Spring 2011

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

Out of the Bean Bag, Into the Hard Hat

Walking down the halls of the KM on Day 1 of the cruise felt familiar for the first time. Now I walk with confidence around corners at which I used to stop and ponder before. I know the doors that are sticky and expect the sweeping rolls of the double hull chucking me from starboard to port.  My memory of the watch routine – taking samples, labeling bottles, observing the meteorology – was a little rustier than my memory of the ship’s halls. I followed along behind Reagan, the volunteer, as Cammy oriented her to these tasks and paid more attention to her instruction than a veteran HOT cruiser should.  

I became acquainted with a new part of the routine this cruise, which got me out of my bean bag chair and into my hard hat: tagging. It’s a bit like it sounds. The CTD and I play tag, except I am always it and he is always swaying back and forth trying to wiggle from my grip. Brett standing on one side and I on the other, we tame the swings of the CTD until we’re told to slip our lines and let the CTD take the plunge.  After an intermission of bottle labeling or meteorological observations, Tagging, Act II, begins. In Act II the plot thickens with the introduction of a new character: the claw extension. Known more generically as a hook on the end of a pole, in my hands it feels like an extension of my arm in claw-form. Brett and I reach over the railing to hook our long claw arms claw around the frame of the CTD and guide the CTD back on deck.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Lazy Sunday Morning of Lifting

The adventures of my last HOT cruise started on Sunday morning ferrying the much needed but heavily begrudged boxes of salinity samples from the storage room to the truck. Filled with the remaining water from last cruise’s CTD casts, the glass bottles were heavier than I remember. Other oddly shaped or overweight boxes followed into the back of the truck and we headed to Snug Harbor to load them from truck to ship. The most oddly shaped and overweight object of all awaited us there: the CTD. It’s taller than I am and big enough to have a party of three take tea in its round center.  While waiting between cruises, the springs that close the Niskin bottles, in which the water samples are captured, are unstrung. Before loading the CTD on the ship, we had to reattach these springs so that the bottles are ready to capture water. Craig yanked on the spring while I attempted to attach each end of the spring to the bottle caps, 48 caps in all. This involved 50 “Got it”s plus two “Don’t got it”s accounting for my two failed attempts. We carried our boxes over the gangway to the back deck for the rest of the morning. Though lifting heavy objects is not my activity of choice on Sunday mornings, any opportunity to wear my hard hat outweighs the unhappy arms.

Everything was loaded on the ship by noon. Unfortunately this meant I had to take off my hard hat. Quickly, though, my spirits were brightened when Cammy handed me the Walkie-Talkie.  It was time to test the CTD’s bottle firing, Fluorometer, and other instruments.  The CTD closes bottles on command by releasing a hook, which had been holding the top and bottom bottle caps open. Reagan and I climbed onto the CTD in the wet lab to pull on each hook until Cammy fired the bottle from the computer.  By Walkie-Talkie I told Cammy that the “Bottle fired, next.”  We tested the Fluorometer, which measures chlorophyll by light emission and absorption, by sticking our finger in front of the sensor and tested the temperature, conductivity and oxygen sensors by pouring water through. By 1 pm, all the laptops were tied down to the counters and the instruments ready for deployment, so a lazy Sunday could begin.