ON THE PACIFIC, Day 4: Shuffleboard, anyone?

From June 25 to July 9, UO senior physics instructor Dean Livelybrooks and a team of national scientists on board the Atlantis research vessel will recover earthquake-monitoring equipment in the Pacific Ocean. Follow tweets and other activity at @uocas and #uoshiptrip. Visit explorationnow.org/atlantis to follow the action live. To read previous dispatches from the Atlantis, visit http://around.uoregon.edu/cascadia-initiative.

The sun came out June 28 and the Pacific changed from punishing to placid. The only thing bluer than the sky today is the water.

Time for a little r-and-r.

With the Florence coast 40 miles to the east and slowly undulating waves all around, a tour of the Atlantis reveals a research vessel posing as a cruise ship: A student sunbathes near the bow. A crew member curls up with a book. Two research assistants engage in a squirt-gun fight.

I kick off my shoes, throw on some sunscreen and head for the sun.

It’s a welcome release given the long hours everybody puts in – four- to eight-hour shifts, spent crunching numbers or standing watch or completing any number of jobs that keep the Atlantis ship-shape.

Not everyone is taking it easy, however. A look at the live video being shot by Jason, our remotely operated submersible, shows the delicate job under way hundreds of meters below us: Using Jason’s mechanical arms and claw-like grippers, the operator on the Atlantis must fasten a chain to the seismometer equipment on the ocean floor and then screw a bolt in place to lock it tight, so it can be pulled to the surface.

One crew member said it’s like using boxing gloves to thread a needle.

The operator tries and fails a number of times before finding the right angle, and the bolt is finally screwed into place. A sigh of relief goes up from those of us watching on board.

I head back outside to catch the last of a gorgeous day. The sun is setting and my sunbathing buddies are already grumbling about upcoming shifts that will carry well into the night.

The Atlantis is on the move, heading south for six hours and setting up for a recovery operation that will start well after midnight.

Recess is over.

- by Matt Cooper, UO Office of Strategic Communications