• Ice in Motion

With three days to go, what does life look like?

The science team of four is about to leave for the buoy retrieval mission in the Arctic. Their journey will start with 2 weeks of quarantine in Seward, AK, followed by a month aboard the Sikuliaq to transit to and collect the buoys that have been anchored underwater collecting data for the last 10 months.

So, what would you be doing in the days before leaving to be at sea for six weeks? Our scientists offer a little peak into their days of preparation leading up to the voyage.


My days are busy tying up loose ends on research projects here, meeting with my students, and making preparations for my class for two of the weeks that I’ll be on the boat. Yesterday I taught two lectures to no one, in a room by myself (and recorded them). This is a result of both going on the cruise and our move to online classes because of COVID (the two events are oddly complementary in terms of class adaptation strategies). Here’s what my whiteboard ends up looking like.

I met up with a few friends (we’ve had a mini Covid social group going all summer, which constitutes most of our human interaction beyond the grocery store) – by the time I get back two of them will have likely moved out of state to new jobs, so it was good to say goodbye. I dropped off my plants with an office babysitter and need to remember to unplug my car batteries tonight (made that mistake last year). It will be good to focus on just a few things for a change in Seward.


I’ve been trying to get in as much family time as possible.  I’ve also been harvesting and trying to franticly do house/yard projects.  By the time we return in October, the growing season will be long over.  One specific example is the hops that I grow in the backyard.  Most years we host a party for the whole research group and harvest together, then make a batch of home-brew in the evening.  This year I did it all alone (well, my son helped a bit… but it was not the same).  

I’m anxious that someone tests positive and we are forced to change plans— after so much effort (everything is twice a hard and takes twice as long with COVID), that would be incredibly frustrating.  

I’m also feeling terrible about my friend and colleague Luc Rainville, who is the Chief Scientist on a damaged Healy that is headed south to a drydock, instead of north to do science.


I have mostly been trying to catch up with my friends and family across the ocean, whom I haven’t seen for 8 months now. And take advantage of the last sunny warm weather I’m going to see this year, as Seattle will be back to its normal rainy self when we come back. I’ve been doing quite a lot of hiking and ‘socially distant’ camping – I’m so grateful I got to explore the stunning beauty of the PNW this year. Now I’m mostly wrapping up some work (especially the parts that depend on good internet connection), packing and looking for a volunteer/victim who’s willing to care for my house plants.

Like Jim, I’m anxious about the tests – with only four of us going it feels like the stakes are very high. It also adds more eventualities one has to plan for – both project-wise (although that’s mostly Jim’s domain) and personally.


I'm frantically trying to finish my fence before Friday and putting off pretty much everything else. Preparing for the seasonal change from summer to fall as well. Hopefully I have enough time to clean up the yard and put the cars and motorcycle on the battery tender.  It's no fun coming home to find all your batteries are dead. At least this year my girlfriend, Jackie, and her dog, Woody, will be at home while I'm gone. Much easier than walking away and leaving an empty house.  My friends are moving out of the shared house we had in Greenlake and I'm stopping by for a socially distant beer and send off.  I've been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about the upcoming trip and where we are going with the ship.

Looking forward to the isolation in Seward a bit actually.  It will be nice to have some forced down time. I have some APL and personal work to do and will try to download some podcasts and music for the time at sea.  Assuming all goes well and we can get on the ship, I'm looking forward to the recovery cruise.  It's exciting knowing the instruments are sitting there full of data, waiting to be recovered.  I'm a bit nervous that we will have to dive on a lot of the moorings, and that conditions for diving won't be ideal.  Looking forward to enjoying some semblance of 'normal' life on the ship.  No masks or social distancing (hopefully)! 

Wish our scientists luck for negative Covid tests, an easy quarantine, smooth sailing, and seamless buoy recoveries!

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