Gulf of Alaska, Ocean Station Papa

We steamed out of Seattle straight into a gale headed for Ocean Station Papa. Station P. lays approx. half way between the W. Entrance to the Straights of Juan De Fuca and Dutch Harbor Alaska.
  The next seventeen days were mostly
misery.   Well not quite that bad as the low pressure systems move through pretty quick and it take a couple days for the next one to arrive.  Our worst was gusts to 55 knots with seas around 25 feet.  The worst part was at the start of my watch the wind would be from 270 and by the end was at 360.  There was no good heading to be on, they were all fucked.  We were hove to babysitting some drifting instruments and the ships dynamic positioning systems was totally overwhelmed do the mate and I took 15-20 minute turns hand steering as best we could.  Couldn’t get any pictures.

This trip was pretty boring other than deploying two weather buoys in 4200 meter deep water and recovering one.  The rest of the time we spent deploying drifters in the morning, buoysitting all day then picking them up in the late afternoon.  Then we would hove to overnight and repeat.  I swear to god it felt lkke ground hog day each day.  It got daylight at 0900 and dark by 1600. 

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The drifters or swifts: (we called them lawn darts)

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The noaa waverider buoy we deployed:

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Probably the best fun was when the chief scientist sent some students out to spool some line on the deck winch.  The line is coated in vectran to reduce drag through the water.  They spooled most of line (loosly) to one side of the drum.  The ship took a heavy roll and the line totally fur balled on the drum.  it took them nearly 12 hours to pull it off by hand and respool correctly.

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Hard lesson learned by the youngins.

Toward the very end of the trip the weather looked like it might turn out pretty nice, which was great for the crew but not great for the science party.  Thier research focuses on the mixing and turbulence caused by breaking waves.  No waves – no data for them.  Since we were something like an 85 hour steam back to the coast, they decided to steam in and hold off about 200 nm off the coast and hope for another system.  Our first day closer to the coast was really nice with the air temp at 57 find no wind….

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It did slowly build to about 25 knots overnight and the science group was estatic.  At that point, time was up and we slow steamed back to Seattle.

We have another three week break in our schedule before our next trip so I hopped on the baby brother to the TGT, the Clifford A. Barnes for a five day trip.  We are currently sampling mud in Hood Canal.   More details later.

TT

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