HENRY B. BIGELOW - NOAA SURVEY CRUISE #1

Newport, ri to Cape Hatteras, NC

March 7 thru March 21, 2019

NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow (FSV 225)

Henry B. Bigelow supports NOAA’s mission to protect, restore and manage the use of living marine, coastal, and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management. Its primary objective is the study and monitoring of northeast and mid-Atlantic marine fisheries and marine mammals, ranging from Maine to North Carolina. The ship continually reports weather, sea state, and other environmental conditions while at sea. The Henry B. Bigelow contributes data to the Shipboard Automated Meteorological and Oceanographic System (SAMOS) every day the ship is at sea.
— National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOTE TO FAMILY & FRIENDS ANNOUNCING CRUISE

Hi Family!
- I’m aboard the NOAA research vessel Bigelow as a volunteer to work alongside scientists for two weeks.. We’re departing from Newport at 3:00 this afternoon, and will be returning on March 21st. Rather than explaining how-and-why I’m doing this, I’ll simply fast-forward to this one fact: I am a very fortunate person!!.
- I’ve opened up my photo-blog as a place to dump my pictures, and will begin to post stories shortly :) You can check it out at https://www.oatbay00.com/news

See you when I get back!
— Bob

Are you crazy?

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“Are you crazy?” I hope not. “It’s gotta be a mid-life thing” Impossible. I’m too old!! What sort of experience do you have?” Very little. “Then why are you doing it?” Well … it’s kind of a long story, so let me begin with what I said on NOAA’S Volunteer Application Form “Comment” section below:

I was born in Newton, Massachusetts, grew up in southern Berkshire County, and spent every summer from when I was a little kid through my college years, catching striper, mackerel, and cod from my Gramp’s boat, the Laurie Joan, out of Ipswich, Massachusetts. I’ve always had an affection for the sea and it’s beauty. I’ve done extensive sailing throughout New England, and crewed on a 38 foot ketch for delivery from NYC to Jamaica. I retired from Panera Bread last January and have been farming for Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury since last July. Prior to farming, I was a sternman on a commercial lobster boat for four months out of Scituate, Massachusetts. - Side-note: My great grandfather was a commercial fisherman out of Lubec, Maine; his wife worked in one of Lubec’s sardine canneries.
— Bob

First Impressions

journal entry, day 1

March 7. Drove to Falmouth 545am with all my gear to hook up with a bunch of other volunteers, techs, and scientists for an hour’s ride to the Newport Navy Yard where the Bigelow was waiting. Found a bakery in E. Falmouth and got coffee to-go. Loaded gear into van then headed out. Boarded around 930am. Bunkmates are Joe, Justin & Paul - all very nice. Everyone I’ve met so far are relaxed and welcoming. Getting acclimated to ship, living quarters, etc. Cold day around 19* plus big winds. There’s not a whole lot to share about day-1, except that I was blown away with excitement and anticipation when I walked up the gang-plank and onto this amazing vessel. I was naturally disoriented and lost sight of the rest of the crew as they made their way to check-in and drop their stuff off in our assigned state rooms - much smaller that a college dorm room yet very efficient. My room sleeps four of us in two separate bunk beds. All state rooms have plenty of space for stowing gear, plus a work-station with TV/Computer and a head with toilet, sink and shower. Apart from a general orientation to the ship, and a discussion of protocols, etc., not much happened for the rest of the afternoon. We were supposed to cast off today, but as it turned out, our departure was postponed until 3:30 on the 8th. Most of the science crew drove back home for the night. I was happy to stay behind to get more comfortable with all the passageways that go to all corners of the ship. The Bigelow measures 206 feet and has four decks, so there was lots to see, and lots of places to get lost.
— Bob

Welcome Aboard

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Passageway To State Room 1-32-1

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Another Day Off

Journal entry, day 2

March 8. Up at 500am. Made coffee at mess hall & had breakfast around 700am. Explored ship and took lotsd of pics. Went for long walk around the Navy base. Very cold, around 22* & windy again.
set out at 330, exciting. Stayed awake until midnight nto prepare for my noon to midnight. Nicole took me, Justin, and Sarah through wet lab stuff. Turns out won’t be able to set off until tomorrow sometime. Pre-sail system calibrations underway. I had pretty much all day to myself. I took a bunch of pictures and went for a long walk around the base. Everyone who decided to spend last night at home returned early this afternoon, and we departed at around 3:30 for the first leg of the trip to somewhere off of Cape May. Today’s sail was focused mainly on calibrating and validating that all sorts of gear, winches, trawls, nets, navigation - you name it - was fully operational. It was bright blue outside, but the temperature peaked to just 22 degrees, and it was windy, but that was outside. The inside was beautifully climate controlled. I watched a little TV, went to the ship’s gym, then turned in at 830pm.

March 9: day 3

Notes to self

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Journal entry

March 9 - Bed at midnight, up at 700am. Restless. Breakfast at 730am. Nice talk with ships steward Dennis. Calibration work still underway as we steam past Block Island toward NJ. Walked around ship staying clear of hard hat areas. Hung out on bridge - great views. Showered & packed “ready-bag” for tomorrow. It’s 1000pm as I write this. Will work on blog then crash at midnight. Trawling begins sometime tomorrow.
— Bob

Steaming South

The Bigelow’s position at 800am. We left Newport at 330pm yesterday and steamed all night. The ship operates 24/7, so assignments are split into 2 twelve-hour shifts, noon to midnight or midnight to noon; I drew the noon to midnight card. Seas have been really smooth; it hardly feels like the ship is moving (though I’ve heard that Sunday/Monday may be a different story).


The Bigelow’s position at 800am. We left Newport at 330pm yesterday and steamed all night. The ship operates 24/7, so assignments are split into 2 twelve-hour shifts, noon to midnight or midnight to noon; I drew the noon to midnight card. Seas have been really smooth; it hardly feels like the ship is moving (though I’ve heard that Sunday/Monday may be a different story).

The Bigelow’s position at 200pm. Since yesterday, we steamed from off-shore New Jersey to the Chesapeake Bay area. Near here we transferred two NOAA engineers onto another vessel at around 330pm.

The Bigelow’s position at 200pm. Since yesterday, we steamed from off-shore New Jersey to the Chesapeake Bay area. Near here we transferred two NOAA engineers onto another vessel at around 330pm.

When the Bigelow is near the center of the concentric circle, it’s “on-station” where we will trawl. The green icon at the lower-left is the Bigelow’s position on-approach.

When the Bigelow is near the center of the concentric circle, it’s “on-station” where we will trawl. The green icon at the lower-left is the Bigelow’s position on-approach.

General areas AROUND the ship

Trawls and Rigging

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Oceanographic Winches

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Bridge

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Wet Lab

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Video:

Dry Lab

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Video:

Acoustic/Computer Lab

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Trawls, CTB, & Bongo

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JOURNAL ENTRY, Day 4

March 10 - Up at 800am. Today was the day my shift received its first trawl into the fish lab. It began just like our previous shifts: quiet. Late in the afternoon the Bigelow would be on-station somewhere off of Nags Head, NC bringing in our first run. I the meantime we had a few uninterrupted hours to catch up emails, books, games, gym, or enjoying the great weather on deck. have lunch, then get ready for first shift. Because systems were still being tested, there wasn’t any work in the Fish Lab, so the crew that share my watch were on standby in the dry-lab most of the time reading, listening to music, or playing games. Every hour I would take 10 minutes and go to the ship’s gym to ride the stationary bike for 10 minutes, or go up to the bridge to get some fresh air. At one point this afternoon Phil - who’s the program lead - stopped by the dry lab. He talked about what’s behind a successful trawl-run, and the coordination of internal and external systems involved that dragging the huge nets has to meet operationally.
— Bob

Chillin’

… reading

… reading

… writing

… writing

… ‘rithmetic

… ‘rithmetic

… fishing off the stern

… fishing off the stern

… yoga on the flying bridge

… yoga on the flying bridge

… shuffle board in the wet lab

… shuffle board in the wet lab

… surprise!

… surprise!

… shootin’ the breeze

… shootin’ the breeze

… or just hanging out

… or just hanging out


streaming & haul back

Streaming

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Haul Back


journal entry, day 5

March 11 - I experienced my first trawl “streaming” and “haul-back” yesterday, and was glad that the catches weren’t very big (I was able to process what was happening end-to-end in the fish lab without being completely freaked out).

Yesterday began like the previous: not much happening while the final calibrations were buttoning up. Then, the science work began in the late afternoon. When preparations were completed, the trawl was winched from 36 meters deep (over 100 feet) onto the deck at the stern while the ship motored ahead at three knots. Because I was up at 800am in bed at 100am, and with my watch being noon to midnight, I was awake for 17 hours; amazingly I was pretty refreshed through most of it.
— Bob

What’s a trawl?

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Trawls are enormous, cone-shaped nets that are towed by one or sometimes two boats. As the net is towed, it herds and captures thousands of fish and other creatures. The net is wide at the mouth and then narrows to a bag or ‘cod-end’, where the fish are trapped. When towed by a single vessel, heavy wood or steel doors on each side of the net (called “otter boards”) or a solid beam, hold the mouth of the net open. The spread of the trawl net can be up to 330 feet (100 meters) wide and 40 feet (12 meters) high1. Picture it this way – a net as wide as a football field and higher than a three-story house.
— @safinacenter.org

Standing-by to receive a catch

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March 13/14: day-7/8

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A Holy Crap Haul

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March 15/16: day-9/10

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March 21: almost home

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