Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ship of Opportunity

Buoy and instrument that gets thrown overboard
The MV Explorer is consider a ship of opportunity for the conduct of marine science.  NOAA has an on-going request that when on its voyages various science projects be conducted.  On our voyage the ship's crew was instructed to deploy two buoys, with marine instruments to measure salinity, temperature, currents, every one degree while we sail from Ghana to South Africa.  I was invited to have my students participate in these deployments; each buoy has been assigned a number which will allow us to track their movement.

My students preparing to heave ho

I'm receiving information from crew member in charge of the project

The 15:15 deployment: buoys were deployed every 1 deg of latitude: about every 3 1/2 hours

Monday, October 15, 2012

"0-0" Day

As in the Fall 2010 voyage the captain agreed to sail to the intersection of the equator and the prime meridian.  This occurred the day we departed Tema, Ghana. Where the ship parked in Tema was only about .5 mile from the prime meridian so for about the 340 n. miles it took to get to the equator we essentially were on the prime meridian. 

I was given permission to be on the bridge with the captain at that wonderful geographic moment and I went on the PA system just before the event to brief the shipboard community on latitude and longitude.  One of my former government colleagues has accused me of becoming a "geo-geek".

On the bridge with the captain (L) and Staff Captain (R)
Electronic chart showing "0-0"

Ian Rodgers, my "ship son" showing his "0-0" moment

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Return to Paris

My hotel, located in the Latin Quarter on the left Bank
Prior to this trip my last visits were in 1977 when Sandra and I began our honeymoon and then briefly in 1980. I did spend about 8 weeks in Paris one summer in the early '70s attending the Alliance Francais in an attempt to learn enough French to pass my graduate school exam.  So, on this brief 3 day visit I went to find out what was the same and what was different in the city. 

I did find the underground system a bit more complex and the Musee d'Orsay was one that I had not experienced in all its glory.  And, one of my favorite buildings from which to view the entire city, Samaritaine (a dept store) had closed down and was boarded up, as of about 5 years ago.  But, other that that, Paris is...well, Paris in all its splendor.

I spent my 3 days just walking, stopping in at Notre Dame, St, Chapelle, Musee d'Orsay, Sacre Coeur.  And, of course, just sitting at cafes enjoying a cafe au lait (in the morning) or a citron presse (a very sour lemonade, in the afternoon). And, Paris at night is not to be missed

Sacre Coeur, as seen from Musee d'Orsay

Sacre Coeur

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A walk around Antwerp

Our ship docked only several hundred meters from downtown Antwerp, making it quite easy to walk around this wonderful Belgium town.
On board our ship, with the Cathedral and town in the background
Our gang:  Faye, Matt Smith, Consuelo Springfield and me
Antwerp's train station
 Faye Serio, on the left in the picture, who had lived in Antwerp for about 9 months, showed a small group of us (around the town, "getting lost" as she put it, down fun little alley ways.
My favorite cafe, near the cathedral

I used this train station on day 2 as I traveled to Paris-- is has 3 levels

A wonderful evening sky on my walk back to the ship
The MV Explorer

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My extended ship family

On each voyage willing faculty & staff are given students who have asked to be placed with extended families.  These "families" then attempt to get together periodically to meet, talk, play games-- usually the meeting time is dinner.  Here is my "extended fam":  Mary (U Mich), Annie (Sweetbriar), Ian (U. San Diego) and Alexandria (Mich St.).  We have met on a couple of occasions and thus far, played one game of "oh hell".
Mary, Annie, Ian and Alexandria

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romesy, England

On my last day in Southampton I met up with my friends Lindsay and wife Lisa Parsons who live in the old and quaint town of Romsey, about a half hour drive west of Southampton. Whereas Southampton and Portsmouth, two port towns were bombed during WWII Romsey escaped that part of the war.

Lindsay and Lisa

Montbatten  buried in the Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey dates back to the 10th century.

A most delightful day was spent with Lindsay and Lisa, from just sitting adjacent to Romsey's main square with a cup of coffee, to going to their agricultural day.

Wonderful day in Romsey

Creative coffee

Reflection of another old Romsey church

Friday, September 14, 2012

A day in London

London is a great city in which to walk, or to take a double-decker bus.  So much history to take in, or just to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of London life.
Fun way to travel around the city, especially if you can snag the front row seat up top
What' going to London and not taking a pic of Big Ben and Parliament

Be sure not to eat until you get to the Market at Convent Garden

More eats at Convent Garden market

Crowds (plus bird) at Trafalgar Sq. enjoying ParaOlympic festivities

Ya gotta take in a show or two while in London

Old map and book stores are great in London        

Longitude: telling time at sea

One of my favorite places to visit when in London is Greenwich, home of the prime meridian.  Until the late 18th century mariners really did not know their positions while at sea.  Using sextants they were able to determine their latitude by measuring the angle at noon when the sun was at its highest, but knowing longitude required knowing the time back home.  Clocks certainly had developed centuries ago but to maintain a clock's accuracy at sea was a different matter.  In 1707 the British, and Admiral Shovall, experienced a marine disaster near the Scilly Isles when several of their ships ran aground killing over a 1000 sailors.

A few years after this disaster the British Parliament passed a law stating it would give the first person who developed a mechanism to tell time (position) at sea to a given accuracy a reward of 20,000 pounds (about a million dollars in today's monetary units).  Well, John Harrison,  a clock maker, spent the rest of his life to develop such an instrument, a chronometer.  It encountered great resistance from the Board that had been created to make the judgement and it took him 4 tries to build it.  All of his chronometers are on display at the Greenwich observatory.
Harrison's "H4" chronometer, the one that won him the prize
The next issue became one of where the "prime meridian" would be located as by the mid 19th century several countries, including the U.S., France, and England, based the meridian calculation in their respective countries.  In 1884 an International Meridian Conference was convened in Washington, DC and it was agreed that 0 degree meridian of longitude would be situated along that meridian that went through the observatory located in Greenwich.  
Straddling the prime meridian: part of me is in the eastern hemisphere while the other part of me is in the western hemisphere

Field Lab: National Oceanography Centre

For each class faculty plan and implement a field lab which constitute 20% of a student's grade.  For my ocean geography class I planned a tour and briefing a the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), in Southampton.  NOC was located only about a mile+ from where our ship was docked.

One of NOC's smaller research vessels

 The day of our visit happened to be an open house day for prospective students.  This had both good and bad points-- unfortunately, we were not given the individual attention or "hands on" aspects that I had hoped.  But, on the plus side we sat in on some briefings that gave the students a nice overview of what marine science studies were all about, with oceanography, marine biology, marine geology and geophysics being the key components.

We were shown a lab with tanks where various experiments were on-going

One of the professors giving an overview of the marine biology and oceanography parts of the program

Exhibits in the labs

Images of Westport, County Mayo Ireland

 Westport House, built in 1650 by the Browne family, had its heritage traced to Grace O'Malley, pirate queen of Connaught.  In the mid 1950s the house and grounds came close to being sold (and likely torn down) but the younger generation of the family decided to save it.  Since then the house has been open to tourists and family have expanded the grounds to commercialism by creating parks.

The grounds of the Westport House

Westport House

Westport House dining room

Kids' room

Cute restaurant, near the entrance to the Westport House

My hotel in Westport, formally a ware house

On the Westport House estate

Westport House estate