Our window of opportunity for operations started closing late on Tuesday, November 9, as winds and seas started picking up. By Wednesday morning we were again relegated to doing only bongo tows and surface water sampling with our flow-through seawater system. By midday on Wednesday even putting bongo nets over the side was becoming difficult as the seas and winds continued rising. Accordingly our Commanding Officer, Steve Wagner, headed for the shores of Fire Island, N.Y., where the Delaware II anchored from late Wednesday afternoon until Friday morning while we waited for the worst of the storm to retreat to the east.
We used our time on Veterans Day for small chores that are a big deal in rough seas, such as refilling 20 liter carboys, changing ethanol on our plankton samples, and even trying to get a good night’s sleep. The sleeping was more of a challenge than I expected as we were rocked by large swells rolling in from the offshore storm activity, something everyone was glad we were missing!
Friday morning was bright, clear and brisk as the Delaware II made preparations to weigh anchor and return to sea. Operations Officer Fionna Matheson lowered our at-anchor day-shape, the deck crew hoisted the anchor, and the ship’s officers guided the vessel back onto our cruise track.
As I am writing this at 1800 Eastern Standard Time we have already completed five stations and are working our way to the east behind the retreating storm into very large and very slowly diminishing seas. We are hoping they’ll diminish enough by tomorrow to allow deployment of our Niskin bottle rosette. A healthy dose of optimism is always needed for these winter cruises!