Sunday, May 5, 2019

Feeding the Masses - by Max K.

Although there are many scientific and logistic challenges involved in sailing to Antarctica, the most pressing questions from my friends and family before my departure were about what I would eat during my 6 weeks at sea. 

Luckily, their concerns over astronaut-style powdered food were quickly dispelled upon my arrival aboard the R.V. Thomas G. Thompson. Head cook Liz, and mess attendants Laurie and Nikki have conjured an impressive variety of fresh dishes over the past three weeks, despite the demands of feeding fifty hungry crew members, who descend on our canteen with the persistence of a pack of gulls at the first scent of food. 

Feeding time at the zoo: Nikki, Liz and Laurie are ready!

The day begins with fresh fruit, yogurt and nuts for the health-conscious ship-mate, or bacon, eggs and pancakes for those in need of a more comforting breakfast. For lunch and dinner we can choose to make our own salad to accompany one of the three or four main dishes. These have ranged from traditionally South African "Bronsai" sandwiches to curried Daahls, enchiladas and spring rolls. Personally, I've been most impressed by the desserts that parade out of the kitchen: peaches baked with ricotta, banana breads, and even a birthday cake! 

Regular visits to the canteen are an important way for us to break up the working days and nights; snacking on Nikki's home-made cashew butter (with a pear if you have a sophisticated palate) gives us the perfect excuse for a quick chat. 

A typical lunch, salad and wrap.
Giuliana, a member of the science party eyes up her prize

But before you begrudge us this bounty of food, remember its necessity to fuel the tireless work that goes on aboard the ship. Through night and day, scientists and crew work together in freezing temperatures and rough seas to conduct research both accurately and safely. The fruit of our labours are sometimes hard to grasp, but helping to deploy a float at such close proximity to the seas, reminds me of the chaotic and beautiful processes to whose understanding we are (hopefully) contributing. 

SOCCOM foat #12885 "The Whale Clams" (a mix of the acronyms of Waterford High School and Clark Lane Middle School, WHS and CLMS) was deployed on April 25, at 4:15 AM, at 56S, 30E. With the help of marine tech Jenny, we lowered the float over the back deck into the dark waters, churned up and illuminated by the boat. Check the SOCCOM website to follow what the float measures:

Jenny and I during the deployment of The Whale Clams (design of the float by Giuliana)
These scientific successes belong just as much to Liz, Laurie and Nikki who have kept us going over these 4 weeks, and who I'm sure will do so over the weeks to come. Indeed, the kitchen is the beating heart of this boat that never sleeps.

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