Mavis Peterson, June 26, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mavis Peterson
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
June 21 – July 9, 2005

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: North Pacific, Alaska
Date: June 26, 2005

Weather Data 

Lat.:55 o7.2 N
Long.: 160 07.4W
Visibility:  1
Wind direction: 123
True wind speed: .9 knts
Swell wave height: 1
Sea water temperature: 9.15 C
Dry bulb 19.8
Wet bulb 9.0
sea level pressure: 1011.5
Cloud cover and type: cumulus overcast

Science and Technology Log 

I spent the morning in the radar (chart?) room listening and taking in what I could of a training session on putting the physically captured information into a program called Pydro. Obstructions like new rocks are marked as primary or secondary, or for example a ledge with a rock together may be marked as primary.  There seems to be a lot of room for discretion by the person entering the information.  There are many folders of information such as AWAIS, which means there is a shipwreck feature.  There is an entry called reports that allows information to be included in sentence form.  This information will not show up on the finished product but is helpful to the cartographer that is actually making the final map.  It may make his work more accurate.  Yesterday I talked about the dotted line that might be drawn in that shows an area that is not navigable–I think I called it an obstruction line, in reality it is called a foul line. I was also given a Julian calendar which means the days are numbered 1-365.

We are pulling anchor and getting underway.  We will be leaving Eagle harbor for Sandpoint, which I have not found that on the map.  We pulled anchor at 1:30.  It is quite a process and again it is necessary that the crew is communicating effectively with one another. The crew uses some sort of sign language as well as radio communication with the bridge. It is necessary the bridge knows what is going on because they may have to move the ship in order to keep the anchor in the correct position for retrieving it.  The anchor is pulled up by a large motor and stored in a side well of the ship.  There are actually two anchors on this ship; the size of the ship dictates how many anchors it has.  I thought maybe they used both of them when anchoring in deep water, but was assured that using both was not done very often because of the motion of the water and the possibility of “braiding” the anchor lines is very real and an immense problem.  If for some reason they would use both anchors, there is a way to do it that puts the ship and the two anchors in sort of a “V” pattern and this would help with the braiding problem.  As the chain of the anchor was rolled onto the ship it was hosed off.

Answer to yesterday’s question about what happens to this information:  The completed maps are used by any ocean going vessels.  Because shorelines and the ocean floors change constantly, and because new technology is constantly being developed, this is an ongoing process that needs to be continually updated.  Charting the coastal waters was first begun under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson and has continued on to today. The first use of the information is for commerce and right behind that is the fisheries industry.  The information is available on a web page.  Some of the specialized equipment actually comes from those other countries, especially the Nordic countries.  The davits come from England.

Personal Log 

As I visit with Crewmembers, I have found that there is a great deal of turnover in this profession. NOAA ship personnel are required to spend two years at sea, then three years in offices, in places like Seattle, then another rotation at sea.  Many wage mariners choose to quit after the first five years.  Being at sea means making many sacrifices.  The FAIRWEATHER goes out on “legs” of about 10-12 days and then comes in at one of several ports for a couple of days. They are on the water over 200 (220?) days a year.  During the off-season they go to school to learn to use new equipment, and/or work on repairs for the ship.

I dropped one of my cameras on the way to the laundry room and parts fell everywhere.  Hopefully I found all the pieces and will try putting it back together later.  The LCD is not readable so I will use the other camera a lot.  I did my laundry this evening and while waiting I did some reading.  Some of the crew visited Sandpoint by launch.  I chose not to go. The last launch that returned about 12:30 a.m. had some trouble when they went to dock at the FAIRWEATHER. According to stories this morning the adrenaline was running a little high for a few minutes, but they managed to get the launch in safely, and there was no imminent danger involved.

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