Mary Cook, December 22, 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 22, 2004

Location: Latitude 31º58.92’S, Longitude 73º01.21’W

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 88.87
Air Pressure (millibars) 1012.32
Air Temperature (Celsius) 16.59
Wind Direction (degrees) 228.6
Wind Speed (knots) 16.9
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.66
Sunrise 0643
Sunset 2058

Question of the Day

What is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas?

Positive Quote of the Day

“The air doesn’t even know its own temperature.” L.F. Richardson

Science and Technology Log

Actually, not much science happened on the ship today because everyone’s packing up and getting ready to off load tomorrow morning. The last radiosonde was released at 1600. We had an All Hands meeting with Captain Wright in the library. We were given instructions about disembarking and when to return to the ship.

It has been very sunny today. I think we have finally left the stratus cloud layer!!!! Bob Weller told me that today’s sunset was a good opportunity to see the green flash. I have never seen a green flash! I can’t wait!

Personal Log

This morning, out on the fantail, Diane videotaped me recapping the last three weeks of my life at sea. It’s hard to recap something of such magnitude. I’ve been putting it off for a couple of days because I just didn’t want to think about it being over. Besides, how do I condense it? Diane recommended that I focus on the highlights. It’s funny because everything has been a highlight. Of course, recovery and deployment of big buoys would be on everyone’s highlight list. And that was amazing. Just to think about being with the world’s best oceanic and atmospheric scientists who are deploying the world’s most sophisticated instrument for studying air-sea interactions is both humbling and exciting. The coordination of scientists, crew, and officers was really something to see. But what nobody knows is, that for me, just finding out how an acoustic release works was a highlight. And watching the SeaBeam as we passed over the Nazca Ridge. And holding the miniature cups for the first time. I’ve never touched anything that’s been 9000 feet down in the ocean. And watching the graph develop on the computer as the radiosonde flew up into the clouds. Having all those squiggly lines explained to me in a fashion where they now have meaning and substance was enlightening. When they deployed the Chilean Tsunami Buoy, I couldn’t help but think about how many lives this obscure little buoy could help save. Just gazing out over the ocean and letting my spirit soar has been wonderful, inhaling some of the cleanest air on Earth. There are so many monumental things that have happened to me in the last three weeks. My heart swells with gratitude to be given this opportunity. I have to say that the absolute most meaningful occurrence in the scientific realm to me was tossing the drifting buoy that my students have adopted. Our school’s logo and all their signatures are out there somewhere on that little drifter. Our little drifter. When I tossed it into the ocean I felt as though I was giving all my students a gift. A gift of opportunity and challenge. I’ve decided to name the little drifter Bob, for two reasons, the drifter is bobbing around at the ocean’s surface plus the Chief Scientist who requested a Teacher at Sea is named Bob. We’re going to put a big map up in the hallway at Southside Middle School entitled “Where’s Bob?” Each morning Bob’s latitude and longitude will be announced and plotted on the map. Bob Weller has been so helpful and willing to answer all my questions and helped ensure that I got involved in every scientific work done on the ship. Dr. Bob Weller is a big reason why the opportunity was opened up for a Teacher at Sea to participate in the Stratus 2004 cruise. Had he not requested that a Teacher at Sea be onboard then I would still be back in Arkansas eating Christmas candy, watching football, and hoping for a snowflake.

Of course, I’ll never forget those rip-roaring RHIB rides!

And still, I’ve yet to mention the human side of this experience. I’ve loved meeting all these people, each with their own special qualities that make ship life such a dynamic process. There’s not enough space to mention everyone’s name but each person on this ship contributes in a vital way. It may be washing the dishes or mopping the floor or operating the winch or taking pictures of clouds or standing watch. It’s all important and the people doing those jobs are valuable. The officers, marine crew and scientists all have my respect and admiration. Something I’ve noticed about everyone on the ship is that they have a refreshing spirit of exploration.

There’s no way I can recap this cruise without mentioning my mentor, Diane Stanitski. Not long after we met and the very first day onboard, she said (in her excited and bubbly way) “We’re going to write a book about this cruise! You’ll write it. Bruce will illustrate it. I’ll edit it.” I thought to myself, “Lady, you’ve got to be kidding.” But I smiled and said, “Sure, that sounds great.”

Now looking back, I can see that was a foreshadowing of things to come. Not just the book but everything else, too. Diane has helped me get the most out of being here. I mean, squeeze every bit of information, joy, and opportunity out of this experi

ence. “Redeem the time” must be her motto. She made sure that I knew what was going on and helped me understand the science behind it. Just like a good teacher, she showed me, told me, modeled proper technique for me, then, let me go on my own.

I knew that I liked Diane before I ever met her. On the NOAA Teacher at Sea website I had read her logs from a couple years back while she was in Hawaii. There was one scenario that conveyed her personality in such a way that I knew she would be a great person to work with. She wrote in her log about taking a RHIB ride to the buoy. The buoy needed repairs. Someone had to climb up on the buoy while it was bobbing in the ocean and fix it. A dangerous feat, I’d say. Anyway, Diane volunteered. In her log entry when she was writing about it she said, “Mom, don’t read this part.” I instantly admired her for considering her mother’s feelings even though it had been an exciting adventure for herself.

Diane has been a great mentor and I’m glad to say that, in her, I have found a new friend with a kindred spirit of adventure and yearning to live life to its fullest.

I have been truly blessed to have been a part of this whole operation.

After tomorrow, all the scientists will have left the ship and be going back home. I will spend a few days ashore then I will re-board the RONALD H. BROWN and continue on to Punte Arenas! I’d like to thank my school, the ship’s captain, and NOAA’s offices for given me this extended opportunity of a lifetime. This is my last log for about 5 days. When I return to the ship I’ll resume sending pics and logs once again. So tune in next week, same time, same station!

Until next week,


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