Laura Grimm: What Floats Your Boat? July 17,  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 17,  2022

Weather Data from the Bridge

Latitude: 42ᵒ 13.30 N

Longitude: 080ᵒ 13.60 W

Sky Conditions: Broken

Visibility: 10+ miles

Wind Speed: 9.4 knots

Wind Direction: 089ᵒ E

Lake Temperature: 23.2 ᵒC

Wave Height: 1 ft.

Dry Bulb: 23.6 ᵒC

Wet Bulb: 20.9 ᵒC

Calculated Relative Humidity:76 %

Sunrise over Lake Erie; wake of ship visible extending toward horizon
Good morning from NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson!

Science and Technology Log

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson at sea
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson is one BIG ship.  Here is a list of some of its characteristics:

  • Length overall: 208 ft
  • Beam: 45 ft
  • Draft: 14 ft below the keel (15.6 ft below the transducer pod)
  • Registered gross tonnage/Displacement: 1767 tons
  • Cruising speed: 11 kts
  • Survey Speed: 10 kts
  • Cruising range: 19,200 NM, 45 days
  • Authorized Officers and Crew: 34
  • Scientific Berths: 4 (They can take up to 4 visiting scientists.)

Follow this link for more information about NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

One thing not on this list is that currently, TJ is carrying four other boats + 6 life rafts aboard.  Of the boats aboard, two are the survey launches (mentioned in a previous blog), one is a Fast Rescue Boat (FRB) that is very fast and maneuverable (more about the FRBs in a future post), and the last is a work boat affectionately called 1717.  It is an inflatable boat with a ridged hull.  It is frequently used to do preservation work on the hull and inspect areas for future work.

Today, the crew used the 1717 to do a crew transfer to Erie, PA.  A crane (not a davit) is used to move this boat on and off the ship.

  • Crewmembers wearing hard hats stand in position around the boat. a crane hook lowers into view.
  • crewmembers secure hook to boat with harness attaching at four points
  • crewmembers steady boat as crane lifts it off the deck
  • crewmembers stand back as crane lifts boat above everyone's heads
  • crane swinging boat over the fantail
  • view of the boat suspended over the water
  • view of the boat suspended over the water, lowering
  • boat suspended over the water by the crane
  • boat being lowered to the water's surface
  • view of boat on water's surface, still attached to crane hook
  • overhead view of the boat, now with three crewmwmbers aboard

Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson runs the crane and Chief Boatswain (CB) Pooser supervises getting the 1717 work boat in and out of the water.

Able Bodied Seaman Thompson and Chief Boatswain Pooser pose for a photo on deck. They are wearing blue hardhats.
AB Thompson & CB Pooser get it done!
AB Thompson operating the crane with various levers
The crane can lift 3800 lbs when it is extended 50 feet.  Running this powerful piece of machinery is second nature for Able Bodied Seaman (AB) Thompson.

There are many different types of ships.  People have been using ships for a long time! 

According to Britannica Kids,

“People use different types of ships for many different purposes. Some of the main types are trade ships, warships, industrial ships, and pleasure vessels, or cruise ships.

“Trade ships carry different types of cargo. Container ships carry cargo packaged in large containers. General cargo ships carry lumber, farm products, and other goods that are hard to ship in containers. Bulk ships carry coal, grains, and other loose cargo. Tankers carry oil and other liquid cargo. Refrigerated ships, or reefers, carry meat, fish, and other products that need to stay cold.

“Navies use several different kinds of warships. The largest are aircraft carriers. A carrier has a large flat surface called a flight deck that airplanes can use for takeoffs and landings. Other types of military ships include cruisers, destroyers, and submarines.

“Industrial ships are sometimes called factory ships. Some industrial ships are oil rigs. They have big machinery that pumps oil from the ocean floor. Another type of factory ship processes fish that the crew catches at sea.

“Before airplanes made long-distance travel quick and easy, people traveled in ships called ocean liners. Ocean liners had dining rooms and cabins where guests could sleep. Today this type of passenger ship is called a cruise ship. Cruise ships carry tourists and vacationers to seaside locations around the world. Cruise ships often have swimming pools, shopping malls, and live entertainment.”

A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.
A cargo ship loaded with freight containers sails toward its destination.

History of Ships

From Britannica Kids:

“In early times people moved ships with oars. Many early ships also used the wind to move across the seas. These ships had sails—large, raised pieces of cloth that caught the wind. Ancient Egyptian warships had at least 40 oars and a single sail. The powerful longships of the Vikings also had oars and one sail.

“By the 1400s European ships had several sails. Sailing ships known as galleons carried large guns along their sides for making war. In the 1800s long, slim ships called clippers also had several sails. Clippers traveled faster than any ship before.

“Ships were made mainly of wood until the middle of the 1800s. At that time iron ships began to replace wooden ones. Steam-powered engines also began to replace sails.

Today most ships are made of steel or other modern materials. They have internal-combustion engines that run on diesel fuel or gas. Some modern ships run on nuclear power.”

Human-Interest Poll of the Crew

"What were the highest seas you have ever experienced? (Note to self: stay out of the Bering Sea!) 65ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 40+ ft in the Bering Sea, AK; 25 to 30 ft in the South China Sea; 20 to 30 ft approximately 2100 nm SE of Virginia; 20-25 ft in the Gulf of Alaska in January; 19 ft somewhere off the East Coast around North Carolina; 1+ ft off the coast of Presque Isle"
Crew’s responses to “What were the highest seas you have ever experienced?”

Personal Log – Christmas in July!

The U.S. Postal Service does not have an official moto.  If it did, it could be, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  What about Santa Claus?  He seems to deliver packages all over the world no matter the distance or weather!

Today, we had a delivery from a type of “Santa”.  At least that is what it felt like!  The U.S. Coast Guard delivered a package directly to our ship this afternoon. 

illustration of Santa on a stand up paddleboard, with gifts
Here comes Santa! He is bringing a very important package for our engineering department!

Our engineering department is very happy.  Maybe now they have what they need to fix one of our davits.  If the davits can be fixed, we will be able to deploy a launch (small survey boat) to assist with the survey mission.

U.S. coast guard boat approaches
Here comes the U.S. Coast Guard!
view Coast Guard members aboard the Coast Guard boat; one holds a box under his left arm
Package delivery!
Coast Guard vessel departing
Thank you very much!  See you later!

It was fun to have some visitors, even if they just stayed for a few minutes.

For the Little Dawgs . . .

Q: Where is Dewey?  Hint: He is sitting is a very important chair.  But which chair?

Dewey the beanie monkey looking over the back of a swivel chair
Peak ‘a Boo, Dewey!
Dewey the beanie monkey sitting in a swivel chair, behind four tall levers, on deck
There are some clues in this picture!
a crewmember in a blue hard hat stands in front of the swivel chair, operating the crane as it carries a boat back on board NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson
Can you find the chair in this picture?

Dewey is sitting in the chair that AB Thompson sits in to control the crane that lifts the boat in and out of the water.

Did you know . . .

Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes?  It is the eleventh-largest lake in the whole world!

As I sign off, I will leave you with this thought: There are so many examples of career opportunities on Thomas Jefferson.  Do you like water?  Ships?  Machines?  Technology?  Cooking?  If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, a career with NOAA may be for you!  Think about it!

Mary Cook, December 16, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 16, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°44.39’S, Longitude 86°20.07’ W
Time: 8:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Relative Humidity (percent) 72.50
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.34
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.78
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.06
Wind Direction (degrees) 97.86
Wind Speed (knots) 20.90
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 10.31

Question of the Day

When is the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere?

Positive Quote of the Day

“Most of us miss out on life’s big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel. Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. Hot soup. A glorious sunset” -Anonymous

Science and Technology Log

Yesterday was probably the last RHIB ride I’ll ever get to go on and last night at midnight, we left the Stratus 5 buoy all alone moored to the Pacific Ocean floor. I felt a little wistful.

So far today has been a quiet day. We’re steaming toward the San Felix islands. We’ve started watch duty again. Alvaro Vera and I have watch duty together from 8:00 am to noon and from 8:00 pm to midnight. This evening we’ll do another CTD cast. All the WHOI guys are dismantling the old buoy and packing up all the components to be sent back to Woods Hole. I finally got tons of email from my students and many of them are tracking the adopted drifting buoy which makes me proud of them. It seems I’ve spent half the day answering them. I’ve enjoyed it though. It’s good to have connection across the miles. We came out from under the stratus cloud deck and what a beautiful day! People are sitting out on the fantail soaking in the sun and warmth.

Personal Log

I’ve just been out on the ship’s bow peering over the edge to watch the ship slice through the water. It’s mesmerizing and clears my mind of thoughts. I think it’s like meditating. It’s especially calming to just look and listen and forget everything else. I see the many hues of blue in the water. I hear the waves splashing and the hum of the ship’s engine. The salty air feels clean in my lungs. Even the greens of the slimy algae growth just below the water line add another dimension to the sights and sounds of life at sea.

With a clear mind and clean lungs,

Until tomorrow,


Mary Cook, December 15, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 15, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°43.66’S, Longitude 85°33.13’W
Time: 10:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 132.47
Relative Humidity (percent) 66.35
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.44
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.41
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1016.60
Wind Speed (knots) 15.05
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 7.54

Question of the Day

For what purpose are the lights in the hallways colored red at night?

Positive Quote for the Day

“The life that conquers is the life that moves with a steady resolution and persistence toward a predetermined goal. Those who succeed are those who have thoroughly learned the immense importance of plan in life, and the tragic brevity of time.” W.J. Davison

Science and Technology Log

We had another early morning RHIB ride! The purpose was to visually inspect the newly deployed Stratus 5 buoy. It looked so small out there in the choppy ocean water. The buoy was found to be in good working condition with a minor break in a railing that surrounds the weather instruments that sit atop the buoy. The break will have no bearing on the workings of the instruments so all was approved by Jeff Lord, the WHOI engineering technician. Then we took another wild ride back to the mother ship!

I think today is a good day to show you pictures of the inside of the ship and talk about ship life. Here are some of my impressions of the ship interior. The hallways are narrow and if two people meet, one must step aside. The doors seem to weigh two tons and if one slammed on your fingers it would crush them off.

You must step up and over as you cross the threshold of a doorway. It’s built up to prevent water from getting into every room if there’s a flood. In the stateroom (bedroom), the bunk beds are comfortable but there’s no room to sit up in bed. The round windows are called portholes. The toilet (called the head) has no lid. The toilet is flushed by pressing a button then a powerful vacuum suctions everything down! There are handles to hold on to in the shower. The shower room doors have huge, strong magnets that hold them open. All the drawers and cabinets have latches so they won’t swing open when the ship moves around. Everything is tied down or secured in some fashion. There are no wheels on the office chairs. At night the hallway lights are turned to red instead of white. The food is outstanding. We eat three meals a day plus snacks are available 24 hours a day. There’s an exercise room and a laundry room and a TV room where two movies are shown each evening. There’s a library, too. It seems that computers are in every nook and cranny. There’s lots of equipment onboard like scientific instruments and big machinery. They make water on the ship. I’ll explain that on another day.

Diane, Bruce and I collaborated on the children’s book again today. Things are coming together nicely.

At “6:00 Science on the Fantail” we interview the Chief Scientist, Dr. Robert Weller of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He gave us the reasons for placing the Stratus 5 buoy at this particular location in the Pacific Ocean. Bob said that there needs to be greater understanding of air-sea interactions for scientists to make better models and predictions of weather and climate patterns. The area just off the coast of Chile is one that has had minimal data collected in past years. Plus, it is an area that has a constant stratus cloud deck which isn’t clearly understood. That’s why the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Office of Climate Observation have partnered to fund the Stratus program for, possibly, as long as 15 years. Now, in its fifth year, the Stratus program has collected very useful data that has helped in better understanding the eastern Pacific Ocean and the weather that originates there. Dr. Weller was also very pleased with the work effort and cooperation between the WHOI scientists, the crew, and the Chilean scientists and students. It took a well organized work effort to get it all done. Now the WHOI scientists and engineers are taking the data collected from last year’s buoy and beginning the evaluation process.

Personal Log

I have to tell you about the exercise room. Last night, Diane invited me to go down for a workout. Diane’s a runner and so she goes to workout every evening. I’d never really taken a good look in there, except to see several pieces of equipment because I hadn’t brought any clothes or shoes appropriate for working out. So, I thought, why not? I need to exercise. So I put on my trusty, old clunky hiking boots and headed down to the exercise room. When I opened the door there was a red and black stairway leading down toward a yellow grate. Most of the exercise equipment was sitting on the grate. The room was dimly lit and the air was cool. I could hear the humming of fans. There was one gray door that had a claxon sounding off from within. I considered opening it but changed my mind. I saw a red “Danger High Voltage” sign and about ten huge carbon dioxide tanks sitting upright in the corner. There were some blinking lights coming from a partially opened doorway leading into another room. Running along the ceiling and walls were cables and pipes. I knew I was alone so I looked around to survey which machine I’d try first. Over in the far corner were rows of orange-colored coveralls hanging from the ceiling by their hoods with their arms outstretched. All the orange suits were moving with the swaying of the ship. It appeared as though people were inside the suits and just hanging in mid-air! I stopped, and looked around with an eerie thought. I felt like I was in an episode of Star Trek where they have rooms filled with extra worker-drones waiting to be activated during times of crisis. OK. Maybe I have been on this ship too long. But it’s a great place for the imagination to run wild. Don’t you think?

Until tomorrow,


Mary Cook, December 12, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 12, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°46.24’S, Longitude 85°30.89’W
7:00 am

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degrees) 145.06
Relative Humidity (percent) 80.68
Air Temperature (Celsius) 19.22
Water Temperature (Celsius) 19.32
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.64
Wind (knots) 13.76
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 6.53

Question of the Day

Why are the water and the air temperatures nearly the same?

Positive Quote for the Day

Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world. Albert Einstein, Evolution of Physics

Science and Technology Log

Today’s the big day! The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists will begin bringing the old Stratus 4 buoy onboard the RONALD H. BROWN. They’ve enlisted the help of just about everyone on the ship. At 6:00 this morning, the sky was dark blue and overcast. As daylight began to creep in, we all gathered in the main lab to prepare for the day’s work. First of all, the scientists triggered the acoustic release at the bottom of the ocean which is about 4400 meters deep. This released the buoy and array of instruments underneath it from the anchor. The 9000 pound anchor was left on the ocean floor. Then we waited.

And waited. And waited some more. It was about 45 minutes in all. We were waiting for the floats to come to the surface. The floats are big glass balls covered in yellow plastic hulls. They’re about the size of a medicine ball. And they are heavy, too. Wouldn’t you think a float would be lightweight? After the floats popped up out of the water, David, Phil, Jason and I went out on the RHIB to hook onto them and tow them to the ship. Once again the RHIB ride was awesome!

Pulling the floats onto the ship began the whole process of reeling in the old Stratus 4 mooring. This took all day. First they reeled in all the cable connecting the surface buoy to the anchor. At the beginning the buoy was a little speck near the horizon but as the cable got shorter, the buoy got closer and bigger until it was just behind the ship. That alone took several hours. When the instruments began coming in, we had to log and photograph each one. Then another RHIB ride was in order!

This was the RHIB ride of my life! Jeff, Diane, Jason, Phil and I went barreling across the swells and hit a wave that bounced Jason into midair for a second or two! I was hanging on with all my might and waves came over the edge right into my face. When we arrived at the buoy the guys hooked onto it and we towed it back to the ship. Then the crew on the ship hauled it aboard with a crane. While they were hauling it in we stayed out in the RHIB and pitched and rolled. That’s when I started to feel a little bit green. Fortunately, we were soon retrieved but on the starboard side of the ship…home, sweet home. We then watched the final removal of subsurface instrumentation. Wow! The Stratus 4 buoy was covered in amazing barnacles! Big ones and little ones. Long-necked barnacles are bizarre looking creatures. They attach themselves to anything in the water, just like suction cups. It’s like they’re stuck on with Super Glue. Once everything and everyone was safely onboard we had a barnacle scraping party. All available hands scraped those little rascals off and threw them back into the ocean. It was a mess but with everyone pitching in things got nicely cleaned. Tomorrow, we get everything ready for the deployment of the new and improved Stratus 5 buoy!

Personal Log

I am so tired.

Until tomorrow,


Mary Cook, December 11, 2004

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: December 11, 2004

Location: Latitude 19°44.43’ S, Longitude 85°32.17’ W
9:30 pm

Weather Data from the Bridge
Wind Direction (degree) 134.18
Relative Humidity (percent) 74.66
Temperature (Celsius) 19.46
Air Pressure (Millibars) 1014.06
Wind Speed (knots) 15.04
Wind Speed (meters/sec) 8.14

Question of the Day

When we send the Styrofoam cups down to 3000 meters in the ocean, what will happen to them and why?

Positive Thought of the Day

“I think laughter may be a form of courage. As humans we sometimes stand tall and look into the sun and laugh, and I think we are never more brave than when we do that.” Linda Ellerbee

Science and Technology Log

This morning we arrived at the Stratus 4 buoy site! The buoy looked so small bobbing out there all alone on the ocean. David Owen took Jeff Lord, Phil Pokorski and I for a boat ride in the RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat). The RHIB is an orange raft-looking motor boat. The RHIB is raised and lowered into the water on a lever lifting device called a small boat launch. We went out to make a quick inspection and to see if the temperature sensors were working. Jeff said it all looked pretty good and there weren’t as many barnacles as he’d expected. He took pictures then we returned to the ship. Today, all the scientists are quietly working on inter-comparison testing with the ship’s sensors and the buoy.

At “6:00 Science in the Main Lab”, we interviewed Jason Smith, an engineering technician for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Jason explained the instrumentation that will be attached to the bottom of the Stratus 5 moored buoy. The first instrument is a temperature sensor, which is an electronic device. It has a resistance that changes with temperature and that resistance can be measured with an electronic circuit. These instruments can also measure conductivity which is an indicator of salinity. In addition, there are various styles of current meters used. Some are mechanical and some use acoustics. All these instruments will be suspended at different depths with most of them concentrated from the surface down to 300 meters. One problem that they encounter is marine animals adhering to the instruments and fouling up their functions. Different types and colors of anti-fouling paints are being tested to see which one inhibits the marine life from sticking to the machinery. Jason emphasized that it was very important to develop an anti-fouling paint that is both environmentally safe and keeps the marine life from setting up housekeeping on the instruments.

This evening, Diane and I sat down to begin writing the children’s book about the cruise. Don’t let anyone ever tell you this is easy. But we’re progressing nicely and I can see an interesting book emerging.

Personal Log

Well, the last thing my mentor, Diane, said to me last night was “Tomorrow will be a more relaxing day”. So I thought, “I’ll sleep in and take my sweet time getting out and about in the morning.” You know, do some of those personal hygiene things we often take for granted like blowing our hair dry and trimming our toenails.

And so there I am peacefully sleeping like a baby being rocked when Diane comes in and says, “Mary, Bob said the RHIB is leaving in about 30 minutes!” At first, I thought I was dreaming, but then I realized, “This is for real!” Anyway, I jumped up and threw on some clothes and ran out to the small boat launch deck. Sure enough, they were getting ready to leave. I made it in just the nick of time! Yeah! Diane and Bob had my life vest, hard hat and radio ready. I grabbed them and climbed in.

The RHIB ride was awesome! It’s funny how the ocean swells look a whole lot bigger when you’re in a little boat than from the ship’s deck. As the boat zipped up and down across the surface, I was hanging on for dear life and ocean spray was splashing me in the face and running down my back to make a puddle right where I was seated. The buoy would disappear then reappear time and again.

Even in all this excitement and adrenaline rush, my mind was thinking about those early explorers like the Polynesians who launched out in small thatched boats. For a moment, I felt a cosmic connection across time and cultures. And then it hit me, “What were they thinking? This is nuts!” I mean they had to be daring and bold of personage to cast their lives onto the rolling, endless waters in search of the unknown. Then, I gazed back on the RONALD H. BROWN, my temporary home, floating like a little toy ship in a great big tub. I like that ship. It’s like my whole universe for the next 2.5 weeks. Then what happens? My universe will disappear and everyone will go to their own real world lives. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that thought.

After we did a visual inspection of the buoy, we posed for pictures and zoomed back to the mother ship. As David pulled alongside the ship, Phil and Jeff grabbed the ropes and hooked us up to the small boat launch, then, the operator lifted the RHIB aboard. We banged against the boat launch so hard it knocked my hat off! It went tumbling around in the bottom of the RHIB. I felt like one of those persons who loses their hat in the wind and keeps chasing after it.

We were all wet but with great big smiles on our faces. Riding the RHIB was as good as the Zippin’ Pippin’ rollercoaster in Libertyland! I’m ready to go again!

Until tomorrow,


Debra Brice, November 14, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Debra Brice
Onboard R/V Roger Revelle
November 11-25, 2003

Mission: Ocean Observation
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: November 14, 2003

Data from the Bridge

1.  141700Z Nov 03
2.  Position: LAT: 14-54.6’S, LONG: 084-55.0’W
3.  Course: 180-T
4.  Speed: 12.2 Kts
5.  Distance: 293.6 NM
6.  Steaming Time: 24H 00M
7.  Station Time:  00H 00M
8.  Fuel: 4245 GAL
9.  Sky: OvrCst
10. Wind: 120-T, 17 Kts
11. Sea: 120-T, 2-3 Ft
12. Swell: 140-T, 3-5 Ft
13. Barometer: 1016.2 mb
14. Temperature: Air: 21.5 C, Sea 19.0 C
15. Equipment Status: NORMAL
16. Comments: None.

Science and Technology Log

We are still underway, about 800 miles off the coast of Peru.  We will arrive at the Woods Hole Stratus Buoy tomorrow at about noon.  We will be taking out a small boat ( zodiac or the RHIB) to look it over before we try to bring it in.  It is heavily instrumented and will be covered in many animals.  They will have to be cleaned off and I will enjoy preserving and identifying some of them.  I found a copy of my old invertebrate zoology book onboard so this should be worth several hours of entertainment for me.  Dr. Weller’s group will be removing the instruments in preparation for taking the buoy out of the water and loading it onboard.  Then we will spend another day deploying the new Stratus Buoy.  The old one will be shipped back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for Arica, Chile.

Most of the day we were deploying sea surface drifters and several radiosondes for the ETL group.  Tomorrow Jason Tomlinson, from Texas A&M will be taking some aerosol samples for his research.  I will be interviewing the Chief Engineer, Paul Maurice and touring the engine room of the REVELLE. Radiosondes are used to collect data on atmospheric temperature, humidity, pressure and uses onboard GPS for wind direction and windspeed from the surface up to the lowest part of the Stratusphere.  I have put up some pictures of the radiosondes.  My e-mails and internet access are being made possible by the ROADnet system that is installed here on the R/V REVELLE.  We have “live” cameras off the fantail of the boat and in the main lab as well as telphone and internet capabilities due to ROADnet.  The Visualization Center at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, located at the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics ( IGPP),houses the state of the art system  that allows scientists to take enormous data sets, such as earthquake activity east of San Diego, the morphology of the global seafloor, or the topography of Mars and illustrate them on a large screen in 3 dimensions.  One new project taking advantage of the Visualization’s data management capabilities is termed ROADnet ( Real time Observatories, Applications, and Data Management Network). ROADnet sensors, located throughout the world and on Scripp’s largest ship, the Roger Revelle, deliver real-time data to the center for nearly instantaneous review by scientists on campus.  I will be using ROADnet to do a broadcast to a geography class next week at San Marcos HIgh School in San Marcos, California.  The class of teacher Larry Osen will be able to see me and the scientists on the Revelle as we deploy a CTD as it is happening and ask questions of the scientists.  This system is presently being installed on Scripps other large ship the R/V MELVILLE.  This is an exciting example of how technological innovations help advance scientific understanding of the oceans.

Personal Log

I’m a little disoriented on my times as I am doing the 12am to 4am watch.  I get up a little later that I normally would, about 10:30am.  Tomorrow we will come up on the buoy so I need to be up earlier enough to participate.  We will be filming and doing interviews during the recovery.  Besides if I get up earlier enough they might let me go out in the zodiac!  I will ride on any boat that floats, so this is too good an opportunity to miss.  Since the buoy has been out at sea for a year it will be covered in animals and surrounded by fish.  Anything that floats in the open ocean becomes a little miniature ecosystem,  So there will be some fishing and lots to see.  We will also being doing our first CTD cast tomorrow and I will have some pictures and descriptions of what a CTD is and why we are deploying it ( actually some of us are deploying it just to shrink our decorated styrofoam cups!)  I will be explaining that tomorrow too.  What oceanographers do for entertainment on long voyages.  So tune in tomorrow for some fun at sea!


Nancy Lewis, September 23, 2003

Nancy Lewis
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
September 15 – 27, 2003

Mission: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)/TRITON
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: September 23, 2003

Sunrise:  0608
Sunset:   1815

9/22/03~2330:  6 N CTD

0615:  7N CTD

1300:  8N CTD

2000:  Repair 9 N Buoy W/ CTD

Weather Observation Log

Latitude:  7 Degrees, 25.3’ N
Longitude:  140 degrees, 8.0 W
Visibility:  12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  170 degrees
Wind speed:  10 knots
Sea wave height:  3-4 feet
Swell wave height:  4-6 feet
Sea water temperature:  28.5 degrees C
Dry bulb pressure:  30.4 degrees C
Wet bulb pressure:  26.3 degrees C
Cloud cover:  5/8, Altocumulus, cirrus
Air Tempterature:  30.4 degrees C

Science and Technology Log

Previously, I explained that there is other scientific work being done on this cruise.  One such project is CO2 and pH analysis.  Previous to this, NOAA has been using water samples taken from the CTD, and these samples only come from particular depths, generally every 200 meters.  The scientists from the University of South Florida have brought along devices which they are testing in order to work out the “bugs”, from these prototypes.  They are called SEAS systems, and are lowered in the water column to a depth of 300 meters at a rate of 6 meters per minute to collect pH profile continuously.  The advantage of the SEAS system over taking samples from the CTD is that they get a continuous data, not just data from the specific depths tested by the CTD.  The data they produce is therefore much more complete and accurate.

In my interview with Dr. Renate Bernstein I asked the question:  “Is your work related to studies of global warming?”  Her answer was: “absolutely. “  The SEAS system is analyzing dissolved CO2 in the ocean water. Normally, the ocean is considered to be a “sink” for CO2 in the atmosphere.  Cold water has the capacity to dissolve more CO2 from the atmosphere than hot water.  The analogy would be to think of the carbon dioxide in a carbonated soda.  If you shake up a cold drink,  it doesn’t fizz as much.  If you do the same thing with a warm soda,  it will fizz up much more.

How does dissolved CO2 relate to the pH of the ocean?  The  carbon dioxide combines with water (H20) molecules in the ocean to produce carbonic acid, which has a higher acidity.  Thus water with more dissolved CO2 would have a higher pH value.

Dr. Bernstein explained that there are areas, however, where the ocean is liberating CO2. She said that was what they were seeing from the data they’ve collected.  The water near the equator where cold water upwelling occurs were the places where CO2 was being diffused into the atmosphere.  According to Dr. Bernstein, what they were doing on board this vessel was truly “cutting edge science” being done nowhere else in the world.  It has been exciting to me and a great honor to share with you some of  the science being done on board the KA’IMIMOANA.

Personal Log

For the first time on this cruise,  the weather has become hot and humid.  It was not a pleasant day to be out on the deck of the ship, plus they were power washing the deck and acid cleaning the sides of the vessel.  Last night I was out with my Planosphere, trying to identify some constellations, but the clouds had started, so visibility was not that good.  I did see Sagittarius, which looks like a teapot.  Randy, the Survey Tech in charge of the CTD, showed me a computer program that I want to get called “Starry Night”.  You put in your location and the time and date, and it shows the night sky and superimposes images over the constellations:  very cool!

I almost missed the biggest event of the day, and for me, of this, cruise.  John Kermond had told me that the buoy repair was cancelled, so there wouldn’t be a last RHIB ride out to the buoy.  I had already prepared for bed, when there came a knock at the door. “ Hurry up,  they’re going on the RHIB!” I quickly scrambled on some clothes and ran up to the deck, while Doc hunted up a hard hat and life jacket for me.  They strapped a Cyalume light onto my vest, John gave me a flashlight, and we were off.  I felt a little like what it must have been like on the Titanic, getting into lifeboats in the inky blackness.  We roared off, using a powerful light to see the buoy.  The water around the buoy was teeming with large fish, mostly mahi.

This buoy had been damaged and Patrick Ahearn, the Chief Scientist would be making the necessary repairs.  Sometimes, they say, other ships hit the buoy, or fishing boats tie up to the buoy.  This was the first time the sea had been relatively calm, and it seemed a good thing, since higher seas would make a repair job much more difficult, like working on a bobbing cork.  Patrick swung out onto the buoy, follwed by Nicole Colasacco, the Field Operations Officer who would assist him.

In the meantime,  we sped back to the KA to pick up replacement instruments, a new rain gauge, a new anemometer, and a new temperature sensor.  The ship seemed a long way off, but all of its running lights were on.  I thought about how it must have felt for Patrick and Nicole to be all alone in the dark on that buoy while we went back to the ship.

As soon as we returned with the instruments,  Jimbo set out fishing lines and we bagan to troll.  We spent a good 45 minutes circling the buoy, but got nary a bite.  Maybe it just wasn’t feeding time.  As our eyes got our night vision, we could see the sparkling of bioluminescent creatures in the water all around the boat.  The skies were cloudy, so stargazing was out, and eventually it began to rain.

Finally, they were finished with the repair job, and it was my turn to get out onto the buoy.  I already knew that the donut would be slimy and slippery, and it was.  There are several platforms, though, that afford good footing inside the bars of the instrument scaffold.  By the time I was up on the buoy, the swells had picked up a little, and actually, there was a terrific current pulling on the buoy.  It was a little like riding a bucking bronco!

We were out on the buoy operation until well past 11 last night, but I was so glad I hadn’t missed my last chance to get on one of the buoys.  The fish weren’t biting, so we came away empty  handed, but they’ll be other fishing opportunities as we start the long transit back to Honolulu.  Since we have to go right past South Point on the island of Hawaii, there is a chance that students from my school may get to see us, and I’ll keep you posted on exactly when that will be.

Question of the Day:  What is the chemical formula for carbonic acid?

Aloha from the KA!

Nancy Lewis

Nancy Lewis, September 17, 2003

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Nancy Lewis
Onboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana
September 15 – 27, 2003

Mission: Tropical Atmosphere Ocean (TAO)/TRITON
Geographical Area: Western Pacific
Date: September 17, 2003

Plan of the Day:

0900:    Recover/Deploy 5 S 140 W Buoy
CTD after anchor drop
AOML Drifter after buoy flyby

Weather Observation Log:  0100

Latitude:  5 degrees, 2′ S
Longitude:  139 degrees, 54.7′ W
Visibility:  12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction:  090 Degrees
Wind speed:  21 knots (kts)
Sea wave height:  4-6 feet
Swell wave height:  7-9 feet
Sea water temperature:  26.8 degrees C
Sea level pressure:  1012.7  mb.
Dry bulb temperature:  27.1 degrees C
Wet bulb temperature:  23.8 degrees C
Cloud cover:   2/8 Cumulus

Science and Technology Log

The primary mission of the KA’IMIMOANA is to service and maintain the TAO/Triton array of weather buoys strung out along the equatorial Pacific Ocean. TAO stands for Tropical Atmosphere Ocean and Triton is the name of the Japanese component of the array.  These buoys are jointly maintained by Japan and the U.S.  in an effort to better understand how the oceans affect climate and weather, especially in the regions close to the Equator.

Today I was able to observe first hand the entire operation of retrieving and deploying what used to be called the Atlas buoy.  They are now designated as TAO buoys. These buoys are placed at strategic points north, south and on the Equator.  The first leg of this mission began in Honolulu on August 21, 2003.  Honolulu is the home base port for the KA’IMIMOANA, which I hope you all know means “ocean seeker” in Hawaiian.

TAO buoys are jointly maintained by Japan and the U.S. in an effort to better understand how the oceans affect climate and weather, especially in the regions close to the Equator.

Tetsuro Isono from JAMSTEC (Japan Marine Science and Technology Center) was on board as part of the Teacher at Sea program for the first leg from Honolulu to Nuku Hiva.  You can access his broadcasts on the NOAA Teacher at Sea website.  Although he was speaking Japanese, an English translation can be printed out for you to follow. In his broadcasts, Tetsuro interviews many of the scientists on board and introduces much of the equipment and buoys that are used in this project.  It would be very helpful for you to view these broadcasts in order to get a working background for the buoys and their operations, but I will also be giving explanations during the project.

The first thing in retrieving the buoy is that is that it is sighted from the bridge of the ship. These are moored buoys, so they remain in position where they are placed. Once the buoy is sighted, the RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) is lowered from the ship, and a crew is sent out to visually inspect and to remove some of the instruments that would be damaged during the retrieval process.  The anemometer, rain gauge, and Patrick Ahearn, the Chief Scientist and one other “volunteer”.  The buoys are usually very slimy and slippery having been out in the ocean for a period of several months, so climbing on the buoy can be a dangerous affair, especially if there are significant waves and swells.

lowering the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB)

One of my students has asked the question:  “What information is gathered by the buoys?” The buoys gather data constantly on the following:  wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, rainfall, downwelling shortwave radiation, downwelling longwave radiation, barometric pressure, sea surface and subsurface temperature, salinity, water pressure, and ocean currents.  You can find more details about the instruments for measuring these variables at this website:  The data is transmitted via NOAA polar satellites and is actually picked up by computers located on Wallops Island.  This information is used by scientists all over the world who are studying the Pacific Ocean and its relationship to weather and climate, particularly the El Nino and its opposite La Nina.  I will be talking more about these as the cruise progresses.

After the buoy was retrieved, a replacement buoy was deployed.  I will be posting pictures on the website of the marine life growing on the bottom of the buoy, and it must be cleaned, painted and otherwise serviced before it is used again.  The process of retrieving and deploying a new buoy takes approximately 8 hours, as many meters of cable must be spooled on board, and it is amazing to watch this crew work together to bring it all off.  It is a well orchestrated event that I will do more to explain as we go along.

Lewis retrieved buoy
The retrieved buoy must be cleaned, painted and otherwise serviced before it can be used again.

Personal Log

Today was a full day indeed for me, and thankfully I was over my initial seasickness.  The opening act of the morning was my first ride in the RHIB to go out to the buoy.  You can see from the weather observations that it was by no means calm seas, so the ride out to the buoy was pretty exciting.

I was then put to work helping to spool the Nilspin cable which attaches the mooring to the buoy.  The spooling operation takes a long time, and even the XO (Executive Officer) joins in to help.  I observed the entire retrieval and deployment operation, and it basically took the whole day.

After dinner, I began training with Randy Ramey, the Survey Technician in charge of the CTD’s.  I was actually involved in every aspect of the operation under Randy’s expert guidance and Tom Nolan, the scientist from NASA was also on hand.  I will save an explanation of the CTD for another day, but this instrument is really fascinating to me.

It has been a long and exciting day, but very satisfying. I am still learning my way around the ship and getting used to the shipboard schedule  I would like to invite anyone who is looking at the website to e-mail your questions to me, which I can include the answer to on my daily logs. Before I close, let me pose a question for you: What is the Doppler effect?

My thanks go out to my colleagues and students at Na’alehu Elementary and Intermediate School for helping to make this project a success, and I wish you all a fond Aloha!

Nancy Lewis



Diane Stanitski: Day 19, August 19, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Diane Stanitski

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

August 16-30, 2002

Day 19: Thursday, August 29, 2002

The FOO (Field Operations Officer)’s quote of the day: 

“The art of art, the glory of expression…is simplicity.”
– Walt Whitman

Weather Log:
Here are our observations at 1600 today:
Latitude: 4°59.00’S (into the Southern Hemisphere!)
Longitude: 139°49.2’W
Visibility: 12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 95°
Wind speed: 12 kts
Sea wave height: 3-4′
Swell wave height: 5-6′
Sea water temperature: 27.3°C
Sea level pressure: 1009.3 mb
Cloud cover: 2/8, Cumulus

Science and Technology Log:

I awoke early to be sure that I could hop on board the RHIB when it was ready to depart for our next buoy retrieval. John K. wanted to try something new…a live broadcast from the RHIB while he filmed from the ship. I suited up with a life jacket, hard hat, radio, microphone, and cameras. This would be a challenge. As it turned out, Larry, our electronics technician who assists with the technology end of the broadcast, and John could only hear me for a short distance away from the ship. John, however, caught the entire scene on camera. Upon arrival at the buoy I jumped on to it after Dave Zimmerman and asked him questions while he was dismantling the instruments so they didn’t break while the buoy was being retrieved. It was so much fun. There appeared to be quite a few barnacles and algae (very slimy) built up below the waterline on the buoy.

We then hopped off and drove back to the ship where we finished the broadcast. Ensign Sarah Dunsford then joined me and described the entire retrieval procedure from the boat deck of the ship looking back at the fantail. She did an excellent job.

We decided to hold off on the shooting of our general broadcast so that we could all pitch in to assist with the spooling of the cable as it was brought up from over 4000 meters of depth. This takes a few hours and I helped by turning one of the spools while the nylon cable wrapped around loop after loop. In between spools I helped Nadia with the barnacle removal. We scraped the entire buoy clean.

Someone then shouted that whales were spotted off the stern of the ship and I ran back to see if I could find them. There they were!!! I was told that there were ten of them, but I only saw about five. They were pilot whales, not too large – perhaps 12′ long – but still very beautiful as they swam through the water. What a treat!!! We completed the retrieval and went into the mess to eat lunch.

The afternoon consisted of conducting interviews during our final general broadcast from on board the ship. We are hoping to complete additional broadcasts from Nuku Hiva, if possible, and to shoot video footage in Tahiti at the Meteorological station. This was a fun broadcast. We interviewed Takeshi from France who played his flute and said a few words in French, Nemo who described his duties on the ship and showed up how to tie a few important knots, and Mike Strick who can often be found assisting in the kitchen as well as on the fantail – he does it all! The broadcast ended with the deployment of the buoy that would replace the one removed earlier today. A great day in my book!

Personal Log:

I began taking photos of all the people on the ship today. I don’t want to forget any of them as I leave this ship and sail back to my life in Shippensburg. It’s the little things that people do along the way that make all the difference, isn’t it!? During one of the CTD casts to 1000 meters, Jason Poe helped me miniaturize and mold a group of styrofoam cups that I could bring back to my family, friends, and students. Doug McKay (Nemo) assisted many times when I needed a hard hat or life jacket at the last moment in order to be able to experience something on the ship. Fred Bruns provided insight, feedback and tidbits of history about the ship. Larry Wooten was always ready to help with any technical problem that arose, no matter the time of day or night. Paul Freitag answered an unending array of questions that I had about the science on the ship. John Kermond, of course, was always there with new ideas and ways to make my experience the most exciting and informative possible. All of the officers on board cooperated during each of our broadcasts and permitted great flexibility so we could produce interesting and educational webcasts for all of you. I could go on and on…and probably will tomorrow during my final day on the ship while it’s at sea.

Takeshi taught one last French lesson tonight just after dinner while watching the sunset so that we would be prepared for arrival in Nuku Hiva. Most people are ready to see land before they complete their journey by ship, taking them back to Honolulu in the next few weeks. Six of us will depart in Nuku Hiva. I look forward to an opportunity to explore the island and to shoot more footage to be used in our videos on the web. After another productive day, it’s time for bed.

Question of the day: Name two of the instruments that are placed on the buoys at sea, and state what they measure. Email me one last time with your response. If you’re the first person to respond and I receive your answer early enough tomorrow, I might be able to include your name in my final logs.

Last full day at sea…

Diane Stanitski: Day 15, August 25, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Diane Stanitski

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

August 16-30, 2002

Day 15: Sunday, August 25, 2002

The FOO’s quote of the day (I really like this one!):

“Let your dreams run wild and free and always follow where they lead.” – N.E. Foster

Weather Log:
Here are our observations at 2200 today:
Latitude: 1°31.9’N
Longitude: 140°00.5’W
Visibility: 12 nautical miles (nm)
Wind direction: 120°
Wind speed: 12 kts
Sea wave height: 3-4′
Swell wave height: 4-5′
Sea water temperature: 27.3°C
Sea level pressure: 1011.7 mb
Cloud cover: 3/8, Cumulus

Hurricane Fausto is slightly diminishing in strength, but is still maintaining winds at 90 kts, gusting to 110 kts. It is currently located at 18°N, 125°W and is moving northwest. Another tropical depression has formed at 11.5°N, 148°W and has maximum sustained winds at 30 kts with gusts to 40 kts. It is expected to gain strength and move into the tropical storm category. We are definitely not in danger of being impacted by either storm because they require Coriolis to form or to be sustained. Coriolis is negligible at the equator so we’re safe!

Science and Technology Log:

This has been my favorite day of the trip so far! I awoke hurriedly at 5:50 AM and ran outside with my hard hat and life jacket. We were taking the RHIB (once again, the rigid inflatable boat) out to retrieve our first buoy. Earl, Dave, Paul, Doug and I rode toward a gorgeous sunrise, removed sensors from the buoy, and then hooked it to a line to drag it in toward the ship. What an amazing morning! It all started there. As soon as the buoy was lifted onto the dock Nadia and I began removing barnacles from the bottom of the frame. The barnacles were still alive with their legs appearing and disappearing within their hard shell. They stick to the mast, buoy, and inner flotation device in clumps. At this point, I am filthy, smelly and loving every second. The barnacles are full of sea water which occasionally bursts and runs down your arms as you work over your head. I’m sure I’ll smell like fish for the rest of the day. The retrieved buoy was then power washed to remove the salt water, algae, and remaining barnacles parts, and to prepare it to be deployed again later during the trip.

I then helped pull in the 4300 meters of nilspin and nylon cable by taking over one of the spools where I turned it around and around as the cable draped over the top. Fun, and tiring! Just as we finished with the last spool, Doug, the XO, decided to fish off the back of the ship. You should have seen the amazing fish swimming all around the fantail of the boat… mahi mahi, and every beautifully colored huge fish that you can imagine! A blow hole was spotted by the FOO earlier, sure signs of a whale nearby. I also saw a huge fish jump out of the water, but couldn’t identify it. The fish all hang out around the buoy because of the barnacles (food) and the shadow created by the buoy, thus creating a small ecosystem in the middle of the Pacific. Suddenly, Doug caught something! He had to keep reeling in the line until he pulled a wahoo on board (ono in Hawaiian, meaning sweet). It had unbelievable colors of green and blue and was shiny with stripes. It had a cigar-shaped body, pointed head, and triangular teeth, with a long dorsal fin separated into 9 segments. Nemo brought it into the shade, pierced its neck, and then returned to the fantail where he caught two beautiful yellowfin tuna – WOW! They were shaped like a football, were beautifully iridescent with yellow, gold and blue across their bodies and fins tinged with yellow. The fins were very long. We feasted on sushimi tonight at dinner, raw tuna fillets with wasabi and soy sauce – scrumptious! We also had baked ono (wahoo) with spices. YUM! Thanks, Doug and Nemo!

We then all worked to prepare the nilspin (cable closest to the buoy) for the next buoy deployment by placing fairings on the cable. Fairings are plastic sleeves that are rectangular and slide onto the cable to provide more friction with the water. This alleviates great movement of the cable that usually happens due to strong ocean currents at this latitude. We are so close to the equator that the equatorial countercurrent makes a huge difference in the movement of the subsurface line. It was like an assembly line with me lifting each fairing out of a garbage can, handing each one to Dave who opened it and slide it onto the cable. Then, Paul used a mallet to secure it on the line while Jon held the cable in place so it didn’t drift off the boat. We must have placed hundreds of them on the line while it was being pulled out to sea by the new buoy that we just deployed (see photo log for pictures of the buoy retrieval and deployment). In the end, it took about 3 hours for the nearly 5000 meters of nilspin cable and nylon cable to be unrolled and pulled by the buoy out to sea. The buoy was floating about 4 km away from the ship by the time the cable was unraveled. You could just see it on the horizon. The crew then dropped two massive anchors (old railcar wheels) into the sea, which sunk and pulled the cable down while pulling the buoy into place above. The entire procedure is a real sight to see because of the crew’s efficiency…truly impressive.

Before dinner, John and I sat down and completed the script for tomorrow’s broadcast, however, things might change because we will be starting the science on board at the same time our broadcast is supposed to air live (9:00 AM ship time). We may have to change the show’s schedule if something exciting is happening on the ship that might be of interest to all of you. Flexibility is key to it all, I’m told.

Personal Log:

After a workout, shower, and dinner, John shot some footage of me on the bridge deck summarizing my experiences thus far, and describing what’s yet to come during this next week. The sunset was outstanding again. There were many clouds and they created these streaming rays of bright yellow light from the setting sun down to the Pacific. I could easily watch this every night.

I’m going to finish my logs and head straight to bed. This was truly the most outstanding 24 hours of the entire trip. I am so lucky to be here and can’t believe that we’re heading to the equator tomorrow!

Question of the day: 

What does TAO stand for and what is the goal of the project?

My favorite day of the trip so far…