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May 4th, 2003; Leg 5, Day #14

The R/V Western Flyer set sail from La Paz, Baja California Sur, this morning at 8:00 a.m. We’re headed towards the same area in which we dove during the previous leg. This will be about a 21-hour steam north, so much of today was spent preparing for tomorrow’s dive operations and having a fire and boat drill, a safety briefing, and a science party meeting. There are five new faces in the science party: Jill Pasteris, Juan-Carlos Herguera, Peter Walz, Lynne Christianson, and Steve Hallam, who have replaced the previous leg scientists: Bill Kirkwood, Elena Perez, Peter Brewer, Debbie Meyer, and Jeff Nealon.  

During the safety briefing this afternoon, those uninitiated into the wardrobe of shipboard safety gear had the obligatory opportunity of getting into a survival suit, better known as a Gumby suit. In the figure, Lynne Christianson has succeeded in zipping up her suit and is happily waving for the camera. It wasn’t long before she was roasting inside the suit and anxious to have someone help her take it off. These suits are essential gear for survival at sea in the unlikely event that we abandon ship. 

Another piece of shipboard safety gear that has become de rigeur, are steel-toed work boots. Some of us had an opportunity to show off our boots (and legs) this afternoon in the moon pool, and a snappy photographer caught just the legs and boots in this photo (see below). Before she could get another shot of our heads, we rearranged ourselves, and it is up to you to match up the people with the boots. The answer will appear in tomorrow’s update. 






There are five pairs of safety boots and one pink flamingo in the photo on the left. Match the boots (and legs) with the people and the bird in the accompanying photo. Science party members in the photo on the right are: Ed Peltzer, Peter Walz, Patrick Mitts, Pinkie, Bill Ussler, and Steve Hallam.

The previous days in port at Pichilingue were a combination of work and pleasure. The ROV pilots were able to make critical repairs to the ROV manipulator arm, and other systems, in preparation for the next leg. The ship’s crew took on provisions, fuel, and other supplies. The science party finished organizing the labs and samples. Most afternoons we went to downtown La Paz for shopping and a change of venue. Downtown La Paz is about a 30-minute taxi ride south of Pichilingue. The days are much hotter (~32° C or 90° F) compared to those at the beginning of Leg 5A, and are typical of summer weather in La Paz. The town closes down during the afternoon, and most people, except the occasional tourist, seek shade along the streets under awnings, in open-air cafes, and under trees. As the sun begins to set, the towns stirs and comes alive again as night falls along the waterfront. The evening breezes cool the town and open-air dining is popular. The city was geared up for a festival weekend, starting with a May Day celebration, then Saturday’s anniversary of the arrival of Hernan Cortez at La Paz in 1532. A large population was already living in the La Paz area when Cortez landed, primarily because it was one of the safest harbors along the Baja California peninsula. La Paz was established as the first capitol of Baja California Sur, and remained so until the capitol was moved to Monterrey in the early 18th century. Festivities in La Paz will continue tomorrow with a celebration of Cinqo de Mayo. 

Bill Ussler, reporting

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