By Kate Stafford, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington
August 30, 2012
The chief scientist of this leg, Terry Whitledge from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has spent the better part of the past several days organizing lab space, managing the needs of the different groups on board and making sure that shipments made it from Alaska Air cargo to the ship in time for sailing. He has also been juggling the number of sampling stations with the number of hours in a day and developing a cruise plan.
He's pleased that things have gone smoothly so far, but he is looking forward to getting to do some of his own work while continuing to juggle people, space, and timing during the cruise. We have a day at sea behind us, the first big biological sampling station done and a few Conductivity-Temperature-Depth (CTD) casts to boot, so everyone was starting to get into the routine that is life at sea (work, eat, work, sleep. Repeat).
Unfortunately, the weather system that we thought we had dodged yesterday has been holding us hostage for the better part of 24 hours. The winds and waves picked up late morning and by the middle of the second big sampling station, it was clear that conditions were unworkable.
For hours and hours now we have been steaming at perhaps 2 knots into the storm to make the ride as comfortable as possible. Adding to the challenge of navigating in a sometimes-confused sea with spray that occasionally hits the bridge windows is the presence of big chunks of sea ice that blend in with the whitecaps of breaking waves.
It's pretty nasty out here with rain and wind whipping the ship, but the Khromov and her crew are good, solid sailors, so now it's just a matter of waiting out the storm so we can all get back to work.