Jeff Lawrence, May 31, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 31, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Wind direction: 340 deg. (NNW)
Wind Speed:  1 knot, light winds
Sea level pressure: 1014
Present weather: mostly cloudy, cool outside, calm seas
Temperature:  49 deg. wet/dry 50.0 deg.

One of the RAINIER’s boat launches going off  on a beautiful day in SE Alaska.
One of the RAINIER’s boat launches going off on a beautiful day in SE Alaska.

Science and Technology Log 

Today I was invited to ride along to Sitka to pick up four crew members and the mail.  The day was beautiful and the boat ride was terrific.  Sitka has been a part of Alaskan history for a long time. The Russians were the 1st Europeans to settle at Sitka.  It was also where Russia turned over Alaska to the U.S. after the purchase by Secretary of State Seward. It was an early capital of Alaska before moving to Juneau. The harbor and city were spectacular, off in the distant background was Mt. Edgecumbe.

Three of the crew we picked up will be returning to the RAINIER after leave. The other passenger has just finished NOAA Corps officer basic training and will be boarding the RAINIER for the first time.  ENS Tim Smith will begin his career with NOAA aboard the RAINIER. Tim is a native of Rhode Island.

Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka
Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka

Personal Log 

Today was a spectacular day in SE Alaska full of warm sunshine, calm winds, and calm water. Later in the day it began to cloud up but the winds remained calm.  On the way to Sitka I was able to observe dozens of sea otter, a sea lion, and a porpoise.  Sitka looks like a picturesque town and popular tourist location for large cruise ships.  There was a large cruise ship in the bay when we arrived.  The surrounding mountains and the backdrop of Mt. Edgecumbe makes for beautiful landscape photos.

Questions of the Day 

How many ships are in the NOAA fleet? What is the name of the 2 ships that do hydrography in Alaska? Approximately how many glaciers does Alaska have? What is the capital of Alaska? What is the capital’s latitude and longitude? When did Alaska become a state?

Ceremonial Tlingit Canoe
Ceremonial Tlingit Canoe
After a dip at the Hot Springs, back to the  RAINIER paddling a kayak in calm waters.
After a dip at the Hot Springs, back to the RAINIER paddling a kayak in calm waters.

Jeff Lawrence, May 30, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 30, 2006

AB Leslie Abramson & Chief Steve Foye  piloting the ship
AB Leslie Abramson & Chief Steve Foye piloting the ship

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours: 
Visibility: 10.0m miles
Wind direction: 350 deg. (N)
Wind Speed:  2 knots
Sea level pressure: 1018
Present weather: Scattered cirrocumulus clouds, sun shining brilliantly – It’s a beautiful morning in SE Alaska.
Temperature:  49 deg. wet/dry 50 deg.

Science and Technology Log 

Earlier this week I went out on launch RA 6 to run some lines off Biorka Island.  The weather was a little dreary and cold but made much warmer by the crew, which consisted of Chief Boatswain Steve Foye, AB (Able Body Seaman) Leslie Abramson, and LTJG (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Nicola Samuelson.

LTJG Nicola Samuelson collecting sonar data aboard RA 6
LTJG Nicola Samuelson collecting sonar data aboard RA 6

Seas were a little rough running between 4 and 6-foot swells, but the crew did an excellent job staying on their lines and completing the task assigned. Conditions are not always ideal, yet the job must still be done.  If seas are too rough the crew will head to a bay or protected area that still needs to be worked.  Steering a boat in rough sea conditions isn’t easy.  Chief Foye was on board to assist AB Abramson if needed.  Leslie did an excellent job controlling the boat while down below LTJG Samuelson was collecting the data from the sonar.  LTJG Samuelson has finished her 2-year assignment with the RAINIER and will be heading to Rhode Island for her next duty station when we reach our next port stop of Juneau.

Personal Log 

This day was an interesting one. I learned when you feel nausea or seasickness it is better to eat something even though you don’t fell like doing so at the time.  I really enjoyed learning so much about the day-to-day data collection techniques used by the crew of the RAINIER. The equipment is quite sophisticated and the people using it are very well trained. LTJG Samuelson was very helpful in explaining how the data is collected, stored, retrieved, and used to make the nautical navigation charts that NOAA publishes.  The boatswain crews are well trained and do a good job piloting the launch boats through strong tide currents, rocky coastlines, and even rough seas.

Questions of the Day 

How deep is a fathom?

When a ship anchors there are red, white, and blue chain links to show how deep the anchor is. What is the length between these colors called?

How long is this length of chain?

How much does one anchor on the RAINIER weigh?

How much does one marked length of chain weigh on the RAINIER?

What is the keel of a ship?

What is meant when people are talking about a ship or boats draft?

What does it mean when a ships bell rings continuously for 5-6 seconds every minute when it is anchored in open water?

Thanks to Ordinary Seaman Megan Guberski for helping me to pose and answer some of these questions.

Jeff Lawrence, May 29, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 29, 2006

Laurel Jennings & Tonya Watson Nick Gianoutsos
Laurel Jennings & Tonya Watson

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Wind direction: 290 deg. (WNW)
Wind Speed:  calm
Sea level pressure: 1016
Present weather: scattered to mostly cloudy skies, calm winds
Temperature: 48 de. wet/dry 50 deg.

Science and Technology Log 

Today I visited the plot room.  It is always a busy place.  After the data has come in from the launch boats which have run the lines they were assigned for that day, the data is then downloaded to computers for processing so that accurate navigation charts can be made.  Nick Gianoutsos and Shawn Gonzales both showed me how they clean up the data so it can be processed to make charts of the bottom of the channels, narrows, and waterways used by navigators throughout Alaska. The final product must both be accurate and reliable so that ships can trust the charts they are reading and using to plot navigation points and travel safely through hazardous coastal areas.

 Nick Gianoutsos
Nick Gianoutsos

Wrangell Narrows is where the data has been being collected from for the past couple of weeks. Wrangell Narrows extends almost 21 miles from the Sumner Strait to the south up to Frederick Sound to the north, near Petersburg, Alaska.  The channel is very narrow in places, with dangerous ledges and strong tidal currents, and can be a treacherous waterway for larger boats if not marked and navigated properly.  Cruise ships, Alaska State Ferries, tugs and barges, freight boats, pleasure boats, and commercial fishing boats navigate the channel. Some of the cargo that travels through the Narrows includes: lumber products, fish products, petroleum products, provisions, and general cargo.  There are no roads to Petersburg, so everything has to come by boat or plane. The narrows can be a busy place for traffic in this area of Alaska.  All known dangers in the Narrows are charted and most are marked.  The mean range of the tide is 13.4 feet and diurnal range is 15.7 feet at Petersburg.

Shawn Gonzales & Nick Gianoutsos
Shawn Gonzales & Nick Gianoutsos

Members of the crew aboard the NOAA ship RAINIER are entering and analyzing data from the survey lines run from the launch boats during the day.  This data will give an accurate indication of what lies below the water and also what lies above it.  The crew aboard RAINIER keeps working, long after regular work hours are over. Crunching the numbers from a launch into useable data for charts for navigation.  

Personal Log 

Today I was privileged to see a part of Alaska, Biorka Island, which is northwest of where we were near Petersburg in the Wrangell Narrows.  The change of scenery was exciting and nearby are hot springs which are very warm and relaxing according to some of the crew who spent time there after hours.

Question of the Day 

Using the information from log #4, which was Thursday’s log, how long will it take a ship that travels at 15 knots per hour to transit 231 miles?

Chief Survey Technician: Jim Jacobson
Chief Survey Technician: Jim Jacobson

Jeff Lawrence, May 28, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 28, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: 7.0 miles
Wind direction: 210 deg.  SSW
Wind Speed:  8 knots
Sea level pressure: 1006 mb
Present weather: overcast with light rain
Temperature:  48 deg. wet/dry 48 deg.

Mt. Edgecumbe Volcano near Biorka Island
Mt. Edgecumbe Volcano near Biorka Island

Science and Technology Log 

Today is the first full day at Biorka Island, the ship anchored here yesterday afternoon.  In the background is Mt. Edgecumbe a volcano on Kruzof Island.  On the journey from the Wrangell Narrows we encountered some small swells but overall a smooth trip. It takes many parts to make a whole when it comes to keeping a ship the size of RAINIER running.  Engineers and Stewards are the people aboard RAINIER who keep the ship moving.  The engineers work about the ship fixing any problems that arise, do general maintenance, and keep the RAINIER in ship shape condition.  There are 4 stewards aboard the RAINIER and have the most important job, which is feeding the crew of the RAINIER. To keep up moral on a ship it is important to feed the crew quality meals that satisfy their appetites after a busy day at sea.  The stewards aboard the Rainier are:

  • Chief Steward: Sergio Taguba
  • Chief Cook: Doretha Mackey
  • 2nd Cook: Floyd Pounds
  • 2nd Cook: Raul Quiros

The same day I flew into Petersburg and boarded RAINIER Milton Ellison from Michigan arrived to begin his new job as a general vessel assistant (GVA).  He has spent 8 years in the Navy and several more years in the civilian workforce. Milton has signed on to finish up retirement with NOAA.  There are ten crews members aboard the RAINIER that make up Electronics and Engineering departments.  NOAA provides many opportunities for those eager to experience new adventures.

The stewards always have a good variety of delicious food.
The stewards always have a good variety of delicious food.

Personal Log 

Crew member GVA Milton Ellison doing  ship maintenance on the RAINIER.
GVA Milton Ellison doing ship maintenance

We are anchored in Hot Springs Bay, another beautiful view of the Alaskan coastline. Mt. Edgecumbe is in the distant background giving spectacular panoramic views of the area. The crew was able to visit the hot springs in the area last night.  Today we will run lines around Biorka Island in the launch boats.

Questions of the Day 

What is the name of the large volcano on an Island just to the northwest of Biorka Island near Sitka? Is the volcano active or dormant? How high is the volcano in elevation (ft.)? What is the latitude and longitude of this volcano? What is the highest peak volcano in Washington State? How high is it? What ship in the NOAA fleet is named after it?

Jeff Lawrence, May 27, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 27, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: Fog 0.0 miles
Wind direction: 310 deg. NW
Wind Speed:  8 knots
Sea level pressure: 1011 mb
Present weather: Very foggy with small swells
Temperature:  46 deg. wet/dry 46 deg.

Launch boat in action in Wrangell Narrows
Launch boat in action in Wrangell Narrows

Science and Technology Log 

Yesterday I was invited out on a boat launch with LTJG Abigail Higgins, Junior Survey Tech Tonya Watson, and Deck Utility Man Kenneth Keys.  We were sent out to set a couple of buoys to mark locations where divers from the RAINIER could go down later in the day and take a closer look at some peculiar features from the sonar soundings.  We also had to run a couple of survey lines around an object near Petersburg Harbor on something peculiar Captain Guy Noll had spotted in the sonar record.  I was able to pilot the launch for part of the trip and DU Keys gave me a quick course on navigation around marked points in the Wrangell Narrows.  This was really cool!  LTJG Higgins showed me how the boat collects data to take back to the RAINIER where it is processed to be used on navigation charts.

When on a boat launch you may have to take lunch with you because you will not be back to the RAINIER in time for lunch. The skies were clear and full of intense Alaskan sunshine, which makes it feel warmer than the actual temperature outside. It was a beautiful day enjoyed even the more by having lunch on the boat. When the launch boat returns to the RAINIER the data is downloaded to the ships computers where it is processed so that charts and graphs can be made or updated. Below physical scientist Shyla Allen from the Pacific Hydrographic Branch assist ENS Laurel Jennings in making plans for running lines at the next stop near Sitka. ENS Jennings is in her first year on the RAINIER and a part of the NOAA officer corps aboard the RAINIER.

Crunching the numbers are: Shyla Allen (back) and ENS Laurel Jennings (front)
Crunching the numbers are: Shyla Allen (back) and ENS Laurel Jennings

Personal Log 

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in SE Alaska.  I really enjoyed working with the survey technicians and people aboard the RAINIER.  I have learned much more than I thought ever existed when comes to navigating the waters, coastlines, and harbors of Alaska. Today we are traveling to Biorka Island, which is northwest of where we were the previous week.

Questions of the Day 

When approaching a green buoy from sea in a channel in North America which side should your boat approach on?

When approaching a red buoy from sea in a channel in North America which side should your boat approach on?

Assignment 

Plot a course if you were the pilot of the RAINIER that you would follow from Wrangell Narrows near Petersburg to Biorka Island.

Jeff Lawrence, May 26, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 26, 2006

several of the deck crewmembers recovering RA 1 back to the RAINIER for the day.
several of the deck crewmembers recovering RA 1 back to the RAINIER for the day.

Weather Data from Bridge
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Wind direction: 70 degrees ENE
Wind Speed:  3 knots
Sea level pressure: 1016 mb
Present weather: overcast 1400’ clouds above ground
Temperature:  50 deg. wet/dry 52 deg.

Science and Technology Log 

Today the ship will raise anchor and head for Biorka Island.  First the crew will have to secure the temporary tide station equipment and make sure all the lines have been completed for the Wrangell Narrows.  While onboard I have had the chance to meet all of the crew of the RAINIER. The Chief Boatswain is Steve Foye and he has been a part of NOAA for 20 years now. He has served on many ships and is now on the RAINIER.  His duties include making sure all boat launches are conducted in a timely and safe manner.  When boats finish their day Steve and his crew are responsible for getting the boats back onboard the RAINIER for the night.  They also make sure the boats are fueled and ready for the next days work. Without Steve and the other deck hands little would get accomplished throughout the day. Steve is chief of the deck and is helped by

  • Able Bodied Seamen: Leslie Abramson, Jodie Edmond, and Jonathan Anderson
  • Ordinary Seamen: Dennis Brooks and Megan Guberski
  • General Vessel Assistant: Kelson Baird
  • Deck Utility Man: Kenneth Keys
  • Seaman Surveyors: Carl Verplank and Corey Muzzey
  • Boatswain Group Leader: Erik Davis
Steve Foye, Chief of the Deck Crew and admirer of nature!
Steve Foye, Chief of the Deck Crew and admirer of nature!

As you can tell it takes a lot of people working together to make sure the RAINIER gets boats in and out of the water, to their destinations, and ready for the next day.  The crew aboard the RAINIER are very skilled in what they do. Steve is also very interested in the local wildlife, marine mammals, and fauna of the Alaskan coastline.  He has had many years of experience in identifying the wildlife of this area. Anytime there happens to be wildlife near the ship, Steve is quick to tell me about it so that I can photograph the animals.  Chief Foye has a wealth of documents from the Alaskan Wildlife and Fisheries Department that help to identify the varying wildlife in the area. While onboard the RAINIER I have had the opportunity to view three Northern Sea Lions, two Alaskan Black Bears, numerous Sitka Black-Tailed Deer, a Dall’s Porpoise, many species of ducks and other birds, including the American Bald Eagle. I’ve only been aboard for 5 days and have taken numerous photos of local wildlife that I can share when with students when I return to Oklahoma.  Chief Foye has sat down with me to help me identify all the wildlife I’ve seen so far and pointed out some that he still expects to see on our way to Biorka Island.

Tomorrow we leave for Biorka Island and I am told that there is a good chance we will spot various species of porpoises and maybe a few whales. We should arrive at Biorka Island sometime Saturday afternoon where the crew will begin readying their plans for running lines of that area.

Personal Log 

Today I roamed through the ship talking to people aboard the RAINIER with various jobs. I learned many specifics about each of the crew and their responsibilities and also learned a little about them personally. The RAINIER has a good mix of people who seem to work well together.  All the crew’s members have treated me very well and I am enjoying my time aboard the RAINIER.

Questions of the Day 

Can you name 10 marine mammals that can found in Alaskan waters sometime throughout the year?

Can you name land mammals that can found in Alaska?

Can you name 10 bird species that live or migrate to Alaska?

Jeff Lawrence, May 25, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 25, 2006

Photo of ENS Nathan Eldridge logging weather data from the  RAINIER to be sent into NOAA for weather analysis of the area.
ENS Nathan Eldridge logging weather data to be sent to NOAA for analysis of the area.

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours 
Visibility: 10.0 miles/16.1 Km
Wind direction: calm/no wind
Wind Speed:  calm
Sea level pressure: 1015 mb or 29.97 inches
Present weather: scattered cirrocumulus clouds, lots of sun
Temperature:  48 deg. wet/50 deg. dry

Science and Technology Log 

After completing breakfast I spent the rest of the morning on board the RAINIER and visited with the crew on some of their duties on the ship.  At 1000 hours I had a briefing on the bridge with Nathan Eldridge on how the RAINIER collects weather data every six hours that it then sends to NOAA so that, the data can be used by meteorologists for weather observations and predictions. Nathan has been aboard the RAINIER since Nov. of 2005, so this is his first full season at sea.  Nathan is an ensign signified by the acronym ENS.  He attended the NOAA Corp’s program for officer training before coming aboard the RAINIER.

ENS Sam Greenaway explains navigational charts.  Navigation is crucial to the ships success through the  Alaskan waterways.
ENS Sam Greenaway explains navigational charts. Navigation is crucial to the ships through the Alaskan waterways.

ENS Sam Greenaway has been aboard the RAINIER since Nov. of 2004.  Sam is the ships navigation officer and plots paths through the Alaskan waterways.  There are many things to read on a navigational chart, a good understanding of the charts allows Sam to plot a safe and direct path to the location at which the RAINIER will anchor next.  The ship will be leaving Wrangell Narrows for the Biorka Islands in the next day or so.

Personal Log 

Last evening I was invited by the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson to go kayaking in the Wrangell Narrows just before dusk.  The water was calm and the sun was slowly disappearing behind the snow-capped mountains.  The trip was very tranquil and serene. I enjoyed the experience immensely.  The crew aboard the RAINIER are very helpful and assist me in any way they can to make my stay as enjoyable and productive as possible. 

Questions of the Day 

What is the Beaufort scale and how is it used? What is the difference between a nautical mile and a statute mile? What is the difference in speed between miles per hour and knots per hour? What is the length of a fathom?

Kayaking excursion enjoyed after hours by some of RAINIER’S crew.  In photo are the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson.  Photo was taken by TAS Jeff Lawrence on the evening of May 24th in the Wrangell Narrows off the Alaskan coastline.
Kayaking excursion enjoyed after hours by some of RAINIER’S crew. In photo are the XO, Julia Neander and AB Leslie Abramson. Photo was taken by TAS Jeff Lawrence in the Wrangell Narrows

Jeff Lawrence, May 24, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 24, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge as of 0730 Hours: 
Visibility: 0.5 miles or 0.8 km
Wind direction: 260 degrees
Wind Speed:  5 knots
Sea level pressure: 1016 mb or 30.0 inches
Present weather: mostly cloudy but clearing off earlier this morning
Temperature:  47 deg. wet/48 deg. dry ***By the afternoon the weather was sunny with calm winds and beautiful scenery.

Science and Technology Log 

I began the day as usual with breakfast in the mess hall at 0700 hours.  I must say the staff aboard the RAINIER know how to make a person gain weight.  The food choices are great and there is plenty to eat.  I was assigned to work off RA 8 with a survey crew.  We left the ship at 0800 hours after a short briefing on the fantail of the RAINIER.

The RA 8 crew’s task for the day was to survey the area around the tide station to make sure the tidal data collected that shows the rise and fall of the tides was accurate.  Deck Utility man, Kenneth Keys, and General Vessel Assistant, Kelson Baird, piloted the boat to the destination and delivered the survey crew onshore with great care. The survey crew was managed by ENS Jamie Wasser, ENS Nathan Eldridge, Assistant Survey Technician Tom Hardy, and myself.  Using benchmarks that had been set by the National Ocean Service, we completed a triangulation survey of the dock where the tide station was located at high tide. Surveying is tool used by NOAA to make sure objects are where they are supposed to be according to charts and maps.  The crew of NOAA ship RAINIER surveys sites as they set up a tide station and before they disassemble it to move it to another site.

Upon completion of the tasks we returned to the ship while Kenneth Keys trained General Assistant Baird on proper docking procedures of the launch boat.  Everyone aboard the ship must work in unison to ensure a successful launch is carried out so that critical data can be collected, disseminated, and analyzed later aboard the RAINIER.  Quality charts and maps can then be generated for use by navigators of the shorelines of Alaska.

Personal Log 

Today I learned how critical it is for the people aboard the RAINIER to collect quality data to ensure the results are accurate on the finish product.  It is a better use of time for each group to take their time and do it right the first time as opposed to having to redo the same task a second time.  I hadn’t realized navigation of the ocean’s waterways was such a precise event and required such precise data collection methods.  This is a good lesson to introduce to students on the collection of scientific data.  Teachers must emphasize that the work can be tedious at times and that accuracy of data is the outcome that the scientist must strive to attain.

Question of the Day 

What is the type of data that scientist collect that can be represented by numbers?

Jeff Lawrence, May 23, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 23, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge

Visibility: 5 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 90 degrees
Wind Speed: 15 knots (kts)
Sea level pressure: 1001 millibars (mb)
Present weather: Partly cloudy
Temperature:  51 degrees dry/ 50 degrees wet

Science and Technology Log 

I began today by getting aboard RA #8 for boat launch operations in the Wrangell Narrows at 0800. The crew went to check a tide gauge that had been placed on a pier in the narrows six weeks ago. A data logger was attached by assistant survey technician, Matt Boles, to a laptop computer and the data for the past two weeks was downloaded onto the laptop. The tide gauges give a more accurate representation of what the tide is doing in a certain area. Tide gauges are positioned throughout the narrows but may be miles apart.  To get more precise data of the narrows, temporary gauges are used when the RAINIER is mapping areas where boating occurs.  Also, a horizontal GPS position was measured from a known GPS location to make sure the tidewater data was correct and reliable.

At 0930 hours we returned to the RAINIER to pick up operations officer LT Ben Evans who showed ENS Laurel Jennings how to use the Trimble Backpack to map piers and dock areas in the narrows. The Trimble Backpack is a GPS system that is carried on the back of a person. As they walk the perimeter of an area, it downloads data onto a logger that then can be downloaded to a computer later for data analysis.  This gives precise information to the cartographer to place the pier in the exact location that it needs to be on the map.

Upon returning to the RAINIER at 1530 hours we had several emergency drills including fire and abandon ship. The drills were interesting to watch as everyone went to their designated location for muster and directions on what to do next.  A ship’s personnel must always be prepared for an emergency.  Your shipmates may be the only help you will receive in an emergency.  Drills are conducted on a routine basis so that the crew stays sharp and ready in case of a real emergency.  The crew of the NOAA ship RAINIER is well-trained and prepared in the case they may have to use their training to get control of the ship in an emergency.  Several members on board have specialized training that allow them to take the lead in case of a ship emergency.

Personal Log 

Throughout the day I learned many new facets of global positioning and how it is used to make more accurate maps that can be used by boaters, ships, and people who live in the area. Collecting science data for NOAA maps is a slow, yet precise method that can take many weeks to get an accurate map that can be relied upon by mariners.  The fire emergency and abandon ship drill was done with precision and professionalism. I am sure I am in good hands in case of an emergency aboard the RAINIER.

Question of the Day 

The mapping of the characteristics of oceans, lakes, and rivers is known as___________.

Jeff Lawrence, May 22, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jeff Lawrence
Onboard NOAA Ship Rainier
May 22 – June 2, 2006

Mission: Hydrography survey
Geographical area of cruise: Alaska
Date: May 22, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

Today the NOAA ship RAINIER was set to leave port with a brief refueling stop before anchoring later in the afternoon. The RAINIER was tied to port alongside her sister ship, the FAIRWEATHER, during a brief liberty at Petersburg, Alaska.  I began my day at 0700 with breakfast in the mess hall followed by a visit to the briefing room at 0800 hours on the next two-week duty schedule of the RAINIER.  I was joined by another civilian from the local NPR radio station who was onboard to do an interview on the mission of the RAINIER in the Wrangell Narrows, which runs parallel to Petersburg.  The radio interviewer, Emily Schwing, asked many questions about how the sonar system works and how often the RAINIER would be back to check if the currents in the Wrangell Narrows had changed the channel.  She learned that the system of sonar mapping used today is much more efficient than the beamed sonar used in past years.  Side-scan and multi-beam sonar are now employed to map the bottom of the shipping channels, narrows, and ports.  The RAINIER mapped an area recently in a few weeks that took 19 years to map under the old system.

At 0945 the RAINIER left port for a short jaunt of about 400 yards for refueling.  The fueling process on a large ship such as the RAINIER is not a quick-stop process, which many people are accustomed to while fueling their vehicles. The RAINIER took on 22,000 gallons of fuel. This process lasted over three hours due to the slow pumping, which pumped out about 150 gallons per minute.  That seemed quite fast to me, but Captain Guy Noll explained that fuel could be pumped much faster for the larger ships. While refueling I received an overview from ENS Jennings of damage control onboard a ship and where to go in case of an emergency.

1) Fire emergency – Indicated by one long 10-second continuous blast of the ships horn.

2) Abandon Ship – Indicated with seven short blasts and one long blast.

3) Man Over Board – Indicated by three long blasts.

At 1330 Seaman Surveyor Eric Davis took the skiff (a small zodiac type boat) out into the narrows to check if repairs that had been made in port were adequate.  He asked me to join him and while in the narrows he pointed out the channel’s navigation buoys and explained how they are used to guide both small and large craft through the narrows, which become very shallow and dangerous during low tide.  Upon returning to the RAINIER refueling was just about complete so all hands manned their stations to ready for departure from the fueling depot.  At 1530 we left port to travel down the narrows a few miles where we anchored for the night.  We will remain in anchor here for several days while the launch boats are sent out on daily runs to map more of the Wrangell Narrows.

Personal Log 

Throughout the day I found incredible opportunities for taking photos of wildlife including bald eagles, sea lions, and a variety of other birds.  Alaska has to be an ornithological paradise. The surrounding landscape offered an exquisite 360-degree panoramic view that allowed for spectacular photographs of the area.

Question of the Day 

What is the mean tide for Petersburg on this day using the data below?

Low tide was 4 feet at 2:33 am High tide was 13.5 feet at 8:10 am Low tide was 1.3 feet at 2:51 pm High tide was 14.5 feet at 9:14 pm

Kazu Kauinana, May 21, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 21, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  22, 34 N
Longitude: 163, 10.46 W
Visibility:  10NM
Wind direction:  070
Wind speed:  25Kts
Sea wave heights: 4-5
Sea swell heights: 7-10
Seawater temperature: 24.7 C
Sea level pressure: 1019.5
Cloud cover: 3/8 Atocumulus, cumulus

Personal Log 

As you could tell by the wave and swell heights, it has been ROUGH! The boat has been rocking like crazy. Things have been falling off of shelves, and if I didn’t have my sea legs, I would be spending most of my time in bed.  In fact, it is even difficult to do that. Anyway, you want to hear something funny? You know the sculpture I’ve been talking about?  Well I finished it today, but just as I was going to put it away because I had considered it PAU, the stool I was sitting on tipped over because of the rocking boat.  I turned around to pick up the stool and the sculpture slid off the table onto the floor and smashed the face like a pancake.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I went outside jumped over the rails and tried to drown myself.  No, I’m only kidding, I’m an adult.  I went to the mess hall, got something to eat, and then watched a movie.

Kazu Kauinana, May 20, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 20, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  24, 12.5 N
Longitude: 166, 50.6 W
Visibility:  10 Nm
Wind direction:  95
Wind speed:  25 Kts
Sea wave height: 3-4
Sea swell height:  5-7
Seawater temperature: 25.0
Sea level pressure: 1022.2
Cloud cover: 1/8 cumulus, cirrus

Science and Technology Log 

This morning I spoke with the Lead Electrical Technician John Skinner.  He has been following the progress of the bust I am creating of Lead scientist, Chad Yoshinaga.  He told me that he liked the sculpture and that it has been great having an art teacher at sea this time around.  Apparently I am the first, and the perspective I have given has been interesting and different from the science teachers.

He is also the computer guy for the ship and he spends his spare time taking digital photos and putting together slide shows.  Anyway, he asked me if I would like to see it, and of course I said yes. It was awesome!  It was pictures that he and others had taken on many of the various trips out to the Hawaiian Archipelago.  It includes pictures of the voyage I am on, only much better.  He gave me a copy and I can’t wait to show you guys this DVD. It will blow you away! He also told me about a book called Archipelago that has fantastic photos of these atolls.

The rest of the day I worked on my sculpture and watched the fishermen.  They caught Bull Dorado (mahi-mahi), Ahi and Uku.  BeegBahgahs!!!

Kazu Kauinana, May 19, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 19, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  25, 55.0 N
Longitude: 170, 58.5 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  115
Wind Speed:  115Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-5
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.6 C
Sea level pressure: 1019.4
Cloud cover: 2/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we had a fire drill, followed by an abandon ship drill.  Both were executed well.

All of our island adventures are over and we are on our way back home.  We should arrive either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Kazu Kauinana, May 18, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 18, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  27, 02.0 N
Longitude: 173, 54.3 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  160
Wind speed:  16 Kts
Sea wave heights: 3-4
Sea swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 23.1
Sea level pressure: 1019
Cloud cover: 8/8 cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we are off loading three scientists and their gear onto Southeast Island in Pearl and Hermes Atoll.  “The atoll derives its name from those of two English whaling vessels, the ‘Pearl’ and the ‘Hermes,’ which ran aground at nearly the same time on the then unknown reef during the night of 25 April 1822. No lives were lost and provisions and timber were salvaged and used to sustain the crews for two months during which they built a schooner from the salvaged timbers.  Shortly before the crews were ready to launch their new schooner, named the ‘Deliverance,’ another ship—the ‘Thames’—was saved from disaster on the reef.  Captain Phillips of the ‘Hermes’ was able to warn her  captain in time.  While most of the two crews were safely taken off the reef by the ‘Thames,’ 12 elected to sail the ‘Deliverance’ into Honolulu” (Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society Library, Missionary Letters; Bryan, 1942: 197).

All of these atolls are filled with a history of shipwrecks and survivors who salvaged their food supplies, water, tools, and building materials from their grounded ships; lived on these tiny uninhabited islands for as long as six months; and built a boat and sailed back to the high islands. I just spent two days helping unload provisions for seven people to last six months on the island of Kure.  If you’ve never really looked at a map and seen just how isolated these atolls are, do it, and you may be surprised.

And just what were all these sailors doing up around these parts?  Well here’s a good example:

“During the off season of sea otter hunting, the Japanese schooner ‘Ada’ was chartered by an American, George Mansfield, and his friends.  They sailed from Yokohama, Japan, on 10 December 1881, bound first for the Bonin Islands and thence to the Northwestern Hawaiians hoping for a cargo of fish, shark, turtle and beche-de-mer.  On 19 January 1882 the ‘Ada’, commanded by Harry Hardy, anchored off Pearl and Hermes Reef and in the next two days her crew of 17 killed 28 turtles and collected 54 beche-de-mer and 43 pounds of albatross down.  The down was obtained by killing the chicks, dipping them in boiling water, and then stripping off the feathers; petrels, boobies, and frigates were treated in like fashion. The ‘Ada’ visited the remaining islands down to French Frigate Shoals and stopped a second time at Midway in May 1882 to reprovision before returning to Japan” (Hornell, 1934: 426-432).

Yes, I eat fish and chicken, and I even owned a down jacket when I lived in New York City.  I guess I’ve got to be more careful about where these products are coming from and not support the depletion of an entire species.  Ironically, the species that may be on its way to extinction is us. We really should be paying close attention to what scientists are telling us about what is happening to the planet and all the life that lives on it. We have really made a mess of things, but with education and awareness, there still might be hope for our grandchildren, our children, and, believe it or not, us. We are already being affected by our destructive actions. There is a great article in the April 3, 2006 issue of Time magazine about “global warming,” and evidence that the earth is now at the TIPPING POINT! READ IT!! Am I making you worried? Good. The article is called “Be Worried.  Be Very Worried.”

Kazu Kauinana, May 16, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 16, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  28, 23.9 N
Longitude: 178, 25.0 W
Visibility:  10 NM
Sea wave heights: 2-3
Sea swell heights: 3-4
Seawater temperature: 24.0 C
Sea level Pressure:  1/8 Cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we began to off load gear and seven personnel onto Green Island, the main island of Kure Atoll, as well as the farthest west and last island in the Hawaiian chain.  This island did not experience any bird poaching or guano mining, but in 1960 it became a United States Coast Guard LORAN (long-range navigation) station.  The major features of the station were a barracks, a signal/power building, a transmitter building, a pump house, seven fuel tanks, a 4,000-foot-long runway and a 625-foot-high LORAN tower.  The only features remaining are parts of the barracks and the runway, which is unused and disintegrating. There is also a small pier that is being used by the researchers.  It is now a wildlife refuge under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii Fish and Game Department.

The island is heavily vegetated with not only shrubs, grasses, and crawling vines, but also several kinds of trees. Verbesina is now growing out of control and a landscaper is a part of this crew to eradicate this invasive species.  It grows so thick that it does not allow ground nesting birds like the Blue Faced Booby to utilize them.  It also poisons the ground so that other plants cannot grow where they have established themselves.

I should mention that this is not a quarantine island like Laysan, Lisianski, and Pearl/Hermes.  Too many invasive species had been brought in with the development of the station to warrant that designation.  One of the invaders is a crawling weed with half-inch thorns and easily goes right through your slippers.  When the women opened the barracks to check it out, it was filled with cane spiders on the walls and ceiling; and the floor was covered with a carpet of dead ants that the spiders had eaten.  There are also rats and at one time there was a dog, left there by a rescued shipwrecked crew.  However, it was eaten by a crew that was shipwrecked later on.  The atoll is notorious for shipwrecks.

I saw turtles and seals too.  In fact, I had to get out of the water several times because the seals would swim towards me to see what I was doing there.  We always had to steer clear of all the animals so as not to disturb them or have them become familiar with humans.

Green island is located on the inner side of a large ring of reef.  Within this reef, it is relatively shallow and outside the ring it is very deep; rough water on the ocean side and calm on the lagoon side; and sloping fine sand beaches on the inside and course and rugged on the ocean side.  The camp and pier are on the lagoon side of the island.

Most of the day I was a “mule,” carrying six months worth of supplies from the shuttling Zodiac to the spider’s nest (the barracks). Lots of thorns, soft fine sand, hot sun, but no ticks.

At the end of the day I was rewarded by being allowed to visit the “AHU” (alter or shrine) that the crew from the Hawaiian sailing vessel, The Hokulea, had built on a recent visit to this island.  It is located in a spectacular site on the wild ocean side of the island just up in a safe spot from the water’s edge.  It is comprised of several large coral heads comfortably arranged with a Hawaiian adze placed in the middle, inscribed with the title “NAVIGATING CHANGE.”  I was deeply moved!

Kazu Kauinana, May 15, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 15, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  28, 06.7 N
Longitude: 177, 21.3 W
Visibility: 10 Nm
Wind direction: 095
Wind speed: 17 kts
Sea wave heights: 2-3
Sea swell heights: 5-6
Seawater temperature: 23.2 C
Sea level pressure: 1027.2 Cloud cover: 3/8 Cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today we hit Midway Atoll, the largest island we’ve visited so far.  It is covered with tall Ironwood trees and has been well developed by the military.  A large airstrip and an enclosed harbor can be seen on the approach.  We docked at one of the two piers on the northeast side of the island.  Midway is no longer a military base.  It has been turned into a wildlife refuge. The park rangers came over to the boat and gave a briefing and rules of the island. I went for a walk on my own and did not see the Laysan duck because I did not have a guide to the restricted refuge area.  Forty-three ducks from Laysan island were brought here one year ago and 40 have survived.  They have also produced ducklings  so the project is considered to be going well.

I did have a great time just moseying around taking pictures of odd and interesting man-made curiosities.  There was a 12-foot gooney bird between two super huge canons in front of the bowling alley and mall.  Everything had a ghost town sort of look, and there were birds everywhere as usual, but no people.  I made my way to the famous seaplane hanger to get a picture of its bullet-riddled side, but the side had been removed.  In another hanger I found the Midway Military Museum.  It had been the airport arrival and departure area. There were two bombs at the gateway, one 6 feet and the other 20 feet.  There were great paintings of aircraft, some in battle scenes.  Everything was from the 1940s and being alone there kind of creeped me out.  TWILIGHT ZONE.

I made my way to North Beach next to where we docked the ship.  This beach is rated as one of the best four beaches in the world and it lives up to it.  It’s about two miles long and the sand is blinding-white coral. The water is crystal clear and 3-5 feet deep for about a quarter mile out to sea.  You can easily see the abundant fish swimming fearlessly by you, and any Tiger shark approach would give you fair warning.  Even the sand is great because it is made of crushed coral and it stays cool.  It is not silica sand.  I was told that the fishing is great here, but it is catch and release because of sanitaria.

Personal Log 

That evening the OSCAR SETTE had a great barbecue and the whole town was invited.  I think there are only about 30 permanent residents.  It is interesting that most of the help is from Thailand.  I met a Thai artist who does sand-blasted glass illustrations.  I showed him the bust of Chad Yoshinaga that I was doing and then he took me up to his home and showed me his artwork.  I was very impressed with his wildlife and Buddhist images.  He said he just does it to pass the time.

We spent the night at Midway and left at 7 a.m.

Kazu Kauinana, May 14, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 14, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  26, 31.9W
Longitude: 174.57.4W
Wind direction:  100
Wind speed:  22 kts
Sea wave heights: 4’
Sea swell heights: 5-7
Seawater temperature: 24.9c
Sea level water pressure: 1024.
Cloud cover: 3/8, cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today I went out to Lisianski (formerly Lisiansky) Island with the supply coordinator and met scientist Jean Higgins and her assistant.  Jean and her assistant, Veronica Decamp, are the only two on the island. There are noticeable differences between Laysan and Lisianski.  Lisianski has fine white sand beaches surrounding the entire island as well as in the interior.  It does not have a lake in the middle like Laysan.  Rather, this sandy island is thickly covered with shrubs.  It appears to be more pristine than Laysan but it shares some of the same human profiteering and devastating environmental history with Laysan.  Lisianski is an atoll whose center crater became filled with fine coral and sand, whereas the Laysan crater filled only partially with debris and then was topped off with water (presently high saline and brine). There are no coconut trees left; eighty had been planted in 1844, but the only trees I saw were Casuarinas dotting the islands here and there.  There was a lot of scaevolas and bunch grass, Ipomoea, Boerhavia, Laysanicum, Solanum nigrum, Sicyos, and Tribulus.

The shoreline and water clarity of Lisianski also differ significantly from Laysan.  There is a steep drop off 3-5 feet deep, and 6-10 feet from where the water laps up onto the sand. This in conjunction with dense, murky water (probably due to the very fine coral sand) makes swimming, bathing or snorkeling, a bad idea.  I witnessed numerous Green sea turtles and Monk seals swimming just a few feet from where I stood on the beach.  A few of the turtles were missing fins or had teeth marks on their carapace from sharks, probably Tiger sharks, that have been seen chasing them.

Something I did not mention about a commonality to all the islands thus far is the littering of dead animals scattered throughout the island.  These are not like beaches on the occupied high islands where there are much fewer animals and scheduled city and county beach machine clean-up crews.  Nature takes its course here and the living pass with dignity.

Lisianski suffered similar environmental disasters as Laysan except for guano mining.  It did, however, go through a period in the early 1900s of Japanese plumage plundering.  Like those words, “Plumage Plundering”?  It means that at least 1.25 million birds were killed on the islands for their feathers. A businessman by the name of Max Schlemmer, who was an agent for the Pacific Guano and Fertilizer Company in 1908, entered into an invalid feather-harvesting-rights contract with Genkichi Yamanouichi of Japan.  This contract also included Laysan. It is estimated that 284,000 birds were killed on Lisianski and close to a million on Laysan.  These are two islands where the birds were so thick on the ground that it was difficult to walk without stepping on them, and with every step, you would sink waist deep into the ground because of the collapsing nest burrows.

In 1910, shortly after the feather poaching was stopped, rabbits were introduced to Lisianski and Laysan. The U.S. Revenue Cutter Thetis made a trip to Lisianski in 1914 and this is a report by Carl Elschner from that visit:

“At the time of my visit, there were two houses on the island which, as well as the phosphate deposits, lay in the former lagoon.  That is, in a depression, which, however, does not contain water any more.  Surrounding the houses are small patches of tobacco, which grow wild, having been brought by Captain Schlemmer.  This is in fact the only vegetation on the island, and there hardly is a blade or stalk of any other plant to be seen with the exception of perhaps two poorly looking specimens of Ipomea, which I saw…  The rabbits introduced have just exterminated the flora…now the rest of these rabbits (we found many dead but very few living ones) will have to submit to starvation.”  (Elschner, 1915: 56)

It is important to note that the island is back to a healthy level due to the efforts of conservationists, scientists, monitoring by the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy, and expeditions such as the one I am on.

Kazu Kauinana, May 13, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 13, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  25, 33.1N
Longitude: 121:28.9W
Visibility:  10nm
Wind direction:  090
Wind speed:  19Kts
Sea wave height: 2-3
Sea swells height: 4-6
Sea water temperature: 24.8
Sea level temperature: 24.8
Sea level pressure: 1021.4
Cloud cover: 4/8, altocumulus, cumulostratus, cumulonimbus, cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

I left the OSCAR SETTE at 8:30 this morning on a Zodiac with cargo and a crew of five for Laysan Island. This island was not a military landing strip so it still looks like what you might imagine a desert island would look like.  It is really beautiful—nice sandy beaches, clear water with coral reefs, low shrubs and grasses, a patch of coconut trees and even a lake.

Sarah Luecke took us on a tour from the beach where we had landed to the hyper-saline lake in the northern, middle of the island.  As with all of the islands, you cannot explore without a guide. Shearwater noddys, Tristan’s petrels, and bonin petrels burrow into the ground to make their nests, and if you do not follow your guide carefully, there is a good chance that you could cave in their nests. We managed to cave in only two, and we had to re-dig the tunnels to make sure the birds could continue using them.  Birds are everywhere and they have no fear of humans. They behave like barnyard birds, so when you are walking you have to go around them, because they will not move.  When they get  irritated with you being too close they clack their beaks like plastic toy wind-up dentures.  The two breeds that are the most oblivious to human space are the large Laysan Albatross and the black-footed Albatross. The chicks are almost as large as the adults, covered with patches of downy molting fuzz, and are really goofy looking.  They plant themselves everywhere, especially on the paths, in front of tent doorways and chairs, and next to your belongings.

It was great to see so many birds, because at about the turn of the century the bird population had been decimated by the Japanese feather industry.  An American Guano contractor had subleased the right to taking wings, breasts, skins, and tons of feathers to the Japanese company.  This went on for at least a couple of years before it was stopped but, by then, the damage was done.  At least a million birds were killed and three out of the five endemic species became extinct.  Fortunately, most of the sea birds came back.

The bird population here had at one time been so dense that you could see the cloud of birds way before you ever saw the island. It was so thick that a guano industry was established here in the late 1800’s into the early 20th century.  The Japanese immigrant workers who worked for Haole American businessmen based on Oahu, had to use picks and axes to break up the caked up thick layers of it.

There had also been an attempt at rabbit farming by a family, but that didn’t work.  It did, however, destroy almost all of the vegetation on the island.  Through a lot of work and expense, the rabbits were eradicated and an intensive replanting program was established and is still active. In spite of all of these man-made disasters, the island today, looks like paradise.  So it did give me a lot of hope that we may still be able to maintain some of the few precious resources that we have left.

Personal Log 

We walked along the beach and saw monk seals in the water and on the beach.  We found a spot where it looked like it would be terrific snorkeling and it was.  After that, it was time to go back to the OSCAR SETTE.

Kazu Kauinana, May 12, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 12, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude: 25, 21.8N
Longitude: 170, 51.1 W
Visibility: 10 nm
Wind direction: 100
Wind speed: 17 kts
Sea wave height: 2-3
Swell wave height: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.8C
Sea level pressure: 1018.3
Cloud cover: 6/8 cumulus, altocumulus, cirrus, cirrocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

My shift on the cetacean watch began at 9:00 this morning.  I started with the Fujinan 25×150, four-mile range, light-gathering, “Big Eye” binoculars.  It was o.k. using the Big eyes looking straight ahead but looking through them at port or starboard was difficult because of the up and down rolling of the boat.  I would switch to smaller hand-held binoculars instead of the deck-mounted Big Eyes.  The water surface conditions were choppy so we did not see any whales, dolphins, or seals.  However, I did spot a yellow spherical shape floating by. We had been instructed that if we did see a mammal to draw exactly what we saw and not to copy the illustrations from the identification book.

I worked the mammal watch detail until 11:00 a.m. and then I went back to work on the clay portrait I am doing of Chad Yoshinaga, the lead scientist.  He is too busy to sit for me but I did manage to take some Polaroids and work from that.  I have to admit, I am proud that he is a local boy who not only made it as a scientist, but he is the lead scientist.  There aren’t very many kids from Hawaii who are in this field; in fact, we are greatly outnumbered by scientists from the continent.  Part of the reason is geography. Kids who study at the U. of Hawaii are getting exposure only to our limited wildlife, whereas the continent has a greater variety.  Beeg mahni fo go sku ova dea.  This will be my ho’okupu (gift) to Chad, the ship, the program, and the crew, who by the way, seem to be entertained by watching me work.

Personal Log 

The ship’s fishermen caught four Ono today.  Each was about four feet long. This was the first catch on the entire trip so far probably due to our passing over a seamount only 600′ deep.  Tomorrow will be better fishing because we will be approaching Laysan Island. I am scheduled to go ashore with the scientists.

Kazu Kauinana, May 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 11, 2006

Weather
Latitude:  24, 01.0 N
Longitude: 167, 10.3
Visibility:  10 NM
Wind direction:  090
Wind speed:  20 KTS
Sea wave heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.8 C
Sea level pressure: 18:18
Cloud cover: 2/8 cumulus, altocumulus

Science & Technology Log

I did not get a good night’s sleep last night so I woke up at 6:30 a.m. instead of my usual 4:30. I attended an 8:00 a.m. briefing this morning for all those who were scheduled to leave for Tern Island in the French Frigate Shoals.  I departed early at 9:00 AM in a Zodiac with two crewmen who were delivering cargo to the island.  You could see the island in the distance when we started out but we encountered a squall and lost visibility of everything.  The pilot was familiar with the reefs and the island, and when the rain cleared, we were still on the right path.

As we approached Tern Island the thousands of birds that inhabit the World War II landing strip became increasingly  clearer and the raucous squawking grew louder and louder until it was almost deafening.  It was HITCHCOKISH!  In fact, the bird sounds from Tern Island were used in the movie “The Birds”.  We were greeted by two women (Most of the volunteers and scientists on this trip, and I think in general, are women) who helped us dock and unload the boat. I spent most of my time on the island at the dock unloading shuttle loads from the OSCAR SETTE.

An airplane was scheduled to arrive so I watched the staff clear the runway of all the baby Albatross from the airstrip.  They were about 4 months old, molting, the size of a small turkey, and like the rest of the bird population, fearless of humans.  They picked them up and handled them like human babies and carried them off to the side of the runway. Bicycles with handlebar baskets were also used for the ones further down the strip. The plane arrived and the sky became peppered with adult birds.  No birds were killed. This is pretty good considering that there are so many birds that you have to be careful not to step on any while walking. The birds do prefer to nest off the hot run way but the chicks wander out there and bask. If you do happen to disturb a nesting bird off of its nest, usually by running or nearly stepping on them, you have to stop and monitor the nest until the nesting bird returns. This is to prevent other birds from pecking holes in the eggs, killing the chicks or stealing nest-building materials. Sahm tarabo yeah?

I wasn’t allowed to leave the pier without a guide so I went back to watch for the next cargo delivery and stared into the crystal clear water.  I noticed a fish headed straight for me and as it got larger and larger, I realized that it was a three-foot long ulua.  It turned parallel to the edge of the pier, tilted his body at an angle so it could see me better then slowly swam off. It returned two more times and had a good look at me before swimming off to write his friends about what he just saw.  I was told later that they are very abundant and that they hang around you when you go snorkeling.  They must know that like the rest of the reef fish they cannot be eaten because of Sagittaria plants.  From the pier, I also saw two large Green Sea Turtles wrestling or mating.  Hard to tell since I couldn’t see their genitals.

After about two hours on the pier, a boatload of excited scientists from the SETTE arrived and we were led on a tour of the island.  Some of the most interesting facts I found out about Tern island are: their water catchment is a large concrete slab on the ground (too hot for birds nests and not used for drinking); drinking water is reverse osmosis from sea water; 10 people live on Tern; sea lion research is also done on the island (we saw three adult Hawaiian Monk Seals on the beach); when you go swimming go with someone else and look out for the SHARKS.

It’s 10:30 p.m., I am exhausted, hele au moe moe.

Kazu Kauinana, May 10, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 10, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude: 23-28.0 N
Longitude: 165-45.0 N
Visibility: 10 nm
Wind direction:  078
Wind speed: 22 kts
Sea wave heights: 2-3′
Swell wave heights: 5-6′
Seawater temperature: 25.2 c
Sea level pressure: 1020.6
Cloud cover: 1/8, altostratus, cumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Today was a repeat of the last two days: CTD sampling and cetacean watch or marine mammal search.  There were no sightings today because of the choppy water conditions until we got closer to the French Frigate Shoals.  As we approached the atoll the bird sightings increased and surface fish, like flying fish, became more abundant.  A large Mahi-mahi was seen swimming on the surface next to the boat and added to the rising excitement.  No land could be seen, but rolling surf over shallow reefs appeared and beautiful turquoise blue streaks interrupted the dark blueness of the ocean.  We looked through the “Big Eye” binoculars at a line of surf surrounding what looked to be a sliver of sand and sure enough, it was a sand spit, and there were three Hawaiian Monk Seals basking in the sun. We were exhilarated!

We reached our destination for the day, which is in a protected area just south of the French Frigate Shoals.  We will spend the night here and tomorrow morning I will help transport the research team to Tern Island.  This will be our first drop off.  The researchers are excited and to top it off, it is almost a full moon.

We arrived at our destination a couple of hours before sunset so the ship maneuvered over a seamount where the depth was about 600 feet and the fishing crew did some bottom fishing.  They used Hydraulic fishing reels with a 1000-foot line capacity, 3 to 4 hooks per line, 8-pound lead weights, and squid for bait.  Very efficient!  They landed eight Onaga, the largest about 5lbs.

Personal Log 

I attended a meeting this morning for the Mammal Watch team.  An interesting issue was raised concerning the declining Hawaiian Monk Seal population, numbering now at only about 1000, and the relationship to shark predation.  For some unknown reason, male seals were killing pups and the carcasses were attracting sharks.  Sharks are now stalking new areas where pups are more vulnerable and may be affecting the population.  What species of sharks, how many, and what to do about them are questions that must be resolved. Enter in the Hawaiian Shark Aumakua cultural factor and the issue becomes even more complex.  Some Hawaiians believe that sharks are ancestral guardian spirits and should not be destroyed, but that may lead to the end of the seals.  And even if conservationists are allowed to kill sharks to protect the seals, the Question is “should we really be interfering in the balance of nature and would it work?”  I was surprised to hear that the seal population is reducing at an alarming rate; I thought it was increasing.  Anyway, these are just some more world problems to keep you up at night.

Kazu Kauinana, May 9, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Kazu Kauinana
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
May 9 – 23, 2006

Mission: Fisheries Survey
Geographical Area: Hawaiian Islands
Date: May 9, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Latitude:  22, 33.4n
Longitude: 162, 06.2W
Visibility:  10
Wind direction: 070
Wind speed: 21 kts.
Sea wave heights: 2-4
Swell heights: 4-6
Seawater temperature: 24.8
Sea level pressure: 1020.4
Cloud cover: 4/8 Cumulus, Altocumulus

Science and Technology Log 

Yesterday was primarily orientation and familiarizing myself with the ship, staff, and scientists.  It was so interesting to talk to the scientists and discover that the main motivation for their chosen profession was the same as that of artists: Passion!  Most of them had an early interest in animals or plants and were now fulfilling a life-long dream.  In spite of all of the sacrifices (money, family, material possessions) they love what they do and consider themselves lucky to be doing it.

Part of the day was spent on a cetacean watch, or marine mammal search, from the flying bridge. We used two Fujinan, 25×150, 4-mile range, light gathering, “Big-Eye” binoculars to methodically scan 180 degrees in front of the ship.  Ironically, a mother and baby calf Humpback whale surfaced almost directly in front of the ship. That was the only sighting, mostly due to choppy wave conditions.  I have to tell you that methodically scanning the ocean all day on a boat that is pitching and rolling can be very tedious, but very ZEN.

I also witnessed an XBT (Expendable Bathymetry Thermalgraph), a foot-long torpedo attached directly to the ship’s computer by a thin, hardly visible copper wire, dropped 460 meters.  It sends back the temperature data to the ship’s computer and then is released, thus the name, “expendable.”  I asked the scientist conducting the test if there had been any significant temperature changes during the past 10 years but that information was not available to her.

Today was a repeat of yesterday’s data gathering except for a CDT (conductivity, depth, temperature and oxygen) cast.  The “fish” CTD, or data sampling device, is hoisted with a crane over the side of the ship and submerged to a depth of 500 meters.  I found that the most interesting information taken was the chlorophyll count.  There was a dramatic  increase spike at 100-200 meters, and then a dramatic drop to about zero.  Chlorophyll is the beginning of the food chain.

Personal Log 

A large part of the day on a research vessel like this deals with the practical everyday functioning of the voyage. Today we had a fire drill, which was very straightforward and required that we all meet on the escape boat deck.  We also had an abandon ship exercise, and we all gathered on the same deck next to our prospective escape boats with our life vests and immersion suits.  We tried on our one-piece, head-to-toe, neoprene suits and got a good laugh because we looked like bright orange GUMBYS.  Actually, we felt a sense of relief mixed with anxiety that if we had to use them that we would be  prepared.

Linda Armwood, May 3, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Armwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
April 25 – May 5, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date: May 3, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  8 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  120°
Wind speed: 10 kt
Sea wave height: >1 ft.
Sea water temp: 10.7
Sea level pressure:  1022.5 mb
Present weather: Overcast
Temperature:  °C~ 9.5 dry/8.5wet

Linda Armwood dons her survival suit aboard the Fairweather
Linda Armwood dons her survival suit aboard the Fairweather

Science and Technology Log 

The weather data is collected daily by the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER. These observations can be used by ship personnel to help interpret the forecast and any changes in weather that may have occurred along the route.  This recorded data is sent monthly to the NOAA Seattle, WA station for archival purposes.  The observations of data that is collected on the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER at 4:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. are sent to NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS).  The NWS employs meteorologists who can use these observations from the sea to evaluate local weather conditions, to locate and determine the strength of weather systems, and prepare surface weather charts. In addition, meteorologists are able to use these observations to forecast over land areas to include long-range forecasts of climate, temperature, and precipitation; to monitor climatic change and ocean currents; and to conduct studies of the constant interaction of air and sea.

Personal Log 

The Alaska shape files, charts and sail plans will be an extra bonus for students to share in my journey!

Question of the Day 

Geospatial Semester and Environmental Science Students 

Make an inference of which continent is affected by the North Pacific Ocean weather systems.

A Profile of Able Seaman (in training) Emily Evans 

Able Seaman Evans is a native of Rochester, NY and is the sole female crew member in the Deck Department of the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER.  As an Able Seaman in training, she is committed to completing assigned duties and tasks, including manning the helm of the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER.  She graduated from Wellesley College, MA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 2000.

Her initial interest in working on the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER stems from her desire to advance in her career of marine science.  She has a 100-ton license with five years of sailboat driving.

She is fiercely independent in working towards setting her goals.  A short-term goal for Emily is to get more sea time so that she can get license advancement.  An additional short-term goal for her is to become NOAA system qualified.

Mrs. Armwood

Linda Armwood, May 2, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Armwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
April 25 – May 5, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date: May 2, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  130°
Wind speed: 7kt
Sea wave height: 0 ft.
Sea water temp: 10.2
Sea level pressure:  1030.0 mb
Present weather: Mostly cloudy
Temperature:  °C~ 9.0 dry/7.5wet

Science and Technology Log 

The ship continued to perform the Gulf of Esquibel data collection.  Today, however, the ship used the Moving Vessel Profiler (MVP), also known as the “Fish,” in place of the Seacat to provide multiple vertical profiles of the water’s data to include sound velocity and the CTD cast. Two advantages of using the MVP are 1) the ship does not have to come to a complete stop and 2) it is automatically deployed from the ship or initiated by the MVP operator without the need for deck personnel.  Once the MVP has created the profile, the survey tech is able to immediately view the data.

I witnessed the operation of the anchor as we prepared to leave San Fernando Island.  As able seamen positioned themselves on the ship’s bow to raise the anchor, it was clear that it is a major undertaking dependent upon teamwork.  There are two anchors, one on the port side (north left) of the ship and the other on the starboard side (north right) of the ship, that are alternately used.  Each anchor has eight shots of chain.  One shot of chain is equivalent to 90 feet. Of the eight shots of chain, there are selected color-coded chains in red, white, blue and yellow. These color-coded combinations allow the able seamen to determine how many shots to drop in the water and how many shots have been dropped in the water. As a rule, the number of shots dropped should be three to five times the depth of the water which is measured in fathoms.  One fathom of water equals six feet.

Personal Log 

Thanks Able Seaman Grayeagle for letting me read your book, Whittier–The Strangest Town in Alaska, truly a memorable nugget.

Question of the Day 

Geospatial Semester and Environmental Science Students 

Solve the following problem:  The FAIRWEATHER Ship dropped anchor in 35 fathoms of water. 1) What is the depth of the water in feet, 2) At least how many shots of chain should be dropped, and 3) Approximately how much chain is left out of the water?

A Profile of Ensign Matthew Glazewski 

Ensign Glazewski is the newest Junior Officer aboard the NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER.  As a Junior Officer, he has several collateral duties in ship management — Tides, Training Assistant, Weather, Discharge Certificates and Mess Treasurer.  He graduated from Penn State University, PA with a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology in 2005. His concentration of courses included Calculus, Physics and Weather Systems. His initial interest in meteorology began at an early age when he became curious about why trees fell on his parents’ home.  Matthew, nicknamed Matt, has an interest in tropical meteorology and has completed a case study of a 1975 tropical cyclone that traveled north while maintaining its characteristics in northern latitudes.  A short-term career goal for Matt is to pursue graduate studies in order to obtain a Master’s degree in Ocean Atmosphere Interaction.  His long-term career goal is to become an expert in the field of marine forecasting.

Matt wanted to become an Officer in the NOAA Officer Corps instead of working as a civilian. He believes that his experience on the NOAA ship FAIRWEATHER gives him an opportunity to see and apply what he has studied at Penn State and provides him with a better understanding of factors that influence small-scale climates.

Mrs. Armwood

Linda Armwood, May 1, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Linda Armwood
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
April 25 – May 5, 2006

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Aleutian Islands, Alaska
Date: May 1, 2006

Weather Data from Bridge 
Visibility:  10 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  182°
Wind speed: 14 kt
Sea wave height: 1 ft.
Swell wave direction: 235
Swell wave height: 1
Sea water temp: 7.5
Sea level pressure:  1029.6 mb
Present weather: Partly cloudy
Temperature:  °C~ 7.5 dry/6.0 wet

Science and Technology Log 

The ship performed a procedure for collecting data from a selected area of the Gulf of Esquibel analogously compared to ‘mowing the lawn.’  In this process the ship actually sails up and down the selected area within the Gulf collecting various data.  As the ship sails, parallel lines are produced on the hydrography chart.  The hydrography chart is viewed via the DELPHMAP system during this entire process in the pilot’s house and the plotroom.  In the plotroom, rotating survey technicians monitor the area being covered with four computer screens and communicate with the pilot’s room when data collection is paused and when it is resumed.

The ship performs this process rather than the launches because the ship works in deeper water than the launches. Sound data was collected today with an instrument called the Seacat. In order to collect sound data with the Seacat the ship has to come to a complete stop. The Seacat is manually attached to cable that is housed with a structure called the ‘J’ frame.  The cable travels through two rotating blocks and the Seacast is manually deployed into the water until it reaches the bottom of the water.  It is immediately pulled back onto the ship, detached from the cable, and attached to a computer for prompt reading of the data known as a Conductivity, Temperature, and Density (CTD) caste.

Personal Log 

Thanks to FAIRWEATHER shipmates for answering all of my questions either verbally, with hand-drawn illustrations, or through demonstrations.  The tide staff stop observations that Ensign Gonsalves and I made were consistent with the automatic tide gauge readings. I’ve got the results to prove it!

Question of the Day 

Geospatial Semester and Environmental Science Students 

Give the length and width of the Gulf of Esquibel.  Also, include the name and geographic location of its land boundaries.

Mrs. Armwood