October 10, 2015

South of the border

We’re about 20 hours away from Dutch Harbor, which means it’s about time for me to sit down and write my last post from the Healy!

A little over a week ago we came out of the ice just north of 75°N, 150°W, where we sampled at the last Super Station of the cruise. Unfortunately, once we left the ice, we were hit with strong winds and high seas, which we had to endure while sending instruments over the side of the ship, continuing our science program despite the bad weather. After a few days on the rough station, we decided to head southwest, hoping to escape the weather while continuing on the planned cruise track towards the continental slope. Once we arrived there, we sampled a series of closely spaced stations across the slope to understand the interactions between the shelf and the Canada Basin interior. A majority of those stations were sampled during my shift, which made for an exciting night of sampling.

Completed stations during the cruise, with the box around the area that’s enlarged to show the closely placed continental slope stations.
Once we finished the slope stations, we were revisited by some more foul weather, which persisted to the end of our sampling program for the cruise. While the weather wasn’t great, we were fortunate to have clear skies at night and were presented with a number of great displays of the aurora. I was not able to get any great photos of them (but I did get a decent one), Cory got some great shots from the bow.

The aurora over the bow, taken on 4 October 15 by Cory Mendenhall, USCG.
Only a few days after our great aurora displays, we had a visitor from Barrow, who flew out on one of the Coast Guard’s Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawks and is spending the duration of the cruise with us (the Jayhawk went back to Barrow).

The Jayhawk preparing to land on the Healy’s flight deck. Photo taken on 7 October 15 by Cory Mendenhall, USCG.
Following those exciting events, we’ve been busy shifting to normal schedules, and breaking down and packing up our lab spaces in preparation for Dutch Harbor. We’re now well south of the Artic Circle, and it feels a little sad that this great journey is actually coming to an end. To celebrate the end of the cruise, the science party cooked a special “morale meal” for all the Healy’s residents, which was fun getting to work in the kitchen for an hour and help out.

Fen cooked enough chicken to feed 145 people!
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is my last one from sea, but that doesn’t mean this is the last post for me. I have a number of photos from the cruise, along with some videos, that I’ll post about and include links to so you all can experience some of the great experiences I’ve had up north. Also, I’ll be back in Seattle the first week of November to offload the Healy, and I’ll be sure to write about that process.

As usual, stay tuned!