Dana Tomlinson: Day 9, March 9, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Dana Tomlinson

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

March 1 – 27, 2002

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2002

Lat: 5°N
Long: 110°W
Seas: E/NE 2-5 ft.
Visibility: unrestricted
Weather: partly, occasionally mostly cloudy
Sea Surface Temperature: 78-82°F
Air Temp: 87-76°F

Today, we did our first recovery/deployment of a buoy. What a fascinating 6 hour process. I was very impressed by the way the entire crew worked together as a team to make this complicated, and potentially dangerous, process happen.

At first light, two scientists (Brian and Nuria) motored out to the buoy (which was about 10 miles from where it should have been) from the Ka’imimoana in a small craft. They tied the buoy to a rope which was winched up back on deck. The buoy was then pulled to the ship and carefully hoisted aboard (in 6-8 ft swells with about 15 knot winds). It was placed over a hole in the deck so that Raye could scrape the barnacles off from below. (more barnacle talk tomorrow) It was missing its anemometer – lost at sea! Then the scientists started to winch in the wire which holds, at regular intervals, the thermometer pods, or Thermisters, which have been on this buoy for the past year collecting temperature data. After those are cut off, all of the 500 m (one spool) of wire is spooled. (We found a mass of fishing line that was snagged on the wire. This probably helps to account for why the buoy was 10 miles off. The fishing boat that was attached to the line probably pulled it.) Then comes 5-6 spools of white nylon rope to pull up. Then, there’s another 50 m of nylon rope, at the end of which is an acoustic coupler – a device that automatically releases the anchor line from the anchor by remote. Done with recovery!

To deploy the new buoy, it’s not exactly a reverse process because the buoy goes in first, followed by the line and then anchor last. The buoy (with anemometer!) gets hoisted over the side by crane and released with the wire on board attached to it. The wire starts getting released and the Thermisters are attached to the line at their intervals, then the rest of the wire is released and then the many spools of nylon rope. Then the acoustic coupler is attached and finally the anchors are carefully placed into the water. The ship then motors back to the buoy, which has floated over a mile away, to make sure it has ended up in the correct location and is floating properly upright. The scientists have purposefully deployed the anchor at a certain location knowing that the anchor will pull the buoy back some, but not all of the way. The barnacle talk will wait for tomorrow since the buoy explanation took so long! Stay tuned!!

Question of the Day: 

At the end of the url for this website and on every buoy we recover and deploy, it says “TAO.” What does TAO stand for?

Answer of the Day: 

Mr. Whitham’s class in San Diego was the first to respond with the correct answer. To change Celsius into Fahrenheit, one must take the Celsius number, multiply it by 9/5 and then add 32. C x 9/5 + 32 = F So, 27.6C is about 81F. (A hint that an Australian friend of mine told me is, if the Celsius number is in the 20’s or higher, just multiply the Celsius number by 3 and you’re close enough. In this case, pretty darn close!!).

Til tomorrow,
🙂 Dana

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