Tegan’s Science Notes #3 – Sea Turtle Rescue

Explorer GuidesMost conservation efforts around the world are focused on protecting animals and their habitats in their natural conditions. Many of our Earthwatch Institute scientists study endangered species so that we can better understand their lives, their movements and how they interact with their environment. Such scientific efforts also help to inform lawmakers who can then move to protect important areas, ban hunting or harvesting of rare species or manage existing threats to animal populations.

I am very lucky to be involved in conservation action which takes a slightly different route to protecting endangered species: rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles.

Sea Turtle Rescue
A green sea turtle getting an exam(source: rescue.neaq.org)

Every winter, turtles in New England run into trouble if they fail to migrate south to warmer waters. Sea turtles are superbly suited to life in the ocean, but as they are reptiles they don’t thermo-regulate. Instead they rely on the surrounding water to control their body temperature. If the temperature drops too low, the turtles can suffer from a form of hypothermia called “cold-stunning.”

Cape Cod Sea Turtle Rescue AreaWe usually associate sea turtles with warm tropical waters, but New England waters are important summer foraging areas for several varieties, including juvenile Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, and green sea turtles. When the air temperature starts to drop, that’s a sign that the turtles need to start moving south; they’re usually long gone by October. But some turtles fail to migrate and end up incapacitated by the cold water. They float in the water unable to move and are pushed by wind and waves until they wash up on a beach. In Massachusetts, the highest concentration of these strandings occur along the beaches of Cape Cod Bay.

It’s not known why some turtles don’t head south. Some scientists believe that turtles that are spending time in shallow bays may be caught suddenly as the water can cool very quickly in these types of environments. Others think that turtles which enter Cape Cod Bay may be unable to navigate out of it as heading north to get around the tip of the cape is counter to their instincts. In any case, every year many turtles will strand on these beaches, though 2012 was a record-breaking year with over 240 turtles rescued off cold beaches.

The rescue operation starts with a team of very dedicated volunteers from Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Sanctuary, who carefully walk the beaches after every high tide whether that’s early in the morning, late at night or in bad weather. When the turtles wash ashore they are exposed to extremely cold air, so it is important to find these turtles as soon as possible. After a quick exam, the turtles are transported to the New England Aquarium Animal Health Center where veterinarians and rescue staff coax them back to life.

As the turtles slowly warm up they will be assessed for injuries, have blood drawn, have x-rays taken and be allowed to swim in shallow pools with supervision. Once they warm up, they will be moved to the big tanks to continue their recovery. Rehabilitation can take months as turtles can have injured flippers, pneumonia, eye injuries among other ailments which need medical attention. One turtle even received acupuncture!

Sea Turtle Rescue TanksTanks hold turtles until they are recovered enough to released - (rescue.neaq.org)

Once they are stable they may be transported to other facilities that will continue to care for the turtles until they can be released to the wild. Over 80% of the cold-stunned turtles which come to the New England Aquarium will make a full recovery and be released back into the wild. Some of these turtles will be fitted with satellite tags which will track them in their first months of freedom. This is helping scientists learn more about sea turtle navigation and movement.

Sea Turtle Rescue
Kemp’s ridley turtles being released(rescue.neaq.org)

Why is this work important? The rescue team regularly rehabilitates three species of turtle: loggerheads, greens, and Kemp’s ridleys. All three of these are classified as “endangered” with decreasing populations. The Kemp’s ridley in particular is the most critically endangered species of sea turtle in the world; in the past 70 years, the population has gone from 89,000 nesting females to only around 1,000! Kemp’s ridley turtles have an interesting nesting ritual callled an “arabada” or mass nesting where the females will come on to the nesting beach all at once taking over whole sections of the beach. (See photo below.) This behavior makes them very susceptible to hunting, which has severely reduced their population. Today they are also threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and entanglement in fishing nets. There is a huge amount of conservation work being done to address these threats including fitting trawl nets with turtle exclusion devices (TEDs) and protecting nesting beaches. The work to save these turtles from certain death in Cape Cod Bay is just one part of the bigger work being done to save these species from extinction, and part of the much grander effort to preserve the diversity of life in the natural world, of which we are all a part.

Want to learn more about sea turtles?
• Follow the New England Aquarium Rescue team’s blog at rescue.neaq.org to learn more about cold-stunned sea turtles.
• Visit seaturtle.org which has lots of interesting information about sea turtles and sea turtle science.
• Take the hands-on approach and sign up for an Earthwatch expedition studying sea turtles.
• If you live in the Cape Cod or Long Island region volunteer as a beach walker or turtle transport driver.

Sea Turtle Rescue
An arabada, Spanish for “arrival” nesting event(source: jameskaiser.com)

:: Tegan’s Earlier Science Notes:
#1 – Bird Migrations
#2 – Wind and Weather
:: Citizen Science Resources Page

:: BDX Explorer Guides
- Our Watery World
Wind and Weather
Math
Sea Life
Oceanography
Sailboat Glossary
Mentor Guide

Do you happen to know other scientists, educators or journalists who might be interested in our Learning & Discovery agenda? If so, we’d love to make their acquaintance. We can always be reached at oceanexplorer@bodaciousdreamexpeditions.comThank you!

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Tegan’s Science Notes #2 – Wind and Weather

(This is the second in a series of “Science Notes” from from our ocean scientist colleague, Tegan Mortimer, who works with Earthwatch Institute. These postings follow from encounters with nature that I have on the water. Tegan’s first Science Notes was onBird Migrations” – and can be found at the link or on our Citizen-Science Resource Page. Tegan’s Science Notes support our “Learning and Discovery” agenda, which we will keep expanding on over the course of the circumnavigation. Such “custom-made” reports we feel are particularly appropriate for sharing with the younger learners in your world. Please Contact Us if you have questions or suggestions on how we might better serve the interests of young learners and their mentors. Thank you, and take it away, Tegan!)

Today we’re going to talk about a very important topic; wind and weather. Dave spends a lot of time paying attention to the wind and weather patterns that control his journey. There are two types of weather patterns that Dave is confronted with: global weather and local weather.

Let’s start with global weather. These are weather and wind patterns which occur over very large parts of the globe and don’t change very much if they change at all. These are things like the trade winds and the doldrums.

So how does it work? Let’s start with the most basic concept of weather: warm air rises and cold air sinks. Understanding this concept is the first key to understanding weather and wind. Imagine that the air around you isn’t all this one big cloud of, well, air; instead it’s lots of pockets or parcels of air like cushions all packed together. By the way, this same phenomenon happens under the ocean with seawater as well as inside the earth’s core with magma.

Now, going back to the atmosphere, these different pockets can have different properties; different temperatures, different moisture contents and they can move independently of each other. A pocket that’s close to the surface of the earth is going to receive more heat from the earth than a pocket of air higher up in the sky. This warm pocket of air will start to rise and as it rises, it cools down until it reaches a point where it starts sinking again. This process than will start all over again as parcels of air keep going up and down. This movement of air upwards is sometimes called an updraft.

Now what does this all have to do with winds? First we have to imagine that we have a parcel of warm air at the ground. Like a balloon this air is going to rise, but as it rises, its temperature goes down. Eventually this air cools enough that it will start sinking back down. So we end up with our air going up and down over and over.

Let’s imagine this process of air rising and then sinking stretched over a longer distance, so that once the air sinks, it flows across the surface picking up heat until it rises again. The surface of the earth is covered by a series of these rising and sinking cells.

Global Wind Patterns
Source: wiki.flinthill.org

If we look at the diagram above we see that there are three major cell types. I’m going to talk about the Northern Hemisphere here, but it is exactly the same in the Southern Hemisphere - just flipped the other way! Hadley Cells transport air from the tropics towards the equator where it rises and is carried northward aloft. The Ferrel Cells cover the mid-latitudes and carry air which sinks at the tropics north to the Polar Cells which transport cold air south from the poles. This system helps to distribute the excess heat in the equator and tropics out to the mid-latitudes and polar regions.

What you’ll also notice is that this system of circulation gives rise to the major winds, especially the trade winds which Dave has been experiencing, and which are so essential to trans-Atlantic crossings.

Now it’s time to introduce the second major concept: high and low pressure. When you have a steady stream of air rising, it’s not going to be able to sink back down because there is more air pushing up behind it; instead it flow outwards before sinking down again. Where the air rises and disperses is a low pressure and where the air converges and sinks is a high pressure. Air will always flow from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. This “pressure” concept is found throughout biology and chemistry as well.

If we look at the equator, between the two Hadley cells, we see that air is traveling towards the equator, rising, and then flowing outwards. This is a Low Pressure area. Conversely, when we look at the area between a Hadley cell and Ferrel cell we see that the air converges aloft, sinks and then flows outwards, this is a High Pressure. What this means is that there is a low pressure all the way around the equator, a high pressure around latitude 30° and another low around latitude 60°. Air naturally flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure. When this is combined with the revolution of the earth you get the major winds.

highs and lowsSource: rgsweather.com

You’ve probably heard about high and low pressures in your local weather reports too. High and low pressure areas occur when the surface pressure is either higher or lower than the surrounding “sea level pressure” which can happen for a variety of reasons. These pressure systems are responsible for most of our local weather. The same process that I described early is occurring here as well, a low pressure is air moving up and away and a high pressure is air moving down to the earth.

The GENERAL RULE is that air flows into a low pressure and away from a high pressure. In the northern hemisphere winds flow clockwise around a high pressure and counter-clockwise around a low pressure, and it’s the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere. Low pressure systems are usually associated with cloudy, wet, and “unsettled” weather while high pressure systems bring dry and clear conditions.

So, let’s finish off with a problem. Below is a picture of winds (taken from a very cool site) which are forming a weather system. Based on this map we can say a lot about the local weather. Are we looking at a high pressure or a low pressure? What types of weather are associated with low pressures? What types of weather are associated with high pressures? What do you think the conditions are like in the area shown?

http://hint.fm/wind/
http://hint.fm/wind/ 

Let’s break it down based on what we’ve learned. So we are in the northern hemisphere so we can figure out if this is a high or a low pressure based on the circulation of the winds. They are circulating counter-clockwise which means that this is a low pressure. Another clue is that the winds are circulating into a tight center rather than out of an area like we can see to the left. The bolder lines on this map show stronger winds so we can see that there are strong winds around the low pressure and lighter winds around the higher pressure to the west. We also know that low pressures being rain and cloudy weather. So looking at this map we can say that most of the northeastern United States is experiencing rainy or stormy weather with high winds. In fact this is a map showing wind conditions during Hurricane Sandy last year.

(Tegan Mortimer is a scientist with Earthwatch Institute. Contact Tegan directly at Tegan Mortimer <tmortimer (at) earthwatch (dot) org>)

Voices in the Night

11.09.13 - 33.08023W, 2.79826SAs I write this, it’s Friday out here … right about noon. We continue banging and slapping our way down around that bulge of the Brazilian coast heading in the direction of Recife (the fifth largest city in Brazil, with a population of ONLY 3.7 million!) It’s around 285 miles away yet, and we expect the winds to keep building today and tomorrow, as we get closer. Hopefully once we get there, the winds will start to shift easterly, and make our passage a bit less bumpy.

To be honest, I could use a break, as these “tossed around” conditions have been going on now for about ten days straight … beginning in the more northern trade winds, then even into the doldrums, which instead of living up to their name, turned into just another heavy squall zone. And now through these more southern trades.

In any case, we’re here and feeling good and knocking them off – one mile at a time. Maybe 48 more hours … which seems like a long time, but I’ve been out here 5 weeks now, so I guess a couple more days will be just fine.

Waves and more wavesOtto the auto-pilot … and the waves … and the clouds.

Last night at 22:27 hours, Bodacious Dream, Franklin and myself all sailed across the equator for the first time. Bo may count her “taxi” ride from her birthplace in Wellington, New Zealand as her first time, but on her own hull, under her own sail – this was her first too. It’s customary out at sea to have a bit of a celebration on such occasions – and those whose first times it is, often get played upon – dumped on with a bowl of leftovers from the galley … oatmeal, mayonnaise and such gooey things … and then made to sing a song or something. Well, last night was a bit more civilized … we shared the last of the cookies, ate chocolate and tossed a few morsels to Neptune. I was just about to open a bottle of special stuff that Joe Harris had thoughtfully provided, when blam – new winds and squalls forced me to put it away. I’ll offer up a toast tonight at sunset for everyone, for all of you, for Neptune and for us three newbies.

So, maybe you’re wondering who’s Franklin? Well, Franklin is my designated guardian … provided to me after this year’s Trans-Pac by my awesome crewmates aboard Bodacious IV. Franklin is a soccer ball complete with a drawn on face! A cousin of Wilson, no doubt … that other soccer ball made famous in the “Cast Away” movie with Tom Hanks.

FranklinSay what you want about him being only a ball, he’s still fun to have around.

In other news, yesterday I spotted and photographed these birds flying overhead. Out here any bird sighting instantly piques your interest. You kinda feel like a cat … “Oh boy! A bird! Come over this way, little bird!” Anyway, I’m not all that good at identifying birds … so, I sent the photo to Tegan Mortimer, our Earthwatch scientist, who wrote that great Science Notes blog post directly preceding this one … and she said …The birds are a type of Tropicbird. I’m not 100% sure what species they are. They’re probably White-Tailed Tropicbirds, though they might be Red-Tailed Tropicbirds. I’ve uploaded the sighting to iNaturalist and put out a request for help with the identification. New Englander that I am, I don’t know much about these birds, so will try to get back to you with some more information.” Good enough for now. Thanks Tegan!

Tropic BirdsWhite-Tailed Tropicbirds or Red-Tailed Tropicbirds?

Put this in the “long_time_at_sea” folder, but there are a LOT of curious sounds out here and they become especially noticeable at night. Also, as time goes on, and especially once fatigue sets in … the sounds take on these eerily human meanings. Most prominent among them, is the “chorus” (which emanates from the whine of the auto-pilot motors) and there is the “old man” whispering incoherent things to me (that would be the humming sounds from the hydro-generator) and so on.

Last night, there was a new sound – a kind of urgent cracking sound. It seemed to come from below decks. I could hear it snap more intensely each time the boat hit a flat trough. I finally dove below and looked around. Turned out it was my Atlantic Cup Co-Skipper  Matt Scharl‘s fishing pole, which had come loose, which caused the tip to whip around with each bounce and slap against the underside of the deck. Whew … another voice in the night put to rest! Grateful it wasn’t anything worse than that. I tell you though, the less sleep you get, and the more repetitive conditions become, the easier it is to understand how people might begin to see and hear things that may or may not really be there. So far, think we’re doing ok on that score.

Well, that’s enough for now. Hopefully in a day or so, conditions will be better and I can sit for a longer period of time and do a more thorough update.

Signing off,

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin
33.08023W, 2.79826S

Tegan’s Science Notes: #1 – Bird Migrations

So, while I’m out here at … oh, let’s see … 32.74017W, 0.61875N, getting pretty close to the equator … and still spending a lot of time dealing with the unruly elements, it seemed like a good time to introduce you to Tegan Mortimer. Tegan is an ocean scientist with Earthwatch who you might remember from the Boston Harbor whale watch videos. Tegan is helping us on the expedition on several levels.

  • Curating our Citizen Science Resources page
  • Advising us on our Explorer Guides (working to get them up there soon!) 
  • Fielding my questions and helping with identification of wildlife sightings
  • Posting those wildlife sightings to a cool site named iNaturalist.org
  • Receiving and recording all the research data that we gather

Thank you Tegan, it’s great to have you along for the trip!

Yellow Rump WarblerNow, if you recall, when I was 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey, a bird landed on the boat. Tegan helped us to identify it as a yellow-rumped warbler. The whole issue of bird migrations struck a spark and we asked Tegan to tell us more about bird migrations – because after all it is that time of year. This then is the first of her series of “Science Notes” … and I think you’ll find it worth your while to follow along … and especially good to share with the young’uns.. Take it away, Tegan!

:: TEGAN’S SCIENCE NOTES: #1 – BIRD MIGRATIONS

A songbird over 200 miles from land? That seems like an unusual sighting! How could a little bird get that far from land? Did it get caught in a storm? It’s certainly true that birds can get blown off course and end up in strange places; this is usually followed by storms of excited bird watchers camped out in the hopes of catching a glimpse of a rare sighting!

Dave’s visit from a Yellow-Rumped Warbler on his way to Bermuda was probably not one of these lost birds. If you read my response in a recent post, then that you know that this tiny songbird is probably migrating; heading south to the Caribbean Islands to spend the winter while food in its northern summer home is hard to find.

Warbler PatternsSome yellow-rumped warblers fly farther than others; the maximum distance is about 2,500 miles from right up at the top of the tundra down to the Caribbean, but that’s really nothing compared to species that fly 8,000 to 12,000 miles in a single migration.

Some yellow-rumped warblers, like those that summer here in New England might only go as far south as the Carolinas, but those that spend the summer farther north tend to go much farther south. Still other varieties can survive a cold winter where other species of warbler would just starve. This is because they have a secret weapon! They are some warblers which are able to digest the waxes found in wax-myrtle berries and bayberries, thus providing themselves a wintertime food source without needing to fly as far south as other warbler species.

Bird AltitudesEvery fall millions of birds ranging in size from small warblers like Bodacious Dream’s visitor, to shorebirds and hawks fly to the Caribbean, Central America and South America to wait out the winter. These huge flocks of migrating birds often go unnoticed because they fly very high up in the air and often fly at night. Flocks of songbirds crossing stretches of water, like the Gulf of Mexico, usually fly around 10,000 feet up, but they have been recorded flying twice as high as that! Migrating birds have even been identified by passenger jets at cruising altitude. An amazing example is the bar-headed goose which migrates over the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas, at heights of 29,500 feet. Even more amazing is that these geese fly over the mountains in a single day!

So how do these birds find their way, especially if they’re flying over the water? It was thought for a very long time that migrating birds flew at night so that they could use the stars for navigation, but then researchers realized that these birds are still able to navigate on cloudy nights. How exactly they navigate over such long distances is still a mystery, but scientists think that they may use many different senses to navigate including using the stars. Pigeons have been proven to be able to use their sense of smell to navigate and birds contain small amounts of the mineral Magnetite which is thought to help them sense the earth’s magnetic fields and see polarized light which can all help to navigate.

Animals that migrate are of special conservation concern because they travel so far and often traverse many countries with different laws. A species that is protected in one country may be hunted heavily in another. Luckily, the yellow-rumped warbler and many other migratory birds are protected by a treaty between the United States and other countries which protects these birds and their habitats as collective natural heritage. Additionally, the yellow-rumped warbler is widespread and has a large population so for conservation purposes it is considered to be of “least concern.” This species is not expected to face extinction any time in the near future. However that does not mean that climate change, habitat destruction, and human impacts won’t have effects on it which could possibly lead to declines or even extinction.

Earthwatch scientists are studying migratory songbirds that nest in the Rocky Mountains. Over the past 5 years these researchers and Earthwatch volunteers have seen a trend which indicates that many of these common and widespread songbirds are less successful nesting closer to human development. Human development is pushing further and further into “wild” land in some parts of the world, what could this mean for even our most common animals and birds?

Birds might be the most remarkable migrators, but they are hardly the only animals that Dave will see mid-migration. Can you think of some other ocean animals that migrate? Where are they going and why are they going there?

(Tegan Mortimer is a scientist with Earthwatch Institute.  Contact Tegan directly at Tegan Mortimer <tmortimer (at) earthwatch (dot) org>)

Dolphins, Candy Wrappers & Question Time

:: LATEST NEWS: Tuesday we were really cooking for a while. Starting around sunset, we had a thrilling night of fast sailing as we rode the winds of the squalls on the inner edge of the cold front. That lasted until about 10 pm – about 4 hours, during which time, we were blasting along at over 10 knots in swirling rains. Let me tell you – most refreshing … and with the winds pushing in the right direction too. But unfortunately, we  missed catching up to and riding the outer bands of the tropical storm Lorenzo … (which has begun to dissipate anyway.) So, as I write this then late Wednesday, we’re drifting along at just 2 to 3 knots.

There may be some westerly winds coming tomorrow, but after that, I’m going to have to head south until I catch the trade winds … one of those “whatever it takes” scenarios. This will likely mean some motor sailing, which will put me back again to the fuel calculations. It’s a long way to Cape Town yet – still about 5700 miles and probably more with the course changes. Overall, I’m just over 1000 miles from Newport, RI, where we started. So, that’s the brief update.

That said, allow me then to catch you up on some recent happenings.

:: DOLPHINS: Sunday, while working below decks, I heard strange noises. I came up to discover a pod of dolphins swimming around the boat. I could see more a ways off in the distance. This was my first sighting of the dolphins on this trip, and what a thrill it always brings to me. They are such thoroughly graceful and magical creatures, swimming wherever and however they want, gliding through the water slowly or swiftly and never once getting hit by the boat. I took some video of them and that’s here. (Be patient, they do appear towards the end.)


A  Dolphin Drop-by …

I believe, from looking in the books that Tegan gave me, that these particular guys were “Pantropical Spotted Dolphins.” Hopefully, Tegan can confirm that when she sees the video.

Pantropical DolphinsPantropical Spotted Dolphins … 

There were just a few that swam near the boat, but I could see a larger group of them … off in the distance, for about an hour – along with other fish jumping and swimming about. Just imagine having a playground that is as expansive as the oceans are? Travel where you want, swim, play, eat and carry on. Find a boat to swim around, an island to visit, and some waves to jump. They seem so free and expressive and connected to each other. Somewhere in my heart, I can’t help but think the dolphins are trying to tell us something – something they want to share with us. I hope it’s something good! I will keep observing and listening and let you know as soon as I get a good translation.

:: CITIZEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT: After so many years of sailing on the Great Lakes and the world’s oceans … (I can’t begin to tell you how many days or how many miles that’s been,) but one thing that has always bothered me, is how fellow sailors have this habit of taking an empty aluminum can, crunching it and then casually tossing it overboard. I would always try to rescue then cans before the crunch and toss happened. Now, I’ve heard guys say that aluminum cans only last 3 days in salt water … but submerged without oxygen, I doubt that very much. But what if it is exposed to oxygen? What then?

Since I occasionally have some time on my hands here, and I have a bucket as well as the small, aluminum wrappers that my consumed Dark Chocolate Hershey’s Kisses come in … I thought … let’s put them all together and see what happens. So, I have floating in a bucket of seawater, one wrapper from a Hershey’s Kiss. It’s been three days now, and I’m seeing some discoloration on it, but it’s entirely still intact and hasn’t disintegrated yet.

Candy Wrappers
Candy Science? 

Now this is pretty thin foil compared to aluminum can … so I don’t think at this point, three days is anywhere near the right number. While I do know that aluminum corrodes quickly in salt water as do so many other things, it’s not going to disappear in three days. Yesterday, while I was closely inspecting the foil, I thought to myself … so why would you throw a can overboard anyway? Why go through the whole process of making a new can from scratch, when the one you just tossed overboard could be recycled and re-fabricated into another can? At the bottom of the ocean, even if it disintegrates, it can still never be recycled? Well, there’s just my personal take on the subject. I’m going to keepthat foil in the bucket and change the water ever couple of days. I’ll let you know if it’s still there when I get to Cape Town!

:: ASK DAVE A QUESTION (#1): I’ve received a number of questions (many from kids) that I’d like to begin to take some time to answer here. I really enjoy the way young inquisitive minds work, and I’ll bet some of these questions and answers will prove interesting to older friends and to adults too.

Here’s the first one … “How do you sleep and drive at the same time?”

Dave's TetherWell, the first step is putting the boat on autopilot – a very critical part of modern-day solo sailing – (and I will explain it in more detail very soon.) But just because the autopilot is steering the boat doesn’t mean I can stop being aware of everything that’s happening. Sleeping out here is not the same as how you sleep at home. Here, I just nap – maybe 15 to 20 minutes at a time. I have two spots I like to curl up on the boat. One is in the cockpit where I wear my harness and tether when I’m sleeping, so if I have to jump up in a hurry, I don’t trip over something and end up overboard. This spot also allows me to see the instruments, the helm and the waves or stars at night.

Dave's Alarm ClockTypically, we figure that the horizon is about 15 minutes away. By that we mean, at the speed we are traveling relative to the closing distance of a ship still just over the horizon (the curve of the earth) the two vessels would take about 20 minutes to cross each other. That means that any ship that I can’t see that is just over the horizon, is about 20 minutes away. To keep me in the game then, I set a small kitchen timer for 15 minutes and rest my head down.

Over time, I’ve also gotten very good at “feeling” the boat, especially when the sailing is smooth and steady. I’ve become quick to sense when anything is “different,” at which point, I will get up and check it out. It might be a sound, a different breeze on my feet or face, a change in the angle of the boat or a shift in motion relative to the waves … all of these variables get ingrained in your sailor’s senses and when any of them change, you know you have to change something with the boat.

My other favorite resting spot is down below – on the floor and in-between two walls. I’m pretty comfortable there on my camping mattress. I can still see my instruments and I can sense the water flowing under the boat as I’m lying on top of its lower skin. It’s actually a pretty amazing place to sleep. Sometimes when I’m at home, I wish I could sleep there!

So, that’s it for the moment. I’ll be back soon with another update. We just got one from Tegan Mortimer too, on Bird Migrations … so expect that one shortly, as well.

Also, as the certainty that you will see these updates on Facebook gets sketchier, I encourage you to sign up for our Email List.

Thank you, and take care …

- Dave & Bodacious Dream
(as of 10.24.13 @ 2:35PM (CDT)
051.69974W, 30.06824N 

Storm-Riding, Rain Squalls and Science

The last 36 hours or so have been a bit frustrating and a bit exciting too. On one hand, we’ve had little or no wind which has made the going slow and with little cloud cover, the days have been quite hot. On the other hand, we’ve been monitoring a growing tropical depression, which has developed into a storm called Lorenzo. Presently, Lorenzo is south and east of me, and the interesting recommendation this morning from our online naval guidance system, Commanders Weather is … “Let’s go try to catch it!”

Weather _LorenzoLorenzo appears to the right there …

STORM-RIDING: Now, I know that may not sound too smart … and in most cases it wouldn’t be. But in our particular case, and at this particular time, we are trying to get to a point where I can pick up the NE trade winds and ride them down to the waypoint where we will enter and cross the “doldrums.” (The doldrums, being the term for that low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are almost always calm.) So, in order to move forward, we need whatever wind we can get, and if I can use the cold front that is supposed to pass through today to push me in that direction, and so catch the outside bands of Lorenzo, then it can help pull me east, which is just what we want to do.

With tropical storms and hurricanes, there is never a truly good side to them, but what is considered the generally navigable quadrant is the forward left corner. So if the storm is moving, as Lorenzo is to the North and East, then the left forward corner is where Bodacious Dream and I can hitch a ride around the underside to the East. Guess we’ll have to see if this works or not. Right now, the winds from the cold front, which began to pass over us just an hour ago, are still less than 8 knots, but we expect them to build to 15 and maybe 20 later this afternoon. If that happens, I’ll sail those winds to the Southeast, and hopefully catch those outer bands of Lorenzo.

sunset1_550Sunset Passing …

WATER CONSERVATION: Yesterday, as the day went on, we had a squall pass over us. What a grand and refreshing thing it is to stand in the middle of the ocean in a fresh water rain! It’s easy to lose track of how important the little things in life are, until you don’t have them.

I have not discussed this before, but Bodacious Dream has no onboard freshwater shower, so cleaning up (or “bathing” – if you want to get real liberal with the term) involves using a bit of saltwater, followed by just a bit of fresh water on the face. I don’t want to use up too much fresh water for such purposes … as I’m never sure how much I’ll need for drinking on the trip to Cape Town. I also have to keep in mind, that I’m only into Day 6 from Bermuda of what is likely going to be a 40-day trip to Cape Town. So, the 60 gallons of fresh water I have will be pretty close to gone by then. I plan to drink or use up to 1 gallon a day, but we always want to take precautions in case something were to go wrong. What if one of the jugs springs a leak? What if I get a cut and have to wash it regularly … or who knows? What if the mast breaks and I had to drift across the ocean? What if? What if? What if? This is the song of the sea, and it is why the art of careful preparation is so important for extended adventures like this.

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What I see when my eyes drift up …

CITIZEN SCIENCE: In my role as a fledgling citizen scientist, we’re taking regular readings for Earthwatch Institute. These include filtering water, observing debris in the ocean, watching for wild life, taking readings with the “Secchi Disc,” as well as using these updates to help educate people on the interesting ways of the ocean.

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As far as debris goes, I’ve only seen two pieces of plastic so far. One looked like a storage box or container, the other some ort of plastic cylinder. I’m sure neither were buoys marking fishing nets. I’ve taken pictures of them with the geo-tagging camera, so they can be logged onto the iPad and when I’m next in port, I’ll upload the information to the research sites.

Take a look at our CITIZEN SCIENCE PAGE … it’s chock full of great resources, put together for us by our Earthwatch ocean scientist, Tegan Mortimer.

In fact, I heard from Tegan the other day, about that Yellow Rump Warbler that joined me onboard a couple hundred miles off the coast of New Jersey. Here’s what she had to say.

Screen shot 2013-10-22 at 2.58.11 PM“I’m happy to report that Dave’s bird sighting has been uploaded to iNaturalist and has had the species id confirmed which makes it a “research grade” observation. This means that it will be included in a global biodiversity database, which provides scientists and managers information about the distribution and movement of animals. So very exciting!

As unusual as this sighting seems, it’s actually probably a bird, which was on its fall migration from Canada down to the Caribbean, maybe got a little tired and caught a little ride with Dave to get a rest! Bird migrations are pretty interesting (and migration in general) so I’m writing up a little piece for some educational background on it.”

Thanks Tegan, we look forward to reading the piece!

So, enough for now. I have to get back to business here … and catch up on our gusty “friend” Lorenzo. Be back soon to tell you what happens.

We all know how spotty Facebook can be, so make sure you’re getting the major updates by signing up for the email list here! Thx!

- Dave & Bodacious Dream

Coordinates as of 12:30 UTC (06:30 CDT)
054.5947W, 33.3195N 
Our Speed Over Ground (SOG) – 5.5 knots.
Our Course Over Ground (COG) – 130 Wind speed – 8 knots.
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