Laura Grimm: Chizzywinks and Hawsepipers, July 21, 2022

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Laura Grimm

Aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

July 4 – July 22, 2022

Mission: Hydrographic Survey of Lake Erie

Geographic Area of Cruise: Lake Erie

Date: July 21, 2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 41 36.7’ N

Longitude: 080 40.3’ W

Sky Conditions: Few clouds

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 15.3 knots

Wind Direction: 254 W

Lake Temperature: 23.6 C

Wave Height:  3 feet

Dry Bulb: 26.2 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 22.8 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity: 75%

a section of bathymetric data (color-coded to reflect depth) within  polygons overlaid on a political map of Lake Erie off of Cleveland
We are back to surveying off the north coast of Cleveland

Science and Technology Log

Humidity: In each blog post, I report the dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures plus the calculated relative humidity. 

What is humidity?  It is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. The higher the humidity, the “stickier” the air feels outside.  Think about a hot August day in Ohio.  The air feels sticky and uncomfortable.  Chances are that the humidity is high.

What is relative humidity?  Relative humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor the air can hold at the same temperature.  Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air.  Once you know the wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures, you can use a conversion table to calculate the relative humidity. (I discussed this topic in my July 7: Echoes and Flares blog post.

This video might help you understand the concept further.

What is humidity?
dry and wet bulb thermometers mounted on a wall, inside a box. The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water. 
Dry and wet bulb thermometers are used to calculate relative humidity

These thermometers are used to measure the dry bulb (left) and wet bulb (right) temperature measurements.  The dry bulb measures air temperature.  The wet bulb thermometer has a tiny sock on the end that is sitting in a container of water.  The physics of water evaporating causes the temperature to decrease. So, this thermometer will register a lower temperature.  A person then uses a comparison cart to calculate the relative humidity.  The dryer the air, the more quickly the water from the sock will evaporate.  A larger difference between the dry and wet bulb thermometers will result in a lower relative humidity reading. 

the white box with holes in the cover that contains the thermometers
The dry and wet bulb thermometers are contained in a white box with holes in the cover.  This is to minimize the effect of direct sun.

Students: We have a “wet wall” also known as a “swamp cooler” in the greenhouse to cool the greenhouse when it gets too warm.  How is this related to humidity?  How does this work to cool the greenhouse?  (Hint: Look up the concept of evaporative cooling.)

Latitude and Longitude: Each time I write a blog post I have told you where I am.  I do this by telling you my “address” on the globe by listing the ship’s latitude and longitudinal lines.  But just what are latitude and longitude lines and how do they tell you where you are on the globe?

Latitude and longitude are a system of lines used to describe the location of any place on Earth.  Think of latitude and longitude as an imaginary grid placed over the world to help you find places. Each place on the Earth has an address.  The address is where the lines of latitude and longitude cross.  Although these are only imaginary lines, they appear on maps and globes as if they actually existed.

illustration of a sphere covered in parallel latitude lines and vertical longitude lines
Latitude – Flatitude!          Longitude lines are Long!
a chart about Latitude (horizontal lines on a globe) v Longitude (vertical lines on a globe); illustration of a globe; equator and prime meridian highlighted
This chart summarizes a lot of information about latitude and longitude.
  • Latitude are the points north and south of the equator. The equator is halfway between the North and South Poles. It’s an imaginary horizontal line that cuts the planet completely in half. Latitude lines are imaginary lines that are a specific degree away from the equator going to the North and South Pole.  Between each line of latitude there are 60 minutes which are then again subdivided into 60 seconds.
    • They are also known as “parallels” and run east-west.
    • Equator = 0ᵒ; North Pole = 90ᵒN; South Pole = 90ᵒS
    • Northern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒNorth
    • Southern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 90ᵒSouth
    • 1 degree of latitude = 60 nautical miles
    • 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile
    • 1 nautical mile = 1.15 statute miles (Statute miles are used on land.)
  • Longitude are the points east and west of the prime meridian.  Like the equator, the prime meridian is an imaginary vertical line that splits the world in half from the North to the South Pole. Longitude are vertical lines going from one pole to the other starting at the prime meridian.  I like to think of the lines of longitude like the distance between the edges of sections of an orange.  They are further apart near the middle (equator) and get closer together as they near the ends.
    • 0ᵒ = the Prime Meridian that passes through Greenwich, England
    • 180ᵒ = halfway around the Earth; it is roughly the international dateline
    • Western Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒWest of Greenwich
    • Eastern Hemisphere = 0ᵒ through 180ᵒEast of Greenwich
    • Longitudinal lines vary with distance from the equator

This video may help you understand these concepts more clearly. 

Want to understand latitude and longitude?

What is the latitude and longitudinal address of your town? Use this interactive map to find the latitude and longitudinal address of your house!  I found using the “satellite” view handy. 

Another way to find out is to go to  Google Maps and type in your address.  Once the App has found your house, right click on the red pin.  At the top of the list will be your latitude / longitude coordinates.

Chizzywinks: This message was recently written on a white board outside of the crew lounge.  What are these invaders?  They do not seem to bite; however, they are very annoying.  They are everywhere!

message on whiteboard reads: Please keep ALL doors closed! Flies are attacking the ship inside and out. Everyone report to your battle stations LOL
Report to your battle stations!
close-up view of midges
In mid-July we had a period with little wind. This insect covered many of the surfaces of the ship. While it somewhat resembles a mosquito, this is in insect called a midge . . . or a chizzywink.

No one on board seemed to know what they were (other than annoying), so I contacted two friends back home.  Drs. Rowe and Nault have expertise in plant pathology and entomology – but, more importantly, they are fly fishermen and really know about the insects that call Lake Erie “Home”.

These lovely, pesky insects are midges.  They have many other names, including lake flies, Canadian soldiers, or chizzywinks, just to name a few. They live on the lake bottom as worm-like larvae, many of which are blood red.  In this life stage they eat decaying plant matter.  Eventually, they enter the pupal stage.  This is a nonfeeding stage between the larva and adult, during which it undergoes a complete change within a hardened case.  The pupae (more than one pupa) slowly rise to the surface through the water column.  They are a major source of food for fish and other aquatic animals.  Fishermen consider them good bugs!  Those aboard NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson might beg to differ.

Once at the surface, the adults emerge and get rid of their pupal cases in the surface film of the water.  They often emerge by the thousands. In fact, in certain places around the world there can be so many midges that once they die, they are considered fertilizer.

The adults look like “mosquito-like” flies, but don’t bite. Many are eaten by birds. 

Once the larvae emerge as flying adults, they stop eating and have only one thing on their minds – mating. According to Water Blogged, a blog published by the Science and Stories of the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the adults “gather in huge clouds and, well, get to know one another. After mating, the male eventually expires, with the female not far behind – but first she’ll return to the water to lay her eggs.”  The eggs laid on the surface sink to the bottom, and the cycle begins again.

(Students – Compare and contrast the life cycle of a midge and the monarch butterfly or darkling beetles.)

illustrated diagram of the life cycle of a midge: egg, larva, pupa, adult
Life cycle of the non-biting midge, a.k.a chizzywinks.

Learn more about the midge in this video.

Midges are invertebrates.

Meet the Crew

Chief Electronics Technician Justin Witmer points a screwdriver at a screw on a wall of technology
Justin Witmer, Chief Electronics Technician on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

Justin Witmer has worked on NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson as the Chief Electronics Technician for the past 3 years.  Prior to this position he worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyards.  He is a sailor at heart having spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy.

What does your job entail?  He is responsible for most of the things on TJ that plug into a wall.  This includes the maintaining and repairing the sonars (which are essential to the hydrographic work), other ship sensors, computers, etc.  From the sonar on the keel to the wind bird at the top, he is responsible for the electronics in between. 

Where do you do most of your work?  I work mostly from my office which is right off the Survey Control Room where I do computer and user account maintenance as well as electronics troubleshooting duties.

What do you like most about your job?  I like to troubleshoot electronics issues.

What do you like the least about your job?  Administrative paperwork.

What do you like about working on a ship?  I’ve always enjoyed the general atmosphere of living on a ship.  With a good crew it is much like a large group home.  You can choose to get along with everyone, and if you can’t, the ship is large enough that you can generally get away from those you don’t see eye-to-eye with.

If budget was not an issue, what tool would you like me to invent that would make your job easier?  A cable stretcher.

Can you share with us one or two things about yourself that don’t have to do with work?  He lives in Norfolk, VA, speaks fluent Turkish, and like to play music (bass and tuba).  He also likes amateur radio.  His job lines up nicely with his hobbies – all except, perhaps, playing tuba.

So much of what TJ does to complete its mission relies on computers, sensors, and electronics.  Thank you, Justin, for all you do to keep the electronics aboard TJ ship shape!  Thank you for your service.

Personal Log

Safety is paramount.  Since discussing safety drills in my July 8, 2022 blog, I have done my homework.  I know what the signals mean, what to take, and where to go.  Today, we had three drills: fire, man overboard, and abandoned ship.  During abandoned ship drills, we need to take our personal flotation devices (PFDs), also known as life vests, and our Survival Immersion Suit which is lovingly called our “Gumby” suit.  We are expected to put on our suit in less than 2 minutes.  It is made from Neoprene to maximize flotation and hypothermia protection.  Being red, it can easily be seen in the water.  It also has a light and a place where we can blow up a head pillow.

A friend helped me practice putting on my Gumby suit.  I succeeded in putting it on I just over a minute!

  • Laura stands on deck and holds up the survival suit
  • Laura, wearing the survival suit, stands at the railing and waves at the camera. a life preserver is mounted on the rail next to her.
  • Laura poses in the survival suit

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting on a very important piece of equipment that we need when we want to lower or raise the anchor.

  • Dewey the beanie monkey sits on a large metal object with a chain
  • wider view shows Dewey the beanie monkey sitting on the anchor windlass
  • a view over the bow of the ship, with the anchor windlass in the center

A: Dewey is sitting on the anchor windlass.   According to Wikipedia, “An anchor windlass is a machine that restrains and manipulates the anchor chain on a boat, allowing the anchor to be raised and lowered by means of chain cable. A notched wheel engages the links of the chain or the rope.”  In other words, it is the machine that lowers and raises the anchor. 

a line diagram of an anchor windlass on a ship. the anchor windlass rolls and unrolls the chain that threads through the hawsepipe and connects to the anchor
This diagram shows the location of the hawsepipe.

I learned a lot new information today!  The steel pipe on each side of the windlass where the anchor chains pass through is called a hawsepipe.  I think because the chain goes up and down in the hawsepipe, a hawsepiper (*) refers to a ship’s officer who began his/her career in a non-traditional way.  They did not attend a maritime academy to earn an officer’s license.  They worked their way into their career like a chain travels through a hawsepipe.

(*) Remember this word. I will be using it in a future blog post.

illustration of a stockless anchor
Thomas Jefferson has a stockless anchor.

The anchor is usually very heavy and made of metal.  It is used to help keep the ship from drifting away from a fixed place due to wind or current.

TJ has a stockless anchor.  Watch the following video to see how a windlass and a stockless anchor work together to secure a ship. The chain really does a lot of work!

Lake Erie Fact:

Lake Erie’s primary inlet is the Detroit River which comes from Lake Huron.  Its natural outflow is via the Niagara River, which provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines near Niagara Falls.

Soon we will start sampling the bottom to see if we are traveling over mud, clay, sand, gravel, or shells (most likely to be zebra mussels).  This is important information for ships to know who want to anchor in the area. 

I have mixed feelings about this experience coming to an end.  I really miss my husband, friends, cats, home, garden, etc.  Just this morning, I made the comment to Chief Hydrographer in Charge, Erin, how this has been an incredible experience . . . especially for a nerd who is super excited about STEM content and promoting STEM careers.  With minimal preparation, I was plopped into this information-rich environment with local experts who were willing and excited to answer all my questions AND I had the time to ask more questions, follow research leads, process my learning through writing, and get a taste of living at sea.

We pull into the Port of Cleveland on July 22.  It will be hard to say, “Good-bye” to TJ, this extraordinary learning experience, and all my new friends.  It will be easy to greet my husband after 19 days being away.  It will also be time to move forward and plan on how I will share what I have learned with the students at Dalton Local Schools.

It’s been a full day.  Ta-Ta for now!

Heather O’Connell: Using a Sextant, Distilling Glacial Water and Kayaking to Icebergs, June 18, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Heather O’Connell

NOAA Ship Rainier

June 7 – 22, 2018

Mission: Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Seattle, Washington to Southeast, Alaska

Date: 6/18/18

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude and Longitude: 57°55’ N, 133 °33’ W, Sky Condition: Broken, Visibility: 10+ nautical miles, Wind Speed: 10 knots, Sea Level Pressure: 1023.5 millibars, Sea Water Temperature: 3.9°C, Air Temperature: Dry bulb: 15.0°C, Wet bulb: 12.0°C

Science and Technology Log

Using a Sextant

Greg Gahlinger, H.S.S.T., hydrographic senior survey technician, shared his knowledge of using a horizon sextant. He traveled to Hawaii from San Diego and back using this technology when he was in the navy. Utilizing his Cassens and Plath horizon sextant when there was an atypically sunny day in Tracy Arm allowed me to experience this celestial navigation tool. While the sextant is easy to use, the calculations for placement can be more involved.

A sextant is used for celestial navigation by finding the angle of a celestial body above the horizon. Originally, the graduated mark only measured sixty degrees, thus the derivation of the name. The angle between two points is determined with the help of two mirrors. One mirror is half silvered which allows light to pass through and this is the one used to focus on the horizon. The other mirror attached to the movable arm reflects the light of the object, such as the sun, and can be moved so that the light reflects off of the first mirror. A representation of the object, or sun, superimposed on the horizon is seen and the angle between the two objects is recorded. Angles can be measured to the nearest ten seconds using the Vernier adjustment and it is this precision that makes the sextant such a useful tool.  One degree is divided into sixty minutes or sixty nautical miles. Each degree is divided into sixty seconds.

Horizon Sextant
Horizon Sextant

To use a horizon sextant, you hold onto the arm piece and look for the reflection of the sun from the mirror and through a horizon reflection onto the scope or the eyepiece. There are several different filters that make it safe to view the reflection of the sun. After you adjust the index, the rotating part on the bottom of the sextant, you align the reflection of the disk of the sun onto the horizon. If there is no actual horizon, as was the case when we were in the fjord, then you can align the image of the sun onto a false horizon. Once the reflected sun is sitting on the horizon, you can swing the frame back and forth until the sun lies tangent to the horizon. From here, record the angular measurement and use a table to determine your position of latitude. If you have an accurate time, you can also determine longitude using another set of charts.

Taking a sight of the sun at local apparent noon with a Sextant
Taking a sight of the sun at local apparent noon with a Sextant

Salt Water Distillation

While in transit to our survey location, First Assistant Engineer Mike Riley shared the engine room with me. There is a control panel for all of the different components of the ship along with the electrical circuit board. Amongst all of the parts that contribute to making the ship function, I was interested in the two evaporators.

The two evaporators change saltwater into potable water in a desalination process. These two stage evaporators are filled with seawater that comes into the vessel via suction into sea chests. If the ship is going at full speed, 12.4 knots, which varies depending on currents and tides, the distillers will make about 500 gallons of freshwater an hour, or 3,000 gallons a day. Engine heat is used to boil the sea water for the evaporation. The water goes through a booster heater to make it even hotter before coming into the tanks. The distilled water comes from the tank next to the current generator in use.

Two Stage Evaporator
Two Stage Evaporator

The two stage distillers have a demister screen in the middle. There are about twenty metal plates with grooves between them located on both hemispheres of the spheroid shaped distiller. The plates are sealed and the metal groove space, or gaskets, between them is open. Jacket water, a mixture of coolant, or propylene glycol, and water, that is already at about one hundred and seventy degrees comes in and fills the metal plates. The jacket water is heated from the exhaust from the generator. It is further heated from going through a vacuum and turns into steam. Salt water from the salt chest comes into the space between the metal plates over the grooves.

Metal plates and gasket inside of evaporator
Metal plates and gasket inside of evaporator

The porous demister screen keeps salt water droplets from going above and the brine water collects at the bottom and goes out the ejector pump. Once the steam from the lower part of the tank heats the water and it enters the upper part of the tank, the water is cleansed and condenses on the plates. From here it goes to a tank where it is heated before being stored in another tank and then being allocated to the appropriate area. This water is used to cool the engine, flush the toilets and provided distilled drinking water while in transit.

So, currently, all on Rainier are consuming filtered artesian drinking water and showering in distilled glacier water. Ship Rainier has been consistently surpassing all expectations.


Personal Log

After dinner I decided to tag along with Able Seaman, or A.B., Dorian Curry, to kayak up close to some icebergs. Leaving the safety of the ship  docked by Point Asley, we headed towards Wood Spit Island. After about twenty minutes of paddling, I saw three distinctive spouts followed by some black dorsal fins surfacing to the northeast towards Sumdum Glacier. Orca whales were off in the distance. Soon these orca whales appeared closer and they were now about two hundred yards away. While the whales made the majestic sound of blowing bubbles in the water, I feared that they would approach the kayak. Putting the boats together in the hopes that these massive mammals would not think of us as prey seemed to be the logical thing to do.  It appeared that there was a mother and two juvenile killer whales.

Video Credit: Dorian Curry

This incredible opportunity to be so close to these creatures along with the terrifying reality that they may mistake me for a seal, proved to be an invigorating experience. The whales dove under and then once again appeared behind at a distance that was slightly too close for comfort in a kayak. At this point, I thought paddling away from these carnivorous predators would be the best approach. I paddled towards the smaller island south of Harbor Island and Round Islet, the place where the base station was set up just a few days earlier. After docking on the island shortly, I was grateful to be on shore post such a stimulating and intimidating experience.

Blue Iceberg
Blue Iceberg

Walking the kayaks over the beach and watching the channel where the Endicott Arm and Tracy Arm channels converged, proved to be a good strategy before paddling onward. A strong, circular current resulted from the two channels merging but was relatively safe due to the fact that it was ebb tide. After paddling strongly for a few minutes, smooth waters followed and I approached one of the most spectacular blue icebergs I have ever seen. The definition from all of the layers of different snowfalls that created this still existing piece of ice was truly amazing. Observing it from different angles overwhelmed me with the brilliance of this natural phenomenon. Next, I found myself paddling towards an iceberg with an eagle perched on it towards Sumdum Glacier.  Again, the different vantage points displayed various concentric circles and patterns of frozen ice accumulating over thousands of years. With only about an hour before sunset, the return journey to Rainier began and choosing to go to the west of Harbor Island to avoid the difficult channel of the now incoming tide made the return safe.


After almost four hours of paddling over a distance of about 8.4 nautical miles, or 9.6 miles, I found it difficult to use my upper body strength to ascend the ladder. Thanks to Airlie Pickett I safely stepped onto the Rainier and began to process this magnificent adventure that I had just embarked upon.

Did You Know?

Wind direction can be calculated by using a wind plotting board calculator. This dial allows you to rotate until the line matches up with the coarse bearing, then mark the wind speed on the clear dial with a grease marker, and then match this up with the angular measurement of the wind and mark this. Then, line up your two marks on a vertical line and this will provide the true wind direction.

Taylor Planz: Welcome to my Adventure! June 27, 2018

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Taylor Planz

Aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather

July 9 – 20, 2018

Mission: Arctic Access Hydrographic Survey

Geographic Area of Cruise: Point Hope, Alaska

Date: June 27, 2018

Weather Data from the House

Lat: 33.4146° N Long: 82.3126° W
Air Temperature: 23.3° C
Wind Speed: 6.1 Knots
Wind Direction: West
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy, 69% humidity

Personal Log

Welcome to my blog! My name is Taylor Planz, and I am so honored to be a Teacher at Sea this season! My passions in life besides education are my family, my cats, the mountains, and, of course, the ocean! In college I studied Oceanography and conducted undergraduate research in Chemical Oceanography where I explored phosphate dynamics in estuarine sediments. I went on multiple afternoon research cruises as part of my undergraduate degree, but I have never been on a ship overnight before now. I married my husband Derrick in 2014 on the beach, a childhood dream of mine. We got married on the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida.

My husband Derrick and I got married on the Gulf of Mexico in 2014.
My husband Derrick and I got married on the Gulf of Mexico in 2014.

In the fall I will be teaching Physical Science and Forensic Science to juniors and seniors at Harlem High School in rural Harlem, GA. In the past, I taught middle school science and this year will be my first year in a high school classroom. I am excited to teach a new age group this fall as there are many big decisions students must make during these critical high school years. I hope that my experience with NOAA Teacher at Sea will inspire at least one student to pursue science, and maybe even ocean science, as a career! There is so much out there to be explored in the ocean, atmosphere, landscape, and even space!

Alaska is about to be the 34th state I have visited in my life! I never really understood how far away it was until my flights for this trip were booked. After departing Atlanta, Georgia, I will land briefly in Portland, Oregon and then Anchorage, Alaska before arriving in Nome, Alaska. From there, I will board NOAA Ship Fairweather for Point Hope. The flights and layovers alone will take 16 hours! It is quite amazing how far the United States stretches!

Flight Map
My trip from Atlanta, Georgia to Nome, Alaska will span 3 flights and 16 hours.

NOAA Ship Fairweather will be my home for 12 days next month where I will help conduct a hydrographic survey of the Point Hope region in northwestern Alaska. We will be so far north that we may cross the Arctic Circle! Only 30% of this region’s ocean floor has ever been surveyed, and those surveys need updating because they took place in the 1960s. Updated and new surveys will be vital for the continued safe navigation of the ever-increasing maritime traffic, especially because the size of the vessels navigating the local waters continues to grow.

NOAA Ship Fairweather
NOAA Ship Fairweather – Photo Courtesy NOAA

Science and Technology Log

Most of the blog posts I write onboard NOAA Ship Fairweather will tie back to physical science, so today I would like to discuss some earth science! Point Hope, AK is located at 68.3478° N  latitude and 166.8081° W longitude. As you may know, Earth is divided into 90° of latitude per hemisphere, so 68° is pretty far north! In comparison, Harlem, GA is located at 33.4146° N latitude and 82.3126° W longitude.

What is significant about a region’s latitude? Latitude affects many things including sunlight distribution, seasons, and climate. For most of us in the United States, we know that summer days are long and winter days are short (in reference to hours of sunlight per 24 hour day). In Alaska the effect is much more dramatic! Parts of Alaska experience 24 hours of daylight around the summer solstice in June and 24 hours of darkness around the winter solstice in December. Not only are the daylight hours much different than what most of us experience, the concentration of sunlight that reaches Alaska is different too.

No matter which hemisphere you live in, as your latitude increases away from the equator (0° latitude) the amount of sunlight that reaches you decreases. The sun has to travel a longer distance through more of Earth’s atmosphere to reach you. As the light travels, it becomes more diffuse and less of it reaches its final destination: the Earth’s surface. The less direct sunlight makes those places feel cooler throughout the year than places like Ecuador, which is close to the equator and gets direct sunlight year round. Regions closer to the equator also do not get the long summer days and long winter nights because their daylight hours average around 12 hours per day year round.

It’s a common misconception to think that Earth is closer to the Sun in the summer and farther in the winter. If this were true, summer would start in June all over the world! Instead, the Earth’s tilt (at 23.5°) determines which hemisphere is pointing towards the Sun and that hemisphere experiences summer while the other experiences winter. As latitude increases, the seasonal effect becomes more dramatic. In other words, the difference between summer and winter is more and more noticeable. That is why warm, tropical places near the equator stay warm and tropical year round.

With all of this important science to consider, my 12 days in Alaska will definitely be an adjustment! I purchased an eye mask to help me to get restful sleep while the sun shines around me close to 24 hours per day. In addition, I will be packing plenty of layers to stay warm during the cool days and cold nights. In Georgia, most summer days reach temperatures in the mid-90s with high humidity. In contrast, Alaskan days on the water will reach 50s-60s on average.

Did You Know?

NOAA Ship Fairweather was built in Jacksonville, Florida in the mid-1960s, and its home port today is on the opposite side of the country in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Question of the Day

How many hours of daylight did you experience in your home state during the summer solstice on June 21? Nome, Alaska had 21 hours and 21 minutes of daylight!


Obed Fulcar, July 21, 2010

NOAA Teacher at Sea Obed Fulcar
NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson
July 27, 2010 – August 8, 2010

Mission:Summer Pollock survey III
Geograpical Area:Bering Sea, Alaska
Date: July 21, 2010

Weather from the Bridge:
Time: 0345 pm
Latitude: 57.23 degrees North
Longitude:173.33 degrees West
Wind: 12 knots
Direction: 257 degrees West
Sea Temperature: 8.5 degrees C
Air Temperature: 8.85 degrees C
Barometric Pressure: 1020.0 mb
Skies: Partly Sunny

Science and Technology Log:

Buddy Gould
Buddy Gould

Yesterday, Tuesday July 20, we finally left Dutch harbor, once all the delayed scientific equipment arrived. I was later told that it included some new and sophisticated technology to track and measure fish underwater. We climbed up to the “flying bridge” at the very top of the ship to see the view of Dutch harbor behind us and the open ocean ahead. After that we came down to the bridge where Acting Executive Officer XO Sarah Duncan, Ensign Amber Payne, and Buddy Gould from the Deck Department gave us a tour of the bridge. They explained that the panels of navigational instruments used to sail the ship included Radar screens, to detect any vessels or ships in the proximity, one for long range, and another for short range, showing any ships close by. The screens show the many readings from instruments on board such as wind speed (in knots), Wind direction (in degrees), Latitude, Longitude, and Air Pressure (in millibars).

Navigational Instruments
Navigational Instruments

Next we received a demonstration in how to chart a course using the Electronic chart. I was surprised to understand the navigational terminology, (Iguess my Basic Sailing class is paying off), such as true wind, leeward, aft, forward, et…
I asked if they still used paper Nautical Charts and the answer was yes, they use them to plot the course of the ship using pen, ruler, and compass. I was surprised to know that even with all this technology even though the ship course and navigation is done completely electronically, they still rely on pen and paper charts as back up! On the bridge were also two scientists fro the US Fish and Wildlife service working on Seabird research, as part of the Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Project, a multidsciplinary study that is looking at how climate change is affecting the ecosystem of the Bering Sea. liz and Marty were both working from the bridge with binoculars, observing and counting all seabirds within 300 meters from the ship. armed with a laptop computer connected to the ship’s navigational system they were able to count and input the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of every sighting of a seabird, and plot a GIS graph in real time. I found this to be really cool! We saw seabirds found on the Bering sea such as Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, Tufted/Horned Puffin, Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, and Thick-bill Murre.

Personal Log:
Today is Day 4 of the mission and so far I have done pretty well in terms of motion sickness. A calm sea has been a great factor and has allowed me to get adjusted to life at sea. I am surprised to find myself at home in my my bunk bed, and haven’t had any difficulties sleeping at all, though I do miss my bed. The long schedule from 0400 to 1600 (4pm) full of activities has been of help keeping me busy. The food is great thanks to Floyd the master cook with a variety of international food and home baked pastries. I was also impressed by the international collaboration in this mission, with two Russian scientists on board conducting research on the fisheries of the Bering Sea since part of the transects or line passess done by the Oscar Dyson cover Russian territorial waters as well.
New Vocabulary Words;
Nautical charts, Radar, Latitude, Longitude, GPS (Global Positioning Satelite), Leeward (opposite to wind), Forward (front of ship), Aft (back of ship)

Animals seen today:
Black-footed Albatross, Northern Fulmar, Tufted/Horned Puffin, Fork-tail storm Petrel, Thick-bill Murre
Bitacora Marina #2: Ayer martes, 20 de Julio finalmente zarpamos hacia alta mar. Los oficiales del Oscar Dyson nos dieron un tour del puente explicandonos los sofisticados instrumentos de navegacion electronica como Radares, sonar acustico, y sistema global de ubicacion por satelite (GPS).A pesar de tanta tecnologia, todavia se grafica el curso de la nave usando Cartas Marinas, compas y lapiz!Tambien me presentaron a una pareja de biologos del Servicio de Pesca y Caza de los EEUU, haciendo un conteo de las aves marinas del Estrecho de Bering, graficando en tiempo real cada observacion en un ordenador laptop usando tecnologia GIS, o sistema de informacion geografica.