March 13, 2001 to June 2, 2001
Monterey to Hawaii and back
March 22, 2001: Leg 1; Day 10
George writes: Position and weather to come later..
With the second time change, the Western Flyer is now two hours behind the Pacific Coast. We are underway again (2200 WFT March 21st) and plan on steaming throughout the evening. We are currently at 28°02.78'N and 143°49.34'W and making 9 knots. The winds have come up to almost 25 knots and we are in a squall right now with lightening and rain coming down. The Western Flyer is a remarkable ship - for example, the midwater group is clustered around a microscope right now examining one of the specimens just collected. It sure doesn't feel like there is rough weather outside.
March 21st was a good day for science. You can see the clarity of the water as the ROV Tiburon comes up underneath the Western Flyer. This is from a depth of about 30 meters. As the vehicle comes up you can see the pilots who have been piloting the ROV during the last few meters of the ascent. One of the animals that we observed was a beautiful deep red siphonophore called Apolemia. After the ROV gets up on deck, we process the samples collected.
During the day, the crew use their free time to wash clothes, relax, or exercise. The stair machine is in constant use now and we have had to put up a signup sheet by the machine. Tim Pennington tried to fly a kite and ended up losing the kite to the ocean. After watching the kite float around the ship for about an hour and being unable to reach it, Tim convinced the Captain to let him recover the kite. Shawn Osborn readies the boat while Darrell Palmer mans the winch. The Captain keeps an eye on the kite and the Spare RHIB and the result is a successful outcome for Tim. After the ROV is recovered, the towfish is put back into the water Ginger Elrod and Steve Fitzwater keep a careful eye on the analytical instruments.
We are all excited by the upcoming descent of the MIR spacecraft. We have heard reports that it will be coming down somewhere in the Pacific - hopefully not too close, but we will look for it in the sky tonight.
0800 WFT; 1000 PST
27°25.41' N, 145° 40.11' W
Winds up to 33 knots
2-3 meter swell and building
Good morning, here's your early weather warning. There is an impressive low heading your way that should run into California in the next day or two. We are currently going through it right now. The winds last night were well over 30 knots for much of the night, heavy rain that was horizontal rather than vertical, and lightening. The main low front is still north of us, but we are catching some of it right now and it will likely continue throughout much of the day. There will be no diving (ROV or SCUBA) operations today but Francisco Chavez is still hoping to have a CTD station after lunch. The Western Flyer is a remarkable ship, the scientists are working at the microscope, running chlorophylls, and typing away on laptops - despite the heavy weather. We will be watching for the MIR spacecraft this evening.
The winds are up over 35 knots now and our speed has dropped down to 7 or 8 knots as we slog our way westward towards Hawaii. We are going to try and launch the CTD at 1300 hrs WFT as scheduled, but will likely only do the rosette rather than try and do the optical profiler as well. The waves are pretty big, one just came up through the moonpool and got up to the skylights getting everything in the area wet. This low pressure front is not moving very fast, but we are hoping to be out of it by tomorrow when we have a planned dive station.