Kirk Beckendorf, July 18, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kirk Beckendorf
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown

July 4 – 23, 2004

Mission: New England Air Quality Study (NEAQS)
Geographical Area:
Northwest Atlantic Ocean
July 18, 2004

Weather Data from the Bridge
Time 9:15 ET
Latitude- 44 01.29 N
Longitude- 67 13.5 W
Air Temperature 14 degrees C
Water Temperature 13 degrees C
Air Pressure 1015 Millibars
Wind Direction at surface Southeast
Wind Speed at surface 10 MPH
Clouds Cloudy

Daily Log

What do you do if the weather gets rough? (Besides get seasick and throw up.)

The weather forecast for tonight calls for strong winds and 15 foot waves (the ceiling in your bedroom is probably 8 feet high). The crew has been making sure that nothing is loose on the ship. Everything needs to be strapped, tied or chained down. If the ship is pitching and rolling a lot, you don’t want things flying around, otherwise someone could get hurt or something could get broken. We have also been instructed to make sure none of our own supplies are loose.

I spent some time visiting with Chris, a member of the deck crew. He has been on the BROWN for a little over two years. Before that he was working on commercial ships. He said the roughest seas he has sailed in weren’t that big, only about 20 foot waves. When the waves are closer together, he says it isn’t as rough as compared to when they are further apart. Chris said, as the ship climbs up a wave and then beaks over the top, if there is not another wave to land on, the ship drops down into the trough below. This makes for a lot rougher ride than when the waves are close together, and the ship can land on the next wave. After this cruise, he will be transferring to a higher position on another NOAA ship. Eventually, he would like to work back on shore for a fire department. A lot of the safety training he has received from being a deck hand on the ship would fit right into a fire department. As part of the deck crew’s training, he has received EMT (Emergency Medical Technician); fast boat and other rescue training and firefighting training. When your ship is at sea for a month or so at a time, 300 days a year, the crew really needs to be self sufficient. You are your on fire department and medical team; there may not be anyone close by to call.

Drew Hamilton now works at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, but before that he worked on NOAA ships for 15 years. He said his first cruise with NOAA was in the middle of the Sargasso Sea in hurricane with 30 foot seas. Ten years ago he was on a ship delivering supplies to scientists working in Antarctica. For 4 days the ship fought its way through high winds and 30 foot waves. Almost everyone was sea sick, even the experienced sailors. It was a rough way to start his sailing career.

Sallie Whitlow, a scientist from the University of New Hampshire, has her instruments on top of a large container van on the bow of the ship. Once during a storm she was working on the equipment. When the waves started breaking over the bow, she decided it was time to go inside.

At this evening’s science meeting the new weather report shows that the storm is not going to be as intense as was previously thought. The rough seas probably won’t happen. Bummer, I was looking forward to an exciting ride.

Questions of the Day

What town and state was the ship from, that was lost in “The Perfect Storm”?

Where are we located compared to where that storm occurred?

Where is the Sargasso Sea?

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