Day 34: On Recommence Après Troubleshoot

Coordinates: 74.07 N 91.75 W

Today's location.

Today’s location.

On recommence après troubleshoot. Credit Martine Lizotte.

On recommence après troubleshoot. Credit Martine Lizotte.

“On recommence après troubleshoot” is something Martine Lizotte, one of the scientists, wrote down in her laboratory notebook after our sulphur analysis robot ran into a problem during a run, but it’s also a pretty good summary of our current situation. In French-English, it means “We restart after troubleshooting”, and that’s been on the order of the day at this station. Our progress was delayed when the cable to the trace metal rosette caught fire and broke (perhaps caught fire is not entirely accurate – I didn’t see it – but witnesses said something about black smoke). Our rather great technical crew fixed it with lots of resin, but it still meant a delay of about eight hours, and as of this writing, it needs to be fixed again. Meanwhile, everyone is quite tired, and there’s a palpable sense of exhaustion, which brings a sort of camaraderie – the type of camaraderie felt by small communities of people facing shared discomfort in remote places. The days blur, because there are no shared sleeping schedules and no nighttime and no external reference points and lots of repetitive work – filling bottles, emptying them, pipetting, sampling, pressing buttons, and the ever-present filtering (filtering seawater is a bit of an oceanography mainstay). Many people are therefore spending lots of time in tiny labs, listening to podcasts and audiobooks as they do the small simple movements that make up the bulk of the work of scientific discovery.

Thomas and José to the rescue! Fixing the trace metal rosette cable. Credit Martine Lizotte.

Thomas and José to the rescue! Fixing the trace metal rosette cable. Credit Martine Lizotte.

Our night-crew boatswain Patrick. Credit Martine Lizotte.

Our night-crew boatswain Patrick. Credit Martine Lizotte.

Small exciting things happen. The weather remains absolutely splendid, a fact we celebrated with a barbecue on the helideck. We found a sailboat off the starboard port yesterday, and heard it on the radio as well – an unmistakable Euro-French accent on a weak crackly connection asking about ice conditions in Pil-SOOOND – Peel Sound. The fellows on board have sailed to the Archipelago from Brest, France – rather a big thing. It’s remote enough to be in the Arctic on a large expedition icebreaker with a couple dozen very professional sailors, and to in comparison, sailing that far on a tiny sailboat seems somewhat epic. They’ve since sailed off into the horizon, and we wish them well.

Our French friends at sea.

Our French friends at sea.

Our bird friend, with a French sailboat in the background.

Our bird friend, with a French sailboat in the background.

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