Mary Cook: Day 10 at Sea, March 28, 2016

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard R/V Norseman II
March 18-30, 2016

Mission: Deepwater Ecosystems of Glacier Bay National Park
Geographical Area of Cruise: Glacier Bay, Alaska
Date: Monday, March 28, 2016
Time: 7:48 am

Data from the Bridge
Pressure: 1022 millibars
Speed: 5.6 knots
Location: N 58°56.540’, W 136°54.153’

Science and Food Log

Blustery Conditions

Blustery conditions in Glacier Bay

This morning at the science meeting, Chief Scientist Rhian Waller expressed that, even though we’ve had blustery weather conditions the last few days, most of the scuba dive and sample collection goals have been met making this scientific cruise a huge success! It’s nice to be able to take a deep breath and realize the science objectives are going to be met before deadline! Everyone’s hard work has paid off. We are all glad for the exceptionally clear skies and good weather during the first half of the cruise. Rain, snow, fog and wind have been the environmental setting for R/V Norseman II in Glacier Bay this weekend.

I am hoping to get to go back out on the little dive boat today or tomorrow one last time, even though it’s a bit choppy out there.

Yesterday, the scuba divers brought up some more fascinating samples from their dives!

Amongst the curious creatures were beautiful sea stars, a jellyfish that reminds me of a jam-drop cookie, a big yellow nudibranch, a fat-looking brown sea cucumber and a one-armed sea star! The one-armed sea star was alive and moving. Did you know that sea stars have the ability to regenerate missing body parts? So this one-armed guy will grow another body!


Hard working scientists, divers, and crew members need good food to sustain their abilities to concentrate and do the physical labor.

Thanks to our ship’s cooks, Harry and Darrin, we have an abundance of delicious and healthful food choices prepared daily onboard the R/V Norseman II. As each mealtime approaches I look forward to finding out what these two guys have whipped up to serve everyone onboard.


According to Head Cook Harry, who is a retired Navy cook with over 26 years of cooking experience, the biggest difference in meal preparation on a ship is the scale. They are preparing four full meals a day for 23 people in a small kitchen!

Their shifts are from 7 to 7. Harry works the day shift preparing lunch and supper. Darrin, the assistant cook, works the night shift preparing midnight meal and breakfast. You may recognize names of some of the famous chefs that Darrin has worked for during his off-season: Emeril and Chappy.

Darrin in the Galley crop

Assistant Cook Darrin works the night shift


The biggest challenge is planning the meals for 14 days without being able to go to the grocery store if something was forgotten. One thing Harry never, ever forgets is coffee. There must be plenty of coffee onboard.

Bunn Coffee Brewer

Improvisation becomes an important skill for the ship’s cook–to make do with what you have. Rotating foods and re-purposing leftovers into something tasty are essential. I must say these guys do a wonderful job of putting on a sumptuous, nutritious meal four times a day every day!

Sumptuous Meal

In addition to the great meals, Darrin is a pastry chef whose baking fills the ship with the delightful scents of cakes and cookies. Darrin shares that when baking on a ship you must rotate what’s in the oven often or it’ll come out lop-sided!

I’m also impressed that we are still having fresh green salads at this point in the voyage.

Harry relates that he buys lettuce in whole heads and keeps them cold. This enables him to get at least two weeks of good out of the fresh produce. A cool, dry place for storage of potatoes, carrots, beets and squash is in the fore peek hold located in the ship’s bow. Every nook and cranny of the ship is used for something! No wasted spaces here.

Good quality food and skilled meal preparation is very important on a lengthy voyage—for the health and overall morale of the hard working people on board the R/V Norseman II.

Hmmm….. I wonder what’s for lunch?

Whats For Lunch

Personal Log

I really can’t express the wonder and awe that I feel when getting to view the creatures from the deep. Seeing pictures is just not as good as seeing them in person and getting to hold them in my hands. They move and creep along exploring their new environs while Dann and Kasey and I take photos. With each new batch I get another wonderful science lesson from one of the scientists explaining the life cycles, behaviors and importance of these animals! Many of you will be happy to know that after their “glamour shots” most of the animals are returned to the ocean.

So, I just found out that I get to go out on the next dive boat! Yay!

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Lisa Kercher, June 11, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Lisa Kercher
Onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather
June 11 – 24, 2006

U. S. Coast Guard Ship docked in the Deep Water Dock of the Homer Spit.

U. S. Coast Guard Ship docked in the Deep Water Dock of the Homer Spit.

Mission: Hydrographic Survey
Geographic Area: Alaska
Date: June 11, 2006

Science and Technology Log 

I have already seen some gorgeous scenery, including the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Glacier Bay National Park, Anchorage, and Homer.  The flight into Homer was a bit bumpy on such a small plane.  There were maybe 15 passengers!  I saw a moose as we arrived in Homer in some swampy waters near the coast – no antlers though.  The Homer Airport reminded me of my hometown Thomasville Airport – VERY SMALL!  The land here is much different than at home.  The coast, a sheer drop off from the above plateau, has very muddy “beaches.”  From the airport, I got a ride with some other scientists boarding the FAIRWEATHER to the Homer Spit.  This is the pier where many boats are docked and people camp and vacation.  Apparently there is a strip of stores further down the pier – yes, it includes a McDonalds!  As we drove into the Deep Water Dock where the ship was located a huge cruise dwarfed the image of the FAIRWEATHER. There was also a US Coast Guard ship at the same dock.  Take a look at the pictures below of what I saw on the Deep Water Dock!

As I prepared to board the ship I quickly snapped a picture of the ramp up to the ship

As I prepared to board the ship I quickly snapped a picture of the ramp up to the ship

Personal Log 

The flight across country was long and exhausting.  I realized that I would be adding four hours to my day and be very tired if I stayed up late.  I retired in my stateroom at about 9:00 pm Alaska time, 1:00 am Pennsylvania time!  What a way to start summer vacation!  The noise while I slept was deafening, but I was so tired I didn’t move until my trusty alarm went off at 7:00 am today.  I headed to breakfast and the start of my day!

Question of the Day 

Explain the reasoning why there are no trees (but lots of snow!) at the tops of the mountains in places like the Canadian Rockies and Glacier Bay National Park.

View off the end of the Deep Water Dock looking towards the Homer Airport

The end of the Deep Water Dock looking towards the Homer Airport

My Stateroom SR C-05-106

My Stateroom SR C-05-106

Overlooking the Canadian Rocky Mountains from the plane.

Overlooking the Canadian Rocky Mountains from the plane.

Glacier Bay National Park, AK

Glacier Bay National Park, AK