day, and scientists and technicians lower equipment over the side to capture samples or video clips. It's a choreographed ballet of heavy machine, which means it isn't perfect and there aren't many chances to get it right. The first major one is tomorrow, but it's more of a test until the ship gets closer to the Labrador Sea and the ice floes. The captain tells me we should expect to start seeing ice on Tuesday near Baffin Island, but we've still got a long ways to go.