March 13, 2001 to June 2, 2001
Monterey to Hawaii and back
May 31, 2001: Leg 5; Day 10
Ginger writes: Hi All, This will likely be our last update and we wanted to acknowledge the crew for all their help and hard work. Nice day today. One more station to go! See you very soon.
Ken Johnson writes: Two hundred and forty nautical miles to go, bearing 61 degrees, speed 9.8 knots. We had sustained winds of 35 knots all of the afternoon and evening yesterday with big 12+ foot seas coming over the port bow. Wow, am I glad we’re on a SWATH vessel. This would be a very uncomfortable course in a monohull. The waves would lift the stern of a conventional ship and the bow would smash down into the next wave. That pounding is very tough on people - try sleeping while someone keeps throwing you out of bed. There would be lots of corkscrewing with the sea coming from the bow quarter. Hold on to that tummy. Because of the small waterplane area, twin hull design on the Western Flyer, this ship doesn’t pitch up and down much as the waves go by. We just ripped through the weather without slowing down. The motion is kind of like flying in a small plane through turbulence. Lots of sudden jars and bumps, but no big rolling motion, only an occasional big slam when a large wave breaks on the side.
The wind is down to 20 knots now and the seas are dropping. We’re getting closer and everyone, especially the crew, are eager to get in. The crew has been gone 80+ days now and that’s a long time on a small ship and a long time to be away from family. Our two legs of the expedition have been an outstanding success, due in large part to their efforts. Everything has gone flawlessly. All the towed fish launches and recoveries were perfect. We’ve towed this system about 5000 miles on the two legs with no problems. That’s about 500 hours of towing and about 1000 iron and aluminum analyses that we’ve obtained from this system. It must be some kind of record. All of the hydro casts on this leg have gone right on schedule. It takes a lot of skilled people to make this happen and we’d like to thank them all - Ian, Darrell, and Steve on the bridge, Pete, Tim, Dave and Dan, in engineering, Andy and Lance on the deck and Doug has kept us all well fed.
We finished a hydrocast last night, collecting 12 samples to 500 m with the rosette. Josh was up all night running iron samples from the cast, keeping Steve company as he tended the underway mapping systems. That was station 7. We have station 8 tonight. We’ll collect samples down to 1500 m on this profile. That will give Josh another long night. Station 9 will come Friday morning at 0630 and then we’re done with hydrocasts. That will give us about 10 hours to run that last batch of samples before we tie up. We’ll probably be doing chemistry until the lines go ashore. The iron profiles that we have collected with our little rosette are beautiful, probably the best we have ever seen by anyone, anywhere. We had to add another significant figure to our spreadsheets, to reflect the precision of the data - a few picomolar it looks like.
The underway systems are continuing to churn out numbers, although they are starting to get a little tired. Time for a day of maintenance, but we don’t have it. Ginger is patching them together, right now, to keep them running for one more day. The iron and aluminum concentrations continue to be very low, with a few excursions to higher numbers. These high numbers occur at large temperature fronts - perhaps they are jets of coastal water extending out from the shore. So long for now.