February 4: Rough seas
The winds increased through the night as we approached our next sampling location. When we prepared to launch the tender boat in the morning, it became clear that the weather was just too rough to continue. The ship rolled as winds gusted to 25 knots and the swells grew to two and a half meters.
Our vast view of blue ocean was interrupted by a car carrier ship on the horizon as it crossed our path. Officers on the bridge monitored its position and course as it passed by, noting from navigation systems that the carrier was bound for Namibia, Africa. The ship was a boxy 210 meters in length and large waves could be seen crashing up its sides.
A rough weather day provides an opportunity to catch up on tasks like data sheets, photo identification and tagging, and background reading, if you can avoid feeling sick from the lurching ship. It can be tough to stare at a computer screen for hours while your surroundings are pitching up and down and rolling side to side. The Lone Ranger handles these seas smoothly with expert steering by the officers, but it’s not surprising to experience a set of waves that can cause equipment to slide across a table or fall down. All crew onboard take extra care in these conditions to secure and re-secure items in all areas.
Later in the afternoon the crew conducted a fire safety drill. All emergency drills are especially important at sea to ensure safety. The crew practices different scenarios during each drill to test equipment and procedures. The science team participates in every drill to make sure we are prepared as well.
Hopefully tomorrow the weather will improve so that we can continue our sampling of Sargassum.
—Debbie Nail Meyer