Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
My first cruise on R/V Oceanus was as a first-year graduate student at the University of Rhode Island. The year was 1981 or 1982, and the cruise started in the Azores. The project was a SOFAR float study of the Gulf Stream (GUSREX) —a collaboration between WHOI and URI. Since then, I’ve sailed many times on Oceanus, having the good fortune of learning the ropes with help from four captains: Mike Palmieri, Paul Howland, Larry Bearse and Diego Mello. They all taught me something important. I remember in particular my first cruise as chief scientist. We had been loaned a CTD by then physical oceanography department chair Jim Luyten, who was to be chief scientist on the following leg. One of my colleagues on the cruise (who will remain nameless) was pushing me to use the CTD package like a SeaSoar, i.e., to tow-yo it behind the ship close to the seafloor. I was debating what to do, when Paul Howland offered the following advice: “Are you crazy?! Are you going to let (so-and-so) risk the CTD that belongs to your boss and which is critical to the next leg?!” We didn’t tow-yo with the CTD.
It may be a big ocean, but it’s a small world. On another Oceanus cruise from the Azores to Woods Hole, we were steaming westward near the Gulf Stream south of the Grand Banks on a beautiful sunny summer day. Mate Jon Alberts and I were chatting on the bridge when he spotted a sloop making good speed in the opposite direction with spinnaker flying. With binoculars, Jon noticed that the sloop was out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which is next to my home town. We decided to hail them on the radio to see if they knew my parents. One of the people on the sloop turned out to be my mother’s piano tuner! He and his wife had just started a circumnavigation of the Atlantic.
My last cruise on Oceanus was in 2008, as chief scientist on Leg 2 of the infamous Red Sea expedition. I believe this was the farthest east that Oceanus had ever sailed. The cruise was fraught with logistical and political difficulties. The cruise plan was changing daily in the days leading up to departure. Port stops in Jeddah were relatively restrictive for crew members due to extreme port security. Nonetheless, the captain (Diego Mello) and crew stayed cool and maintained the highest standard of professionalism. Made me proud to be from WHOI.
R/V Oceanus has been a big part of my career at WHOI. I will always be grateful for the commitment of her crew to carrying out the best possible research at sea.
Fair winds and a following sea to Oceanus and all those who worked aboard her in service to WHOI and to science.
Department of Physical Oceanography, WHOI