Caroline Singler, August 22-23, 2010


NOAA Teacher at Sea: Caroline Singler
Ship: USCGC Healy

Mission: Extended Continental Shelf Survey
Geographical area of cruise: Canada Basin in Arctic Ocean
Date of Post: 23 August 2010

A Great Day for Flying – 22 August 2010

View from the Helo
View from the Helo
Location and Weather Data from the Bridge
Date: 22 August 2010
Time of Day: 2200 (10:00 p.m.) local time; 05:00 UTC
Latitude: 78º31.9’N Longitude: 149º21.3’W
Ship Speed: 4.2 knots Heading: 63.8º (northeast)
Air Temperature: 3.98ºC/38.10ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1024.6 mb Humidity: 67.5%
Winds: 7.4 knots NE Wind Chill: -0.4ºC/31.2ºF
Sea Temperature: -1.3ºC Salinity: 27.64 PSU
Water Depth: 3829.9 m
Date: 23 August 2010
Time of Day: 2310 (11:10 p.m.) local time; 06:10 UTC
Latitude: 78º31.9’N Longitude: 149º21.3’W
Ship Speed: 4.9 knots Heading: 4.3º (NNE)
Air Temperature: -1.74ºC/28.87ºF
Barometric Pressure: 1026.8 mb Humidity: 93.7%
Winds: 8.4 knots NW Wind Chill: -8.05ºC/17.5ºF
Sea Temperature: -1.4ºC Salinity: 27.25 PSU
Water Depth: 3773.9 m
Personal Log
Sunday wasn’t an ordinary day right from the start. As always, I checked the Almanac data on the ship tracker map when I woke up in the morning, and I noticed that there were no sunrise and sunset times listed, only local noon – 8/22 22:06Z, which is 3:06 p.m. here – and local midnight – 8/23 10:05Z, or 3:05 a.m. here. Sometime on Saturday night, we ventured into latitudes that are far enough north to still receive 24 hours of daylight at this time of year. The weather was perfect – high pressure, clear skies, a few high wispy cirrus clouds, light wind, and temperature just above freezing. The sea ice coverage was between 6 and 8 tenths – more than we had seen recently. Where previously there was open water between ice floes, now there was grease ice – a thin icy surface that shimmered in the morning sun and formed intricate patterns when pushed aside by larger pieces broken by Healy.
Morning Sun over ice
Morning Sun over ice
Grease Ice Patterns
Grease Ice Patterns

Just when it seemed that a day couldn’t get much better, my pager went off, which always catches me by surprise. Chief Scientist Brian Edwards informed me that PolarTREC teacher Bill Schmoker and I would be visiting the Louis after lunch along with two Healycrew members. Suddenly the teachers at sea became “Teachers Aloft”, a catchy phrase courtesy of USGS scientist Helen Gibbons.

Helicopter operations (“flight ops”) on Healy are serious business. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure the safe transfer of personnel between the two ships. I thought I would be more nervous than I was, but there wasn’t much time to be nervous. I just did what I was told and before I knew it we were on our way. Here are some photos taken before the flight. (Photos taken by USGS scientist Helen Gibbons unless otherwise noted.)

Suiting up in a Mustang floatation suit:
Suiting Up
Suiting Up
Canadian Ice Services Specialist Erin Clark briefs us about safety issues before our flight on the Canadian Coast Guard helicopter.
From left: USCG ENS Holly McNair; USCG CDR John Reeves, Erin Clark, Bill Schmoker, and me.
From left: USCG ENS Holly McNair; USCG CDR John Reeves, Erin Clark, Bill Schmoker, and me.
Ready to fly
Ready to fly
Helo on deck
Helo on deck
Boarding Helo
Boarding Helo
Buckled In (photo by USCG IT1 Miguel Uribarri)
Buckled In
(photo by USCG IT1 Miguel Uribarri)
Lift Off
Lift Off
Helo in flight
Helo in flight
Walli Rainey of Natural Resources Canada gave us a tour of the living and working spaces on Louis, which are set up differently from Healy’s – Healy feels more like a working vessel with a distinct military style; Louis is designed a bit more for comfort, with drop ceilings covering the pipes, ducts and wires that are exposed on Healy and curtains on the windows, many of which are large square windows not portholes. While visiting the bridge, I noticed that we were surrounded by ice, which puzzled me because Healy was breaking ice for Louis, but pressure on the ice had caused it to move back into the track cleared by HealyHealycame around to starboard to try to help free Louis from the ice, giving us an opportunity for a good look at and photo opportunity of our “home” ship.
Photo of USCGS Healy from USCGS Lewis
Photo of USCGS Healy from USCGS Louis
Me on USCGS Louis
Me on USCGS Louis

Eventually, the captain determined that Louis could not get free without pulling the seismic gear. Less than an hour later, we were on our way back to Healy with a great new experience to share.

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