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Students at Sea

August 27, 2013
kelly and lander

Kelly is all smiles as we retrieve the lander.

By Kelly Bryant Franklin

Ah yes, the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. Volunteering as a student technician has been an awesome experience. It was quite a relief, as well as a boost of confidence, that what I learned in school really did set me up to be able to do this work. It’s a great thing when a Dutch scientist starts setting up equipment that she’ll need some assistance with, and you not only know exactly what it is, but also how to use it. It felt good to be useful and appreciated.

The night watch, 1900-0700, was intimidating at first, but with so many CTDs and liters and liters of water samples to filter, you almost forget you’re not sleeping. The downside to the night shift is sleeping through the excitement of the day shift. For example, I not only missed a whale shark that swam up to the boat, but also breakfast and lunch! Not to mention the recovery of the landers and moorings we were after in the first place! But seriously, the food on this boat is amazing! We’ve had everything from lamb, yes I said lamb, to super duper fresh Wahoo sashimi. Don’t even get me started on dessert.

We, unfortunately, did not recover all of the equipment from the canyons. Hopefully someone will sight a hint of yellow, or perhaps even an orange flag, assuming they’ve made it to the surface, and call in the missing mooring and lander. Gaps in data are never fun, especially when you’ve been waiting a year for it, not to mention the expense. But with the Dutch clogs on board, sitting safely in their beautiful shadow box, I believe it will all work out.

Sitting now on the “Steel Beach” with a ridiculously peaceful ocean gliding by below me, I feel how lucky I really am to be a part of this trip. Great crew, great scientists, great food, great fun… What more could you really ask for?

Perhaps just one win in Mexican Train!

By Colby B. Witt


Colby watching the sunrise after working the night shift

During my week of adventure aboard the NOAA ship Nancy Foster, I have learned and experienced many new things. My first at sea voyage started on the R/V Dan Moore, out of Wilmington NC. The Dan Moore was an old shrimping boat rigged to be a research vessel and was rumored to be held together with bungee cords and Duct Tape. The Nancy Foster was a step up to say the least.

Now on my sixth at sea research cruise, I’m on the Nancy Foster  and I have gained a different perspective on a life at sea form the primitive Dan Moore. While cruising with NOAA I have seen many different types of equipment being used, such as the multi-beam sonar and its operating system. I also got very familiar with using a CTD and collecting water samples, and using a mono-core to collect sediment samples from the ocean floor. I am thankful that the NOAA survey crew allowed me to actually participate in all the work being done and helped me learn as much as possible. They were also so patient and happy to answer all the questions I had for them about their lifestyle aboard the ship and all of their duties.

Over the course of this week at sea I have learned more than just how to use all the scientific equipment. I have been introduced to many different career paths that I that I didn’t know existed that I would be interested in pursuing, such as a hydrographic survey technician or being involved in the NOAA corps. I also didn’t just learn from the crew aboard the Nancy Foster but also the scientific team here with me, from Furu and Gerard and leaning about the Netherlands, to Jonathan telling me about being a survey technician in the water off of Antarctica. I am so thankful for the opportunity to come on the Nancy Foster. I want to thank everyone for making this a fun, exciting, and most of all an educational trip.

By Sarah Nall

Sarah's sunset

Sarah captured this sunset as we steamed back to Charleston.

Sailors of days past once believed that the world was flat, that it ended at the horizon; that one could truly reach the end of the world. Though we now know that this is not the case, while traveling the open sea it is easy to understand that way of thinking. You look out over the ocean and the world just…seems…to… end. There is water and then there is sky. One can easily imagine the water rushing over the edge of the world in great roaring, crashing waterfalls. Nothing seems to solidify this idea more than watching the sun setting, sinking below the horizon, seeing the glowing sun disappear from view, setting the sky and water on fire with glorious oranges and reds.


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