March 13, 2001 to June 2, 2001
Monterey to Hawaii and back
May 30, 2001: Leg 5; Day 9
Ken Johnson writes: We’re bumping along in a good size sea, white caps all around, under clear skies and a 30 knot wind off the port bow. My favorite Western Flyer TV channel is now #53 - the navigation display: 470 nautical miles to MLA (the Moss Landing buoy), bearing 61 degrees true, speed 10.5 knots. That puts us at 33o 23’ N, 130o 14’ W, right now. The wind is coming from a gale that is offshore central California.
The pressure gradient creating the wind is moving south and we hope to slip in behind it without having to slow down. The secret, extra fuel tank is holding up and we should be in early, no problem. Ian is predicting 6 p.m., Friday night in Moss Landing. Meanwhile, we’re starting to bounce around pretty good - as I type this 6 drawers just popped open, spilled half their contents and then slammed shut again. Time to make sure things are a little more secure, like latching the drawers, than we’ve needed to make them so far. Maybe a little extra duct tape on all the computers (you can always tell a seagoing oceanographer because there is duct tape residue all over their laptop). I think the bumping will get worse before it gets better.
Speaking of navigation, how about a little tour of the bridge, where Ian, Darryl and Steve (Captain, First Mate, Second Mate - all very photo shy) control the ship. It’s very computerized. Those 60 channels of Western Flyer television allow the bridge officers and the engineers (Pete and Lance) to monitor the entire ship. There are a half dozen LCD touch screen monitors that provide information on all the shipboard systems, engine status, fuel and ballast, etc. And how do they steer? The helm is a little 3" lever. No big steering wheel. Most of the time a computerized autopilot is doing the steering.
What’s the big excitement lately? Well we had a fire and boat drill yesterday, pretty routine, but as part of the drill the crew practiced firing the line thrower. Way cool. It was Andy’s turn to fire it. This thing is used to send a line across to another ship if one were connecting a towing line. It’s about the size of a waste paper basket with a handle and trigger. There’s a rocket in the middle of the basket and a long, thin line coiled around that, which would be used to pull a towing hawser over to the other ship. Careful where you aim it. This thing might sink the other ship. Wow, does it go. I want a turn.
We’ve crossed the big salinity gradient on the outer edge of the California Current. Salinity has dropped to 33.2. Sea temperature is down to 16 degrees C - it was over 25 when we left Hawaii. Long pants for everyone now. Iron and aluminum concentrations in the surface waters are still very low. Our next station is at 5 p.m. this afternoon.
These are good conditions for albacore fishing. Doug and Josh have been towing a fishing line since leaving Hawaii, but we’re going a little fast. Josh pulled in the first catch yesterday (other than a black plastic bag that Doug caught) - an albacore jaw. Like I said, we’re going a little too fast.