NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
October 31, 2011 – November 1, 2011
Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographical Area: Atlantic Ocean, between Montauk, L.I. and Block Island
Date: November 7, 2011
Weather Data from the Bridge
Clouds: 2/8 Cu, Ci
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Wind: SE 21 knots
Temperature 14.0° Celsius
Dry Bulb: 14.1 ° Celsius
Wet Bulb: 12.0 ° Celsius
Barometer: 1024.2 millibars
Latitude: 41°08’232″ ° North
Longitude: 072°04’78″ ° West
Current Celestial View of NYC:
Current Moon Phase:
Current Seasonal Position (make sure to click on “show earth profile):
Science and Technology Log
Monday started with my alarm beckoning my eyes to open at 4:15am. I found my right pointer finger hitting snooze not once, but twice, only to finally move myself from the medium of a dreamlike state to a stand-up position at 4:36. I made it to the galley for breakfast and a safety brief for the 3102 launch.
Today I will be joining COXSWAIN Tom Bascom and HIC Matt Vanhoy to perform near-shore surveying on sections that have both holidays and missed information. Holidays do not mean we will be scanning for Santa’s missing sleigh, or find Columbus’s ship Santa Maria run aground, but rather areas that have been previously surveyed and unfortunately recorded absolutely no information. Holidays occur sometimes due to rough seas, oxygen, as well as possible rocky ocean floors.
After Tom, Matt, and I were lowered in the 3102 by the davit and help of the TJ crew, we went to Fisher Island and began the slow mowing movements of surveying. The ride to Fisher Island was incredibly bumpy and the entire deck was wet from the swells pushing up at the bow. Currently there are winds upwards of 16 knots and a chill in the air. Vanhoy is below deck in the surveying room and Bascom is manning the boat. Me, well, I am observing for now and loving the chaotic changing seas. After about 2 hours on deck with Tom I went below to the survey room… that lasted about 20 minutes. I became really sea sick and returned to deck with Tom. Matt told me that he often gets sea sick while surveying on the launches and will come up to the stern, puke, and continue on through the day (wow). When you are on a launch the motions of the ocean are magnified and you can feel the movements much more so than on the ship.
While we were passing by the massive houses located on Fisher Island, Tom commented that unless there is love inside the homes, they are like the numerous clam shells we find already emptied and eaten by fish and gulls. He said that peace and happiness is not a large house, but the land that surrounds the home. Tom has been on the open waters for the past 30 years and has found solace in simplicity. He is a determined individual who presses on and is concerned with following protocol and ensuring the safety of those around him.
After lunch we finished our survey sections and still had 3 hours before needing to return so went around the area and collected bottom samples. Bottom samples (BS) is probably the most fun thing I have been able to help with on the ship. We used a device called the Van Veen Grab system and lowered it into the water. When we thought the Sampler was in contact with the ocean floor we pulled a few times up and down on the line and then hoisted the grabber to the deck.
The bottom samples are taken for the fisheries division as well as for ships that are interested in areas that they will be able to anchor in. For the most part we pulled samples of course sand and broken clam shells (I hope this is no reflection of Fisher Island). The further away from the shore line we went the more courser the sand became as well the more rocks we sampled. Most of the rocks were metamorphic and consisted of marble and a little quartzite. This surprised me given the location. I though most of the rocks would be sedimentary based on the surrounding topography and surface features.
I appreciate Tom and Matt taking the time to review and connect me into each process. Tom taught me how to drive the launch… that was really FUN. With all of the monitors it was hard to discern between reality and a glamorous video game. Radar showed me where I was going, and a survey map outlined the areas I was trying to move to in order to take the next bottom sample. Watching everything at once is not easy to do because you also have to pay attention to the waters. The shoals (shallow waters) often have “pots” which are lobster traps placed everywhere. The pots have a cage on the bottom of the ocean floor and a huge buoy at the surface so you can locate them and steer clear of them.
Upon returning to the ship, I watched yet another amazing sunset and Matt take the survey data from the ship and upload it on the ship’s network while Tom and ENS Norman hosed down the salt from the deck and prepped the 3102 for a new day.