Mary Cook, December 13, 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 13, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°45.88’S, Longitude 85°30.36’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 147
Relative Humidity (percent) 72.19
Air Temperature (celsius) 19.34
Water Temperature (celsius) 19.36
Air Pressure (millibars) 1015.75
Wind Speed (knots) 15.71
Wind Speed meters/sec 8.08

Question of the Day

Why aren’t light waves or radio waves used for ocean exploration?

What is a nautical mile?

Positive Quote for the Day

“The Earth is given as common stock for man to labor and live on.” Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, 1785

Science and Technology Log

Today the Woods Hole scientists are making preparations for the new Stratus 5 mooring deployment. Early this morning Paul and Jason were placing the CTD units in ice water to spike the temperature sensors and set the clocks on each unit. Using cranes, winches and ropes, the boatswain and his crew in conjunction with the WHOI scientists moved the old Stratus 4 away from the launch site and put the new Stratus 5 in position for tomorrow. All the instruments are being readied and the ship is making a horseshoe-shaped transit as the Seabeam records echo soundings from the ocean floor. Echo sounding is when sound waves are sent to the bottom and then bounced back to a receiver. This can then be used to show the depth of the ocean at that location. The Seabeam can make an 8 kilometer-wide reading as the ship moves along. The computer display of the ocean floor looks like several parallel ridges. Bob Weller says the ship is also running parallel to those ridges which will aid in the placement of the anchor. If we were going perpendicular to the ridges the anchor deployment would be more difficult and hampered by the ship going against the trade winds.

We had our weekly fire and abandon ship drills and they announced that we are over 800 nautical miles from Chile. The San Felix islands are about 300 nautical miles from here. All of the WHOI guys have turned in early because tomorrow is an even bigger day than yesterday!

Personal Log

OK. I know I wimped out last night. Sorry. So today I’ll try to do better. Besides being really tired last night, it was windy and the ship’s motion tossed me back and forth in the bed. All night long I had the instinctive feeling that I needed to hang on tight to the railing. Even when I was asleep, there was a persistent apprehension in the back of my mind that I was about to be thrown from my bed!

Yesterday, everyone worked outside so much that today we’re all sunburned and have red noses. It doesn’t seem to matter how much sunscreen I use, the sunrays still penetrate and zap me.

I’ve been working on my lesson plans and, boy, do I have some of the greatest resources! Chris and Dan, the meteorologists sat down with me and we brainstormed some radiosonde lesson plan ideas. Diane has given me some great input and is helping it all come together. I want these lesson plans to be useful, practical and interesting all the while meeting or exceeding our state and national education standards.

It’s a beautiful sunshiny day (which is rare here) and the white capped waves skipped across the indigo-colored waters as far as the eye could see. Very picturesque. I wanted to go out to the ship’s bow but the wind was whipping around too strongly. I enjoyed watching the guys move the two buoys into position. It’s fascinating to watch big machinery work. My stomach got a little tense when the buoy was suspended by ropes in midair and the ship’s motion caused it to swing. There’s just not much room for error on the fantail because there’s equipment stored everywhere. But the guys did a great job and made it look easy. “All in a day’s work” is what they say. I’m still impressed.

“Chester”, one of the young men in the Chilean navy, just showed us his CD photos of Antarctica, when he was there for research and training. His research was with whales. He said that he took biopsies of whales. That sounds dangerous to me, but the photos were so cool! (pun intended)

I got more emails today from school and family. It always makes me smile to open the messages and read what’s happening back home. It’s an encouragement to know that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. I have to say, I’m missing my students. I’ve never realized how much energy they give me. I think about them often. I’ll be glad to see them again in January.

Well, this has been another great day for this Teacher at Sea!

Until tomorrow…


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