Diane Stanitski: Day 6, August 16, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Diane Stanitski

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

August 16-30, 2002

Day 6: Friday, August 16, 2002
Time: 12:47 PM
Latitude: 21°14.715’North (N)
Longitude: 157°57.378’West (W)

My first daily log…I love every minute on the ship! Everything is so interesting. I have already learned a great deal about the science to be conducted on board during the next 24 days. Before departing from Pier 7 at the Hickam Air Force Base, Dr. John Kermond, who will be directing and videotaping the Teacher at Sea (that’s me), filmed me on land in front of the ship as I described my weeklong activities in Honolulu. After climbing aboard, the ship then separated from the pier at 0830 as the gangplank was lifted onto the ship.

We started the day with three emergency drills. The first was a collision drill and it required that all scientists go immediately to the computer room while the other crew members simulated what to do in case of a collision with another object on the sea. We then experienced an abandon ship drill, which is activated when we hear more than 6 loud rings of the alarm bell followed by one final long ring. We must immediately go to our stateroom (like a college dorm room) and grab a pair of long pants, a hat, closed-toed shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt. In addition, we have to carry our life jacket and survival suit, otherwise known as the gumby suit, a bright orange neoprene suit with attached booties and gloves that would keep you alive in the water for days if misfortune should reach you.

Three NOAA inspectors also participated in the drills by ensuring that all details were addressed and all materials were up to par. They checked to make sure that the flashlights on our life jackets worked and that we had an attached whistle. After 3 buzzers sounded, the drill was over and everyone returned to their regular activities. We then practiced the man overboard drill with a mannequin floating in the water. The RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat) was lowered and a group of crew members rescued the mannequin in an efficient manner. The inspectors were then to return to shore after 3 days of inspection on the ship. I was asked if I would like to accompany them back to shore on the RHIB… definitely!!! I grabbed a hardhat and life jacket and hopped on board the RHIB before it was lowered into the water. We sailed across the ocean’s surface and dropped off the departing group. I stepped onto land again for the last time for the next 24 days. It was exciting but I was anxious to leap back on board the KA.

We arrived back at the ship and it was then that Doug (aka Nemo) came over and asked if I had the muscle to ratchet and lock away the RHIB on the davits (a holder for the RHIB or life boat when not in use). I immediately agreed to do it and he put me to work while John videotaped the event and the Commanding Officer (CO or Captain), Mark Ablondi, watched along with a few others. Yikes! There was no way that I was going to stop, despite the challenge of the task. I managed to secure it at the top! I’d better watch what I agree to do in the future. I decided to work out in the exercise room, which consists of an air-conditioned space on the second deck all the way forward in the ship holding 2 exercise bikes, a treadmill, row machine, weights, and a mat that you can use to stretch. There is a fan, TV, and radio to keep you preoccupied and motivated. I chose the treadmill and discovered that you’d better hang on because as the ship rolls and/or pitches (the difference will be explained later in my logs), it tends to knock you off balance.

The ship was delayed by 2 days due to the unavailability of a licensed engineer. It was supposed to depart on August 13 (3 days ago), and so I had 2 more days in Honolulu – darn! My husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary on August 14 and so were pleased that we could actually be together since he came to Hawaii to see me off on the ship. We decided to celebrate by flying to the Big Island of Hawaii where we drove from Kona to Volcanoes National Park to see fresh lava oozing from the surface of Kilauea, the active volcano currently erupting on the southeastern side of the island. It was fantastic! We also toured a coffee plantation and bought some fresh 100% Kona coffee. What a treat! Despite the newly expected departure of August 15, we still didn’t leave until this morning because new batteries needed to arrive before departure. All in all, we had a productive week in Honolulu because of our delays.

This has been a wonderful week and first day. I can’t believe that I’m here, and I know how lucky I am to be a part of this great adventure. The people on board the ship couldn’t be better. They’re extremely helpful and fun people who enjoy discussing their research ideas.

Stay tuned for another log tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing from each one of you so please email me ASAP!


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