Mary Cook, December 14, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 14, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°45.13’S, Longitude 85°30.82’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 164.30
Relative Humidity (percent) 75.74
Temperature (Celsius) 18.60
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.02
Wind Speed (knots) 15.33
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.40

Question of the Day

Why do you think the floaters are made of glass?

Positive Quote for the Day

“Patience is passion tamed.” Lyman Abbott

Science and Technology Log

At about 5:30 this morning the WHOI guys are up early and ready to go! This is the day that the new and improved Stratus 5 surface mooring is deployed! It’s what everyone has been working toward. My understanding is that first, the mooring line and upper 50 meters of instruments will be put in the water and attached to the buoy. Second, the buoy will be deployed with a quick release hook off the port side. Then the ship will move ahead to bring the buoy behind it. Next, the ship will slow down and move ahead as needed to keep the buoy aft while the crew attaches the remaining instruments. The last things to be put on the mooring line are the glass ball floaters, the acoustic release, and then the 9000 pound anchor. We’ll wait around for a couple of hours for the anchor to sink and settle, then, they’ll take a Seabeam (echo-sounding) survey of the ocean floor where the anchor is located. After the survey, we’ll move downwind of the buoy and tomorrow inter-comparison testing will begin.

Now, it’s 5:30 in the afternoon, and all the hard work is completed. Everything went off without a hitch. Well, almost. There were a couple of tense moments throughout the day, but all in all it went very well. The planning and orchestration of the whole process is quite amazing with several people communicating with radios and hand signals, all getting it done just right.

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail”, we interviewed Keir Colbo who works for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He shared with us his duties for the day. According to Keir, his job is to stay out of the way and record everything in a logbook. I mean everything. Keir wrote down the deployment time, serial number and order of every instrument that went into the water. He counted every glass ball floater (total 90). He recorded the Global Positioning System (GPS) reading of the anchor as it was dumped into the ocean. GPS uses a receiver to locate an object by detecting a series of satellites. Keir also explained the glass ball floaters. They are 5/8 inch thick glass domes with a diameter of 17 inches. The glass balls are put into bright yellow plastic hulls that protect from breakage and enable them to be chained together. Keir’s job is very important even though at times it may seem monotonous. When the scientists return next, his records will be the first thing they pull for references to make sense of the science.

Personal Log

It’s 5:30 Tuesday morning and I am sitting at my desk thinking about the day that’s before us. The ship is constantly moving with the ocean motions. There’s no way to get away from it – it’s always a presence with me. I can’t help thinking that we’re atop something alive and breathing. Every time there’s a swell it feels like the ocean is taking a deep breath and then slowly exhaling. It reminds me of the rhythmic breathing of someone who is asleep. I must admit, I can more easily understand why some ancient cultures worshipped the ocean or devised amulets for protection from the spirits of the ocean. Well, I don’t worship the ocean but everyday I gain a deeper respect and appreciation for it – for its vastness, and power and how much all of life on Earth is so intricately dependent upon its wellbeing. Even living things that are a long way from the ocean like in Arkansas, or south central Siberia, depend on the ocean.

I enjoyed today. We watched all the guys working in unison to get the work done which has danger lurking around every corner. These guys are safety-minded, too. They do things right and they watch out for each other. It’s also cool to see the Chileans and Americas working together. It’s like it should be. My least favorite part of the day was waiting for all the cable to reel out. I took a nap. My most favorite part of the day was when the 9000 pound anchor was dumped overboard! What a BIG splash! It sounded like someone doing a cannonball at the city swimming pool. Everybody was smiling.

Happy Birthday, Deano.

Until tomorrow…..


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