04. Cruise Letter #3

Dong-Ha Min’s cruise letters from P18 CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography expedition in the Pacific Ocean (2007/2008)

Letter #3


Finally, as of 1815 hours of 12/14 Friday, we’ve started to sail !!! It’s been a long agonizing delay and complication of the schedule. There still are handful of problems yet to be addressed but I am happy to report that I am heading out to the ocean this evening.

The night scene of San Diego downtown was so beautiful. I took some pictures with my oregular film camera, although I was not sure how that would turn out. Getting in and out of ports at night is always great. People are busy calling home on the deck before we finally lose the cell phone signals.

We will steam to our test cast station, which is about 320 miles away from here. It will take 27+ hours to get there, and we will work harder to prepare ourselves as we get closer to our real action site. Once we do the test cast successfully on this location, we will continue to sail to south to reach our real station #1 at the southern tip of Baja California. From that point on, we will continue to sail south along ~110W.

This morning when we were moving to the commercial fueling station off downtown San Diego, we mustered all the scientific members on board. This was to make sure everyone was on board and not missing. I happily checked everyone’s name off the list.

Some notes from yesterday: We actually set sail 10-20 miles yesterday for sea trials outside the San Diego bay. Because we put new parts on the main generators, the test in deep water was required. We saw some sea lions lying on the sea buoys on our way out. The sea trials were successful although it took whole day without being able to arrange the additional fueling. This ship takes 254,910 gallons of diesel fuel at 95% level. Amazing, isn’t it? At one point, chief scientist and I, desperate for quick fueling, considered using our credit cards to purchase fuels, but we immediately concluded that we would broke. So dismissed that idea.

One other headache was repair of the fresh water making system of the ship. They ordered parts to fix it and the last one just arrived this morning. It is a long story why they couldn’t order this part earlier. Due to the government fiscal year which ends in October, the ship’s crew couldn’t use their purchasing credit card in time…. another example of bureaucracy issue. Now we have all the crucial parts on hand, less worried about possibility of rationing freshwater in the middle of the ocean.

Tonight, we passed the Coronado bridge 3rd time during our stay in the San Diego port. Although it is a beautiful bridge, we didn’t want to see it again at least for the next few months…

Our original plan was that we pass the equator on Christmas time, but now schedule has been shifted so we may get there close to the new years day… will see.

During the last several days, as co-chief scientist, I’ve been revising our work plan so many times. We have to plan ahead with exact time plan so that we can get to the Easter Island in time completing most of the planned programs (20 or more different science programs) with minimum loss. The chief scientist and I are still working hard to come up with a best solution to handle the loss of almost 8 days of our program. Every minute counts here.

Yesterday, I lost my message #3 while sending it out due to disruption of internet connection. I attach the pictures of mess and galley areas of the ship (that is dining and kitchen areas). The food is good on the ship. Last night, they served fresh salad bar with excellent choices, corned beef brisket, pork chop suey, sauteed tofu steaks, steam broccoli, oven brown potatoes, yellow squash, steam rice, dinner role, ice tea/fruit drinks, fruit pie, and ice cream for dinner. I feel I am already gaining weight. There are coffee/variety of teas/cereal&milk/breads/cookies/ and ice cream in the mess all the time. One good thing is they don’t serve soda. They sell it on a vending machine instead. It’s 50 cents… government rate.

Now, all the nightime indoor passage lights on 02 deck and above have changed to red from white. This is a good sign because it means we are sailing… We might do our first fire & abandon ship drills soon. That will be interesting. Will explain about that later.

More later…

Dong-Ha Min

on NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown

(radio call sign WTEC, or Whiskey/Tango/Echo/Charlie)