Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Seamounts 2007
June 17 - June 24, 2007

June 22, 2007 (Day 6)

white caps
White caps, blue water, and a sunny sky. You will have to imagine the wind, salt spray, and motion of the ocean...
Jenny writes: We spent all day trying to get back to where we started. We turned around yesterday afternoon just south of Santa Rosa Island at 33o 50' N latitude. Now at the end of the day today, we have made it only as far north as 35o 10' N latitude, between our northern Patton Escarpment site and Davidson Seamount. The ship has been steaming at 3.5 to 4 knots. Any faster and the ship would be taking a brutal pounding in the high seas. Still, it feels like we're riding a slow-motion bucking bronco that can throw you at any moment in any direction it wants. Occasional 6 meter swells roll past the lab window and spray drenches the upper aft deck.
Our steward, marine geologist Patrick Mitts, writes:
It’s great to be back at work at MBARI, and out on the R/V Western Flyer once again. I have spent many weeks on the ship in past years, working as either a support scientist or crewmember. It’s very much like coming home after being away pursuing other interests. I have professional backgrounds in both geology and cooking, so this trip with Dr. Clague and the other geologists and biologists has been an especially fun way to get back into being at sea on the Western Flyer. I get to cook for everyone during my scheduled shift and then examine the geologic samples that Tiburon brings back, help out with gravity coring on the back deck to see what type of sediment they are collecting, or just join in the scientific conversations in the dry lab. It’s the best of both worlds for me!

blue buckets
Blue buckets in the wet lab. We use these buckets to keep animals alive and to store away our rocks. As you can see, the science party has had a little time to get creative with their cameras and image processing software

dry lab
Working in the ship's dry lab.

Unfortunately, it is particularly difficult to work along the California coast at this time of year on the Western Flyer, due to the pressure gradient winds that form between the East Pacific high and a low-pressure zone that forms from rising hot air in the desert southwest. They have combined to provide us with 3 to 4 meter swells and 35 knot winds for two consecutive days and we have lost science time as a result of the rough weather. However, the weather has not dampened the appetites of the crew, ROV pilots, and science team. They are still as hungry as ever it seems, maybe even a little more so than normal. We burn more calories walking or working on the ship when the seas are so high, and I haven’t lost any time in the galley due to the weather. In fact today was like being a pinball in the galley as I was preparing dinner. I was bouncing from stove to counter and then into the steam table at times. When a three-wave set hit the ship, I had to dodge a couple of flying pots while bending over to check on some items I was baking in the oven. So I remember now that the hardest part of the job is when the seas get rough! But even though it’s been a rough ride the last couple of days I’m glad to be back home on the R/V Western Flyer again.

Steward and marine geologist Patrick, in the galley of the R/V Western Flyer.


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