Vincent Colombo, Traveling to Alaska? Better bring your patience hat, because the end result is worth the wait. June 12, 2015


NOAA Teacher at Sea
Vincent Colombo
Aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
June 11 – 30, 2015

Mission: Annual Pollock Survey
Geographical Area of Cruise: The Gulf of Alaska
Date: June 12, 2015

Weather Data from the Bridge:

  • Wind Speed: 0.38 knots
  • Sea Temperature: 9.4 degrees C
  • Air Temperature: 11.07 degrees C
  • Air Pressure: 1029.15 mb

 

Kodiak Alaska

Kodiak Alaska

 

The NOAA Corps Officers departing the port of Kodiak

The NOAA Corps Officers preparing for departure

Science and Technology Log:

We set sail on our cruise yesterday, June 11, 2015. So far, the scientists who work with MACE (Midwater Assessment and Conservation Engineering) have been non-stop getting all of their gear ready for their study. No matter what the hour, you can expect to see them working on something. Currently they have been calibrating their acoustic equipment, a very daunting task. I will post more about this equipment as I become more familiar with it, but I have to give the scientists a lot of credit because getting this highly coveted equipment up and running looks very stressful.

Acoustic Calibration

Acoustic Calibration

My first couple days in port allowed me to see the logistics of sailing on a ship for 3 weeks. There are 32 people on board this vessel and getting them fed is science in itself. I was there for the delivery of “stores,” or what us land dwellers would just call supplies. Feeding 32 people for 3 weeks is no easy task, not to mention going with the NOAA crew members to the local grocery store for some last-minute necessities.

The loading of stores on to the ships hero deck

The loading of stores on to the ships hero deck

 

Grocery Store Items

Grocery Store Items

The last part of my Science and Technology log involves the setup that involves how the ship gets fuel. To the untrained eye, when the ship docked at North Pacific Fuel, one may just see a docking station.

North Pacific Fuel in Kodiak Alaska

North Pacific Fuel in Kodiak Alaska

But look closely. There are no pumps. Their entire system is powered by gravity. The ship fueled for several hours. If you look at the system you see the supply tanks tucked up on the hillside. Gravitational Potential Energy is transformed into kinetic energy (and pressure) as the fuel moves down, thus eliminating the need for a massive pump to increase pressure. At Sussex Tech high school we teach a class called integrated science, and one of the topics covered is the transformation of energy. There are mechanical advantages everywhere, only if you know where to look.

Personal Log:

Thinking about traveling to Alaska? You better bring your patience hat. Living in Delaware, there are countless airports all in a reasonable distance to get you away: BWI, Dulles, Philadelphia, even Salisbury. I even personally know a professional pilot who lives in Rehoboth and flies out of New York. Growing up on the east coast, when they say a flight is delayed, we bicker and babble, but sooner or later you hook a flight where ever you are going. (It once took me 9 hours in Philadelphia International to get to Charlotte NC). Either way, my trip started off with a flight from Philly to Denver, then Denver to Anchorage. When I reached Anchorage, the official Welcome to Alaska came. High winds, dense fog, low visibility… all part of the game here. Maybe that’s one of the reasons low flying float planes are king. Unfortunately my fellow Teacher at Sea and I were benched before reaching Kodiak. Fourteen hours to be exact. This gives you plenty of time to explore the airport which is filled with fun facts, mounted animals, and a reminder that this is a fishing community.

This Alaskan Fisherman epitomizes "Sleep when and where you can"

This Alaskan Fisherman epitomizes “Sleep when and where you can”

I didn't realize these still existed

I didn’t realize these still existed

Luckily the next day we hopped our handy 2 prop plane and were headed for Kodiak. Not exactly the quietest or most comfortable ride, but they make up for it with free cookies and a friendly flight crew.

Flight Attendant Lana Karlberg, Captain Stevens.

Flight Attendant Lana Karlberg, Captain Stevens.

Free Cookies

Free Cookies

I don't know what the pilot sees coming into Kodiak. This is one of those times you have to trust the pilot.

I don’t know what the pilot sees coming into Kodiak. This is one of those times you have to trust the pilot.

We were met in Kodiak airport  by a NOAA Corps officer who then proceeded to take us to our home for the next couple of weeks.

My Stateroom

My Stateroom

The Oscar Dyson

The Oscar Dyson

While in Kodiak, I went on a flight that covered the entire island with Island Air, a local plane service. We went from the Trident Basin, to a cannery in Alitak (Ocean Beauty), to the village of Akhiok, the cannery in Port Bailey, and finally back to the Trident Basin. My pilot was Ben Haug, a true bush pilot. My flight coordinator, Deven Natoli told me that her father, Bob Stanford was actually featured on the show “Ultimate Bush Pilots.” Ben gave me an experience of a lifetime as we took off and landed many times. I even got to see coveted Kodiak Mountain goats sunning themselves on the peaks of Kodiak Island’s interior.

DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver - My ride for the day

DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver – My ride for the day

My bush pilot - Ben Haug

My bush pilot – Ben Haug

Alitak Cannery

Alitak Cannery

Kodiak by Air. This picture does no justice as to what you witness with your eyes.

Kodiak by Air. This picture does no justice as to what you witness with your eyes.

After my flight, the ship was ready to depart. When we left port we stopped in Chiniak Bay to calibrate the acoustic equipment. After a short 10 minutes online getting an Alaskan fishing license, one of the lead fisherman hooked me up with some fishing tackle, and I was ready to fish.

#fishinginkodiak

#fishinginkodiak

My first Alaskan Catch, a Pacific Cod

My first Alaskan Catch, a Pacific Cod

My 50 pound Halibut

My 50 pound Halibut

Did you know?

Alaska has more than three million lakes and more coastline than the rest of the United States combined.

2 responses to “Vincent Colombo, Traveling to Alaska? Better bring your patience hat, because the end result is worth the wait. June 12, 2015

  1. Have a great time, Vinny! I see Lucky Charms is the cereal of choice for Alaskan scientists at sea. Good choice.

  2. Wow, love the pictures!! Looks like you are having quite an adventure, can’t wait to hear all about it.
    Steve will like the shout out.

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