June 8. Day 2
You may sit on the deck
The tossing is getting stronger. After breakfast it was stronger than at 8 am, and after lunch – stronger than after breakfast. Although the expedition participants were not very eagerly coming to the canteen to have breakfast, at 9 am at the first lecture there were no vacant seats. So the expedition head, Konstantin Zaikov, had to sit right on the floor. (Later the first mate Sergey Khokhlov said “you may sit on the deck” meaning the floor. Probably there is no floor on the vessel, only deck. And this is not the only example of the sea jargon used by the crew).
The course of lectures started with history. Nicolai Danilov in every detail spoke about the Russian Arctic history from the IX century up to the present time. Everybody listened very attentively, trying not to pay attention to the tossing and to the fact that the screen with the presentation slides was swinging. However some expedition participants were not feeling well and didn’t attend the lecture.
By the beginning of the second lecture there appeared a mosquito in the room. The lecture was about the ecological risks in the Arctic and also touched upon the fauna. However, insects were not a part of the presentation, that is why the mosquito was trying to improve the situation annoying the students.
The industrial exploration of the Arctic region and especially its continental shelf causes a certain conflict of interests. This area is rich not only in diverse mineral, but also biological renewable resources. The Barents sea, which we haven’t reached yet, is a leader in both these types of resources.
Some facts about the Barents Sea
- Surface area 1 405 000 km2
- Water volume 282 000 km3
- Mean depth 220 m
Silvia Kostovska from the Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences, said that this sea is characterized by different complicated features and this must be taken into account. For example, gas-hydrates can be found everywhere in the bottom settlings, but mainly lie deep, however, in the Barents sea the gas-hydrate layer is only covered by a thin layer of young ooze. This fact has been taken into consideration by the specialists in industrial safety only recently.
The sun and the white horses
- Look out of the viewports! – the stern first mate Sergey Khokhlov held another safety training today. – What you can see now is about 4 balls. That’s why we see the white horses. You can stay outside only at the stern or at the gallery deck. If the waves become stronger, you’d better stay inside.
Water rescue operations are a complicated science. Putting on a lifejacket is like primary school. First of all, you need to find one in your cabin. As it turned out, not everyone can accomplish this task. After you’ve put on your lifejacket, you must follow the crew instructions and go to the lifeboat. In our expedition those who live in cabins with uneven number go to lifeboat Nr. 1, and those from the cabins with even numbers choose lifeboat Nr. 2. There are two lifeboats on board the RV “Professor Molchanov”. Each of them is enough for 40 people. There are 56 expedition participants and 22 crew members on board, so two lifeboats are enough.
We hear twice 7 short signals and one long, put on our lifejackets (of course, those who have found them in their cabins) and head to the lifeboat. For some reasons, there are many more people living in the “uneven” cabins, that’s why lifeboat Nr. 2 finished the training much faster than lifeboat Nr. 1.
Those, who didn’t manage to find the lifejackets though they were in the cabin, were sent to the kitchen to peel potatoes. This is not a joke. It is necessary to help in the kitchen, that’s why there is a schedule for work in the kitchen for the students and other participants who want to take part in cooking. Nobody objects to that.
But the main adventure of the day was not the safety training, but the acquaintance with immersion suits. As well as the lifejackets, there is one for everyone on board. An immersion suit is bright orange overalls produced in the USSR. It is said that the Chinese ones are more convenient, however the Soviet ones are more reliable. They were produced at a military plant in Leningrad. Every year these suits are checked. If you get in the water of the Barents sea in summer in a lifejacket, you can survive there for 15 minutes, but the immersion suit allows you to stay alive for 6 hours.
If you want to put it on on your own, you, probably, will not succeed. First, you need to “dive” into it like in the sleeping bag and then ask for help. According to the standards, you must manage to put on an immersion suit within 4-5 minutes.
It took 1 min 45 sec for Nikita who volunteered to put on the immersion suit. Looking at his confident movements, everybody doubted that he had never done it before.
- Of course, I haven’t! – rebelled Nikita, – if we do not take into account chemical suits.
And traditionally there was held a polar explorer initiation ceremony which included drinking salty sea water, the presence of Neptun and a certificate proving that we had crossed the Northern Polar Circle (the coordinates of which are 66 degrees 33 minutes 44 seconds N.L.). The ceremony was held in the common-room which is also a lecture hall due to the heave.
- Neptun, why are you wearing a lifejacket? – asked a newly-initiated polar explorer.
- To stay on the surface, of course, as I live at the sea bottom.
- And now let’s go to our laboratory, - the medical and biological module started to work at once. They take blood samples for different tests: genetic, hemostasiological and immunological. The first sample is taken now, the second will be taken on the way back. But the major part of this module work will take place at Vaygach. There they will study the health condition of the local population, in particular, they will analyze risk factors for developing vascular diseases.
And we are still in the White sea, so we can’t avoid telling about it as well.
Some facts about the White Sea
- This is a Russian inland sea.
- Surface area 90 000 km2
- Mean depth 67 m, maximum depth 350 m
- Age 10 000 years
Tomorrow it is planned to arrive at Kolguev. According to the weather forecast at 4pm – and we are supposed to reach it by this time – there will be a storm in that area. But no one can say for sure.