Twice now during my trip we are settling in the safe coves of the Arctic Slope lands, hanging on by the anchor amidst 40 kts winds with 50 kts gusts. Several miles outside of Pt. Hope, we hope to continue the survey to finish enough stations in time before we set back towards Nome, weather permitting.
Throughout the expedition, we are enveloped by glistening blue with bright clear skies for a couple days. During that time, sleep is renewed and extra work can be done. One flick of a seal’s whisker next, the clouds are daunting over us. Water gurgling, walls creaking, engines roaring increases steadily as waves spit a little more fire each time as swells slap the ship’s hull in continuous frequency shuddering the vessel.
Heading north from the Bering Strait, the only variation would be the hues of white and grey floating water particles in the sky. Autumn was my favorite season growing up in Barrow. The first snow fall usually started in mid-September, new shades of tundra coloring and subsistence whaling to commence. It was an exciting time before the snow stared to stick and darkness increased, stars would be more prominent in the sky finally after a summer full of 24-hour daylight.
Unfortunately, our CTD and the benthic grab machine have been having issues because of the rough weather knocking them around. Now we are venturing southwest towards the Kotzebue Sound, our chief scientist had to make some tough decisions regarding which stations we were going to have to cross off the map and which ones we can do. Because of the high winds, Kris decided we were going to do the stations that are nested in the protection of the inlet near Kotzebue. Stymied by the weather, slow progress will be made in the next couple of days. I have seen the determination and efforts made by the scientists and ship crew in these outlandish conditions, and will walk off this boat with high respect for this profession.