Thursday, January 19, 2006

Slammin Seas

At 7 o’clock this morning I thought I had had my great experience of the day when I stepped out of the bio lab front door and almost fell over an elephant seal.  He was very playful and cute but this very cool sight was greatly lessened by the awesome seas that we experienced today.  We could see this morning that the winds were going to make going out and sampling station E very interesting but we really had no idea what was really happening out there.  Let me explain this a little better.  The southern side of Anvers Island is where we are located.  We have no protection from the raw ocean.  There are some rocks here and there that help a little, but not enough to call protection.  So when we get a northerly wind it brings us open ocean built waves, we saw what this really means today.  So after two days of a steady wind and a low pressure system quickly approaching, we should have known better.  But the wind measured at the home station was only 13knots, so we headed out for our Thursday morning samples.  Just after we had made it out of hero bay the waves picked up to 3-4 feet and they were tight spaced.  By the time we made it out to the tip of Bonaparte pt. we were pretty well shaken.  We had determined that we would make it out to station E and determine the feasibility of sampling out there.  We motored on rising up and down in the swells which had grown to 5-6 feet.  The waves would twist the boat allowing waves to plow over the side of the boat burying Maria in water.  Every time we twisted I would correct to stop the flooding, eventually we were heading the wrong direction.  I looked down to check the GPS, not 2 seconds later the boats’ nose was in the air and we were falling off the backside of a huge wave.  We landed hard and the boat momentarily bent in half.  All of our equipment made an attempt to evacuate the boat, and we almost lost Ron and Maria over the side.  This was the turning point.  We were still more than a mile away from station E and we had been motoring along for 20 minutes.  Turning around in the waves that had built to 7-8 feet was a little hairy but we made it fine and we were on our way home, with the waves.  Lots of Fun!

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