Spring 2011

Our intern, Ali - an undergraduate student from Middlebury College, details her experiences from her summer with the HOT program.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Human Radio Meets the KM

The instruments I am use to deploying are no taller than my waist, no wider than twice my own width.  As I saw yesterday, while loading the Kilo Moana (KM) for my first HOT cruise leaving tomorrow, the instruments I’m going to need to get use to tower over me. On the Seamans, there are 12 bottles in which to collect water samples between the surface and around 600 meters down. The KM has 24 bottles, each one about my height and wide enough to stick my head in (I promise I won’t verify that, though) and sometimes they lower them to within 5-10 meters of the bottom of the ocean – approaching 5000 meters deep.  What they use to lower this rosette of 24 bottles is also giant-sized.  There is an A-frame the size of a 2-story building that they have used in the past, and this cruise we will be using a crane. My background is operating a crane is not too extensive so I’m guessing I won’t be lowering the rosette any time soon. The CTD, conductivity temperature and depth sensor, to my disappointment, was the same size.

When I first arrived at the dock with Craig to load, the KM was maneuvering itself into position to throw on dock lines. This meant that I got a full view of the ship as she did a 360 right in front of us. What a unique shape she is: double-hulled with a carved out center like a big upside-down papaya, very wide birth as she stretches from one hull to the other, yet not much longer than she is wide. Though my knowledge of ship design is limited, I believe this to be a very unique one.  My clarity on the design of the interior is not as strong. Craig took me on a brief tour from the wet lab at the aft of the ship to the galley forward, which I am not sure I could retrace on my own.

Once I met the enormous equipment, it was time to test it. To do this we needed to send a signal from the lab through a cable to the rosette which instructs a clip to release thereby closing a one of the 24 tubes to capture a water sample.  In order to communicate from the wet lab to the dry lab that the signal was successful, walkie-talkies are ideal. In this case, the walkie-talkies were unavailable so we proved our resourcefulness in inventing the human radio.  I stood in the hallway between the two rooms projecting messages from Craig to Cammy, which consisted mainly of variations of “Okay!” Half humiliating, half hilarious, this is a new skill I will be sure to put on my resume. 

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