NOAA Teacher at Sea
Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
August 6 – 23, 2018
Mission: Arctic Access Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area of Cruise: Point Hope, northwest Alaska
Date: August 14, 2018
Weather Data from the Bridge
Air temperature: 8.8
Dry bulb 8.8 C
Wet bulb 7 C
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles (10.5 miles)
Wind speed: 23 knots
Wind direction: east
Barometer: 999 millibars
Cloud Height: 10K feet
Waves: 2 foot
Meet the Crew
It takes a lot of personnel to ensure a successful mission. There are over forty personnel onboard this ship. During the past week, I have had opportunities to get to know them.
LT Stephen Moulton at the helm
Stephen Moulton Operations Officer (in training) LT – NOAA
How did you first get involved in NOAA?
I was in the Coast Guard Reserves for eight years with some active time and trying to go back for active duty.
While working in Silver Spring, MD working as an industrial hygienist for an engineering company, I walked by NOAA Administration and inquired about jobs, applied for NOAA Corps and was accepted into training at the Coast Guard academy in 2012. Processed out of Coast Guard into NOAA Corps as an Officer in Training.
What is your job on board the Fairweather?
Operations Officer (in training). My job is to setup ships daily plan. This includes making sure we have the equipment, personnel and a good idea as to what the weather conditions will be for successful operation. Once we collect the data at sea, my job is to ensure the data is processed and meets NOAA’s standards and that it gets compiled into the correct format for distribution to our NOAA Pacific Hydrographic Branch. This data primarily gets converted into nautical charts which is used by mariners such as cargo ships, the US Coast Guard and recreational cruise passenger ships
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I love being on the water and love driving the ship, making a 200-ton vessel do what you want by using the wind and seas, and navigating around other ships.
Where do you spend most of your time?
Most time is now spent in operations, training for what the ship needs to being doing with its time and funding, keeping us on the ship’s mission, which is surveying.
How long have you been on board?
When you were in high school did you have any vision of working at sea?
No, I attended Assumption College and graduated with degree in global and environmental studies. It was tough finding a job with that degree, the only types of jobs with that degree is being a foreign officer .
What do you enjoy most abut living on board?
It makes a lot things convenient, commute to work is a walk upstairs, gym is down the stairs and meals are cooked and you have no dishes to clean. Everything you need is on board. Being able to explore the mountains and wild life in Juneau while the ship was under repair is another bonus.
What is the most challenging?
Being far from my family who are in Rhode Island with two adopted kids.
Which other NOAA ships have your served?
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, an east coast hydrographic survey from 2013 -2015 as an ensign. Spent 3 years on land as a CO-OPS handled tide gauge stations and operated small boats and traveled 4 weeks at a time for tide gauge maintenance along east coast team. Locations included Great Lakes and Puerto Rico.
Where do you see yourself in NOAA in the future?
Finishing up land assignment in Silver Spring Maryland and going out as an XO on a fisheries vessel in the Northeast such as NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow.
Hydrographic Assistant Survey Technician Simon Swart in the plot room
Simon Swart – Hydrographic Assistant Survey Technician
Where did you attend college and what was your degree in?
Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. BA in Environmental Science. Originally from the Cayman Islands and lived in San Francisco for ten years.
How did you get involved with NOAA?
Found out through scientific papers and knew I wanted to work with maps and applied science. I have been working aboard the Fairweather for five months.
Where is home?
San Francisco where my dad resides.
Describe your job?
It changes a lot depending on what is currently occurring. Six hour shifts on six hours off it simply depends on what is occurring in a day. While the boat launches are collecting data you are reviewing information and then process the data when it returns.
What do you enjoy most about being at sea?
Everything, love being on the water, that has a lot to do with growing up near the ocean. Every time I step outside on deck, it never ceases to amaze me with the beauty.
What are some challenges with ship life?
Living in close proximity with forty people living in close quarters.
What is your favorite place you have visited while working for NOAA?
Traveling through the Aleutian Islands. I still felt we were out far in the ocean with these beautiful islands.
Do you want to stay in the Alaskan region?
Yes, I have been wanting to traveling around Alaska since I was in high school. When I originally applied for NOAA, it did not specify Alaska.
What do you enjoy doing while you are off the ship, off duty?
It depends where the ship is located, hiking and fishing is what I enjoy most. Enjoy meeting and getting to know the local people at different ports. When returning to these ports, it is nice to get together with them and go hiking.
Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician Sam Candio
Sam Candio- Chief Hydrographic Survey Technician
What is your primary role?
Oversight of all the data, including the quality control and training new personnel.
Where are from?
New Jersey and attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington. And majored in BS Marine Biology. Cape Fear Community College associates degree Marine technology. This program is very good and this program has 95% job placement success. Got a job almost immediately after graduation
How did you get involved with NOAA?
I saw a job online and applied for it, always wanted to work for NOAA.
How many ships have you worked?
Have worked on board the Fairweather for three years.
What is your favorite place you have visited while on board?
Yakutat, near Juneau. There is an incredible glacier there, one of the only advancing glaciers in south east Alaska. There are eighteen thousand foot mountains in this region. It is also home to the northern most surf shop. You enjoy surfing in Alaska.
What do you enjoy the most about living on a ship?
I enjoy visiting all these remote places that few people get to see. For instance seeing the sun never setting and going to remote islands to set up remote GPS base stations.
What is your advice for anyone interested in cartography or marine biology?
Attend Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, North Carolina. As mentioned earlier, they have a great employment success rate of 95%. Start interning / volunteering as soon as you can. The community college also has a good research vessel with lots of hands on training. I traveled on two cruises, one to Baltimore and one to Bahamas. Each cruise has a different focus such as fish identification, mapping, bottom profiling and navigation.
Oiler Kyle Mosier in the Engine Room
Kyle Mosier – Oiler
Where are you from?
Grew up in Federal Way, Washington and moved to Gig Harbor, Washington, after high school to attend college.
What is your degree in?
AA degree from Pierce College, Lakewood, Washington. Then attended Seattle Maritime Academy with a focus of Engineering.
What is your primary role on the ship?
Maintain and repair equipment on engines and clean air filters for ships air supply and staterooms, and oil changes on our generators. Also, work on a lot of special projects on board with the engineering team.
How did you you get involved with NOAA?
I heard about it during maritime school and my Port Captain had worked for NOAA and heard good things about it and then applied. They called me back for an interview over the phone and then sent me to Newport Oregon for a pre-employment physical. Then traveled to Norfolk Virginia for orientation.
What do you do while you are off duty?
I love to write and passionate about stories and writing books. First I start by brainstorming ideas from the places I have gone to and the experiences I have and the people I meet. It helps for plot and settings. This job helps me with that as we travel all over the northwest region. In one of my books I used my experience seeing glaciers and used that as an awesome setting. The types of books I write are science fiction, mystery and adventure. I have over twenty books that have been published and a series of books entitled Katrina the Angel. My newest one, Natalie and the Search for Atlantis, is a Science Fiction which is the ninth one in the “Katrina the Angel” series. It is my most proud book that I have written and the longest. Writing makes me happy and hope one day to make it a career.
What do you enjoy the most about being at sea?
What I like most is the places we have gone to such as traveling around Alaska with a great crew. Juneau, Alaska, is my favorite. It has great people and everything is within walking distance. There are many places to go hiking and places that have Karaoke.
If someone wants to go out and buy one of your novels where can they purchase one?
Kindle device or Amazon.
What do you find most challenging about being on board the ship?
Unable to go home often
Do you have any plans as to working on another NOAA ship?
No, I enjoy it on the Fairweather
JO Cabot Zucker pilots a launch vessel
Cabot Zucker – Junior Officer
Where are you from?
Coastal town called Jupiter, Florida
Where did you attend College?
Went to the University of Florida and studied Wildlife Ecology and Sustainable Development
How did you first get involved in the NOAA Corps?
I was on vacation in North Carolina and saw a job posting regarding the NOAA Corps.
What are the requirements for getting accepted into the NOAA Corps?
You need a four year degree and they like to see experience in marine science or physical science preferably and being well rounded. There is a physical and medical screening pretty much the same as the military.
What are your responsibilities?
My main responsibility is to drive and safely navigate the ship and support its mission. Other collateral duties include, damage control, small boat officer assist with ship fleet inspection and inventory management on the ship. Included with this is other administrative paper work and tasks.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really like how dynamic, challenging and a lot of responsibility. and I love the challenging work environment and how I continually learn new skills. I have been on this ship for two months.
During these two months, what is the most amazing view you have seen?
The transition through the Aleutian Islands, the scenery there includes snow covered volcanoes, intense scenery of jagged cliffs. Saw lots of whales, puffins and other sea birds.
What is some of the challenges with working on a ship?
There is constant distractions and its such a dynamic environment. Plans are constantly changing and you have to adapt and get the work done. Being away from my wife has been challenging and I will see her in December for three weeks.
What place have you visited while serving the ship that you enjoyed the most?
I enjoyed Juneau, hiking the mountain and snow fields. Visited the Mendenhall Glacier and enjoyed fishing. We caught Pinks and Chum which are both types of Salmon.
I have now been at sea for over one week. The weather for the most part has been remarkable, sunshine. Last night we sailed into a sheltered area south of Point Hope, Kotzebue Sound, as the remnants of a tropical storm spun by. The wind gusts were recorded at 30 knots and the seas peaked around 8 feet. The Fairweather handled the rough seas well and rocked me to sleep. We are sailing back to the Point Hope area to conduct more surveying during this remainder of this week. At Point Hope, the sun rises at 6:20 am and sets at 12:04 am. As each day passes, the daylight is getting shorter by 10 minutes as we head into fall. On December 21st, the sun will be directly overhead at 21 degrees south Latitude and marks is the winter solstice. Using the image below, notice that the sun is shining a 90 degree angle directly above the Earth at 21 degrees south latitude. Locate the Arctic Circle and imagine the globe spinning, what do you see or not see at the Arctic Circle during the Winter Solstice?
Diagram of Earth at Winter Solstice. Image from thenorthwestforager.com.
Question of the Day How much sunlight will Point Hope receive December 21st during the Winter Solstice?
Answer from yesterday Answer is 74% relative humidity.
Relative humidity measures how much water vapor the atmosphere can hold at a specific temperature. Relative humidity is really a measurement of comfort and that is why meteorologist use this especially during the summer months. At warmer temperatures, the atmosphere can hold large amounts of water vapor. In the south, we always relate high humidity with hot temperatures. As the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, water will cling to the nearest object, you; thus it becomes uncomfortable. However, at cooler temperatures, the atmosphere cannot hold that much water vapor, so the atmosphere can reach 100%, but it is comfortable as there simply is not a lot of water in the atmosphere.
Until next time, happy sailing!