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Under way at last...
by Mike Vecchione
We are at sea. We finally got under way at 11:00 last night. We were ready at 9 PM but had to wait for two container ships to come in and get safely docked before we could go past them. One belonged to Dole and the other to Chiquita. Both were loaded with bananas. We literally had to wait for a couple of banana boats!
We made good time last night because the wind came around astern and we surfed our way out here. "Here" is almost at our first station and quite close to the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon. Seas have been running 6-8 ft (moderately unpleasant) but now they are beginning to settle down and we should be able to begin sampling this evening. We are finally out in Sargassum and water that you can see through, a big contrast with Gulfport. There was a dolphin feeding in the lights of the ship before we left and you could not see it until it broke the surface. We are surrounded by huge oil rigs in the distance. There is an support ship practicing with its very impressive water cannons for fighting fires on the rigs. There are flying fishes around but most of the birds I have seen are land birds that were blown offshore by the storm. We are all looking forward to working tonight.
Figure 1. Screen shot of the ship's navigation computer, showing oil rigs around our location.
Figure 2. Water cannons from a oil-rig support ship, presumably a fire-fighting drill.