Scott Donnelly, April 25, 2008

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Scott Donnelly
Onboard NOAA Ship McArthur II
April 20-27, 2008

Mission: Assembly of Science Team and Movement of Science Gear/Equipment
Geographical Area: Coos Bay to Astoria, Oregon
Date: April 25, 2008

Weather Data from the Bridge 
Sunrise: 0620 Sunset: 2010
Wind: 5-10 kts
Seas: 2 ft
Rain likely

A nautical chart of the Coos Bay area
A nautical chart of the Coos Bay area

Science and Technology Log 

Longitudinal sampling continues along the Coos Bay Line. Coordinates for all measurements (twelve sampling stations total) along Coos Bay are 43O20’N, 124O27’W to 125O27’ extending 3 to 55 miles from shore and from depths of 50m (165ft) to 2,800m (9,200ft). Today was my seventh (morning) and (afternoon) eighth 4-hour shift. All went well.

Personal Log 

After the morning shift I asked my shift mate and veteran sailboat skipper Bob Sleeth to give me some pointers on how to set a nautical heading using parallel rulers. I know all about latitude and longitude but have never sat down with a nautical chart and looked at all the interesting information found on them. As a kid I watched a lot of old World War II naval films like Midway and Iwo Jima and I remember the scenes where the captain and senior officers are studying a nautical chart of the western Pacific with obvious intensity in order to plot a heading to cut off supplies for the Japanese navy or whatever. I always thought those scenes cool.

NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly charting a marine navigational heading
NOAA TAS Scott Donnelly charting a marine navigational heading

So here I am thirty years or so later, a happily married father of two and professor of chemistry, in my mind pretending the role of ship’s navigator on the famous WWII battleship USS Missouri as I consult with Capt. Stuart Murray in setting a heading to Tokyo Harbor with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur on board, making last-minute preparations for the surrender of the Empire of Japan ending World War II. I guess I can blame all the fresh ocean air I’ve taken in the past week for such a fantasy.

About mid-morning after a deep sleep I went to the flying bridge (observation deck) located above the ship’s operations bridge to watch the true masters of the sky- the albatross- glide effortlessly just inches above the glassy, mirrored ocean surface. The albatross rarely flaps its wings when flying. Rather, the albatross conserves its energy for its long distance oceanic travels by using the uplift from the wind deflected off ocean waves. Their long, slender, aerodynamically efficient wing structure allows the albatross to stay aloft for hours at a time. They soar in long looping arcs. They indeed are a grand spectacle to observe.

View from the McARTHUR II flying bridge
View from the McARTHUR II flying bridge


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: