Sunday, February 17, 2008

Keeping our wits in the doldrums

Our noon position: still in the gyre. Latitude: 35 59.71 Longitude: 134 40.28

"As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean" Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

The ancient mariners referred to them as the “horse latitudes”, also known as “the doldrums”. Notoriously calm - a sailor’s nemesis. The story behind this: back in the days when ships laden with fine cattle and horses would transport cargo by sea, those passing between Latitudes 30 and 40 were sometimes stalled in a windless lake, redundant sails a flutter. As supplies dwindled, and fresh water reserved for human consumption, perished livestock were tossed overboard.

Fortunately, we have a solar powered reverse osmosis desalinization unit to make fresh water, and plenty of food, so no ones getting tossed.

But we are having to get creative to keep busy on these long doldrum day afternoons – to each, his/her own:

· Anna works on her balancing skills while Marcus films;

· Jeff whittles pieces of ginger root,

· Charlie expounds on marine debris from shipping with the bulk carrier "Progress" bound for Sriracha in background, while Marcus films,

· Marcus continues guarding his undefeated chess title as Joel begins to crack under the pressure,

· Joel tries to eat an entire box of caramel chocolate macadamia clusters. How does he stay so skinny?

· Herb, having completed his 36-hour existentialism lectures moves on to the History of Science – another epic course.

Too much time on our hands? Perhaps. But forced down time often leads to interesting speculations…

For about a week now, we’ve been tracking an unfamiliar bird – not the usual Albatross or Petrel, but a bird even Charlie couldn’t place. We sent an image to Richard Erickson back on the mainland who identified it as a Glaucous-winged Gull, not generally seen in this region.

Charlie wondered: All the debris we’ve found has attracted tons of life – pelagic crabs, fish, barnacles - might the presence of these new potential food sources, not normally available in this oligotrophic zone, be attracting these birds to the area? Or was it simply winds or curiosity bringing them to new territory? Inquiring gyre minds want to know.

Our fuel reserves are low, and while we’re not in any danger, we do need some wind ASAP to make our February 22nd arrival…So keep on blowin’, ya hear?

Aloha and gracias from the Captain and Crew of ORV Alguita!


Sr. Chief said...

We never get a warm fuzzy feeling when we hear of Jeff playing with knives. He makes his knives razor sharp and has an interesting scar on his big toe from one of his expertly honed instruments of destruction. Make sure he tells the truth about the story behind the scar. You can always cross check the facts with me or his Mother when you return. Is Jeff taking all the pictures because his 15 minutes of fame are up? His Mom always gets excited when she sees a picture of him. It is like watching her play "where's Waldo" everytime you post the blog.

Clif said...

Good work, all of you. It's great to tag along by way of the blog - and no sunburn!

Now, if there were only some way to make it profitable for ships to haul in plastic as they busy themselves hauling in sealife, with an incentive to not throw the stuff back in. No, it wouldn't be too effective in reducing all the stuff out there but at least it would be a reduction. I'm trying to think of routine marine operations that could reduce the plastic as a matter of course. Don't large ships routinely pump in and out water to maintain ballast? How about requiring some kind of filtering on the outflow?

Hope you get some winds soon. Those courses on tape/CD are great in small doses but it turns to a drone if you listen too much!

Kaisa said...

I was wondering, how big is the ORV Alguita? And how big are the ships needed to pick up ghost nets going to be?

West Lafayette High School
Grade 9

P.S. To Joel, I think you know my sister, Jenne, who lives in Oakland, CA.

Yashas said...

i thing that the gull is there because of the abundant food, but my question is actually, i really dont know what the purpose of the voyage is for, is it to protect marine life, or to do some kind of research on th plastic substances. i am sorry i am not posting that often, it s just that in most of the blogs, i dont understand th terms, so i cant ask any questions.
Westv Lafayette Jr/Sr High School
Grade 9