August 4, 2007
I got up about 7:30 am. Breakfast was created by the chef, Norman. He is employed full time by the University of Miami as a cook - he does all the cleaning and serving, too. The rest of the crew and science team started showing up. We loaded equipment and got under way by 10:00 am. It will take us ten hours to reach our mooring spot near the Lower Keys. Today, we sat around quite a bit while the boat reached its destination. I was formally introduced to the crew and scientists. The crew consisted of Eddie and Jimmy, engineers; Ilya, Mark, and Dennis; technicians; John, first mate; and Sean, Captain. They are all helping as deck hands this first leg of the cruise. The scientists are Dr. Tom Lee, chief scientist; Kristian, graduate student; Grant, researcher and diver; and Robert, researcher and diver. I watched the crew paint the floats and the ACDP with algae reducing paint. ACDP stands for acoustic doppler current profiler. It will be dropped off tomorrow at a specific site.
I went up to the 01 deck and saw a dolphin in our wake and I saw a skate or a ray. I also talked to the Captain and took a tour of the wheelhouse. The Walton Smith is a 96 foot catamaran. It has twin 760 hp engines. It has a very low draft - about 5 feet - which allows the craft to go to very shallow coastal waters. The propellers have servo gear with variable pitch. I found this interesting as I have a new idea I can give to my robotics club when they build their boat for competition. It also has bow thrusters so the boat can be maneuvered more precisely. The wheelhouse has eight monitors. They include radar, a gps, a visual of the stern, depth finder, and others. We traveled at about 5 knots (I found out knots are pretty close to miles per hour) until we cleared the high traffic areas. I watched the ocean turn from dark green to light green to a turquoise blue. The weather was nice and the skies were clear. The news said that hurricane Chris is just about fizzled out. The ocean was very calm but this might change by Sunday. I joined the others on the main deck in the science room. They were all reading. I read for a while, too. Ilya later showed me the computer monitor which showed our planned route on a chart. He showed me how to change the prospective and how to determine the eta to a particular place. Later, the captain held a meeting and told us about the rules of the boat, discussed safety and showed us a safety video. We then toured the boat to see where safety equipment was located and we had a safety drill. We watched a DVD in the evening because the antenna was broken and there was no TV or internet. The scientists were busy getting ready for tomorrow so they did not have a lot of time for science discussions. We anchored about 9:00 pm and retired to our rooms. It was nice to sleep to a gentle rocking of the boat.