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Journals 2004/2005

Linda Hoffman
Palms Middle School, West Los Angeles, California

"Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance,
and Status of Humpback whales (SPLASH)"

NOAA Ship McArthur
July 28 - August 28, 2004
Journal Index:
July 28 - 29 - 30 - 31
August 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11

          12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

          21 - 22 - 23 - 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28

August 14, 2004

7am. Relief from the storm as we anchor by Adak island in a safe harbor. We will wait here until the storm passes. All morning I ate, straighten up my room and made my bed. I hope we can go into Adak. I will then be able to buy some Gatorade, shampoo, lozenges, and some cookies. Items like these are not available in the ships small store. It will also be a good time for me to recharge my video camera battery without worrying about it being bounced off the table.

Noon. After lunch everyone lined up to go on the small boat into Adak. The small, dilapidated dock is too small for our huge ship to tie up to. As we lined up, we had to put on a hard hat and a life jacket.

(Click on thumbnail below for full version pop-up)

Photo: Protected Resources Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California.

Dr. Barlow seemed surprised that I planned to go into town but I didn't ask permission and he didn't say anything. I climbed down a steep ladder and swung myself around to get hold of the small boat and slid into air one. Then zoom, we were off. I was in the front this time and the wind blew fiercely across my face and it was extremely cold. It was too late to put on my wool hat as my hair blew wildly in the wind and I held onto the boat with both hands. When we got to the dock, we had to sort of jump up on the part that was not falling apart and climb up some rocks to the solid land. We then walked over a mile to the Community Center/ High School/Cafeteria building. It was a long walk in the bitter wind but I kept up with the younger crowd. In the cafeteria I bought the items I wanted limiting the size, as I knew I would be doing more hiking and I wanted to keep my backpack light. The Gatorade helped me replenish the electrolytes and fluid that I knew I had depleted. As we headed out to find a phone in the middle of this wilderness, Beth came by in a truck. She had met an Adak native who agreed to drive us to the nearest phone a couple of miles away. We hopped into the truck and we were off. Fred, the kind native who drove us to our destination, told us that around 150 people live on the island during the summer. During the winter only 75 people live here. He is a military man and he goes around and detonates bombs that are still active on this island. I looked at Fred in amazement. He was a middle age, good-looking man working on a very dangerous mission. He rounded a curve, and there in the middle of nothing were several huge satellite dishes and an AT&T phone booth. The booth was standing alone in the middle of this area with no buildings around or near it. I made my call and I was so glad my AT&T phone card worked. Bob had his cell phone and quickly answered the phone. We talked and we marveled at the fact that he was sitting on the sand in Manhattan Beach, California, in his bathing suit soaking up the sun, while I was on this remote Aleutian island called Adak wearing every piece of clothing I could find to keep from freezing.

After the phone call I started walking back to the school with scientists Beth, Shannon and Juan Carlos. Beth decided to go to the market and Shannon and Juan Carlos decided to go hiking. I was now going to be on my own.

Just then Jim and Scott, crewmembers, drove up with Allen. They had rented a car somehow and they were going to explore the island. Allen jumped out and I jumped in the car. Jim and Scott welcomed me aboard as we drove high up in the hills over dirt roads and near steep cliffs. We sped through ditches filled with water whose depths were not known and yet Jim went through it anyway. It was an unbelievable ride. Many times Jim would look backwards as if he missed some important turn as he drove forward. I had to remind him when cliffs were right in front of us. It was a very scary ride and at first I wished I had walked the three miles back to the dock. But then, we were reliving history. We stopped at abandoned bomb shelters. The shelter was camouflaged with a grass roof covering. Every time Jim and Scott stepped into a cement bomb shelter or down an unmarked road, I worried that they would trip a live bomb. We came across the Bering Chapel camouflaged and over-looking the entire island. The views from this mountaintop were absolutely gorgeous and yet I wondered how the soldiers felt on this island during World War II. Before arriving here, Dr. Barlow had shown us a video on Adaks history.

Photo: Protected Resouces Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California. Photo: Protected Resouces Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California.

As we continued along the road we tried to find the road that would take us to the weather station we could see but we never found the right road. Our time on Adak was very limited and we were told we had to be back to the ship by 5pm. One of the things I learned was that if you were not on the ship by the appropriate time, the ship would leave without you.

I arrived back at the dock and the air one was now docked where one had to jump off a little hill onto the wobbly dock. "Wait Linda", Todd the air one driver said to me. "I'll move the boat to an easier spot." "Don't be silly," I answered and I jumped off the hill, onto the dock and into the boat. Zoom we were off and Todd didn't slow down this time just because I was aboard. Splash, the water hit my face. Hmmm salty. I covered my camera, which was more important than my face. I thought to myself, this is really fun. I am glad my son got me used to roller-coasters ages ago. The ship looked huge as we approached it after about 20 minutes zooming across the natural harbor. I climbed up the ladder while Kevin, one of the crewmen took my backpack, camera and scarf. The last ladder step onto the boat was quite a step so I was glad Kevin was there to give me a hand. Normally the small boat is lifted up to the top deck and we just step off the boat onto the ship. But today the small boat, air one, will make many trips back and forth, until everyone is once again onboard. Thus, everyone had to climb to the top deck.

5pm. Safe onboard, I change out of my now soaked clothes and head to dinner once again dry. Yum. We have t-bone steak, pea, baked potatoes, and fresh apple pie. We couldn't ask for anything more. Ray and Arte are great cooks.

Time- 22:33. Jim arrives back at the ship with a native from Adak. He shows him around our ship. Well I think everyone onboard was happy that we made landfall. I know I was happy I got a chance to talk to Bob. I will go on the computer now and send out some emails.

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