Jennifer Richards, September 5, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Richards
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 5 – October 6, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: September 5, 2001

Latitude: 32.7°N
Longitude: 117.2° W
Temperature: 75° F

Seas: Since we are still at port in a protected harbor, there is no swell. The water is extremely calm.

Science Log: Research has not yet started. The scientific crew was notified in a ship briefing that they are not allowed to gather and record data until the ship leaves Mexican waters.

Travel Log: This morning, my husband Rob and John Kermond from NOAA came to watch the ship depart. Rob brought me an extra pair of shoes since mine were still stuck in the drawer. Then I realized the drawer had a special latch that had to be pushed in, and my shoes weren’t locked in after all! Dork mistake #1.

There was a lot of activity around the ship as the crew and scientists rushed to tie everything down- from computers to bottles and flasks, to heavy equipment and cranes on deck. Everything on the ship must be securely locked or tied down or bolted to something prior to departure, since the movement of the ship could cause things to start flying.

Finally, the big departure at 10am. We sailed for an hour up to the fueling dock at Point Loma, where we docked for another 5 hours. It was evening before we were out at sea.

As soon as the ship left the protected harbor, I was very aware of the swaying, and knew I would need something to prevent me from getting seasick. Some people wore special wristbands that use acupuncture to suppress seasickness. Other people wore a patch behind their ear that releases medication into their bodies. I chose an over-the-counter medication called Meclizine. It works well, but puts me to sleep.

I started reading the “Voyage of the Beagle” which is Charles Darwin’s journal of his 5-year voyage in the 1830s to the Galapagos Islands and all over the world. You may recall that Darwin developed the theories of evolution, natural selection, and survival of the fittest that we still believe today. Did you know that Darwin was seasick during the entire voyage??!! How miserable that must have been. During the 5-year journey, he was only on the ship for 18 months, and never more than 45 days at a time (I’ll be on this ship for 31 days). He was 20 years old when he left Britain on the HMS Beagle, and 25 years old when he returned home, only a few years younger than me, and not too much older than my high school students. It’s pretty inspiring to think of someone so young contributing so much to the scientific community. I’ll fill you in on more Darwin stuff as I keep reading his journals.

Question of the day: One of today’s photos shows a “marine layer” (see photo descriptions below). What causes the marine layer to sit over coastal land in San Diego?

Photo Descriptions: Today’s photos focus on the beautiful scenery of San Diego harbor. You’ll see pictures of a variety of ocean vessels, the picturesque Coronado bridge, and the “marine layer” off the coast. The marine layer is an area of the San Diego coast that is fogged in, even when the sky above the water and the sky further inland is perfectly clear and sunny.

Keep in touch,
Jennifer

Jennifer Richards, September 4, 2001

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Jennifer Richards
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
September 5 – October 6, 2001

Mission: Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes
Geographical Area: Eastern Pacific
Date: September 4, 2001

Latitude: 32.7° N
Longitude: 117.2° W
Temperature: 75° F

Seas: Since we are still at port in a protected harbor, there is no swell. The water is extremely calm.

Travel Log

Tomorrow the ship departs San Diego, California for its big adventure! I saw the ship for the first time this morning, and had the opportunity to meet Captain Dreves and Chris Fairall, the Chief Scientist. At 274 feet long, the ship certainly isn’t small, but it is docked at the Naval Station and is surrounded by huge grey navy ships, dwarfing the RONALD H. BROWN. Some of my students had asked if the captain has a white beard, smokes a pipe, and has a peg leg or a patch on his eye. The answer is “no” to all of those questions (sorry to disappoint you). I’ll be sure to take his picture as soon as I unpack my camera.

The pre-trip hoopla was pretty exciting and tiring. A reporter from the Navy Compass and a cameraman from KUSI, a local television station, came to the ship to interview the captain, Chris, and me. The weatherman at KUSI did a nice 2.5 minute piece about the cruise on the evening news in which he spoke about the importance of the research being conducted, and the Teacher at Sea (me!). Dr. John Kermond from NOAA gave me a tour of the ship, which Captain Dreves described very eloquently as “an industrial workplace with an enhanced chance of drowning.” On the inside, it has laboratory areas, a mess hall, small library, lounge with a television, lots of staterooms, and a lot of industrial areas filled with heavy equipment and people with dirty shirts. There’s something for everyone!

This afternoon John Kermond came up to my school (Guajome Park Academy in Vista, California) so I could say goodbye to my students. They wanted to know if I’m going to miss them, so let me put it in writing right here- YES! I really enjoy spending my days with my 9th and 10th grade Earth Science and Math students, and I will miss getting to see them every day.

Finally, I made it home to get my suitcase and say goodbye to my dog and cat, Birch and Hobbes. Birch knew something was going on- he gets nervous when suitcases leave the house and he’s not invited. Then back to the ship for a photo shoot with the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. What a busy day! I’m definitely not used to being in the spotlight like this, and I felt pretty awkward with cameras on me the whole day, but I survived.

Once things settled down, my husband, Rob came to the ship to see me. John and I gave him the tour, and I was very happy to see him before my big departure. Although the ship doesn’t leave until tomorrow morning, I thought I would spend the night here so I can get used to is layout before it gets too wobbly in the ocean.

My first adventure on the ship went something like this: I was getting ready for bed and put my sneakers in a drawer in my stateroom. When it was time to visit the head (bathroom) I found that it had been locked from the inside. Since I share a head with another room, I thought someone was using it. After waiting a while, and realizing that the only way in was to go through my neighbor’s room, I went to get my shoes on. Now, you need to understand that I received at least a half-dozen emails prior to getting on the ship telling me to bring shoes that cover my whole feet, because anything else will not be allowed outside of the stateroom. Well, when I went to get my shoes on, so that I could walk down the hall to the neighbor’s stateroom, so that I could get into the bathroom, I realize the drawer had locked!! Without shoes, I couldn’t leave my room, and I couldn’t unlock the head! So I poked my head out of my room until someone walked by and I asked for help. The Chief Scientist showed me how to unlock the head with a penny, but we had no luck unlocking my shoes.

Question of the Day: The name of the ship I am on is the “R/V RONALD H. BROWN.” This question has two parts: 1. What does R/V stand for, and 2. Who is Ronald H. Brown?

Keep in touch,
Jennifer