Day 6: GLAD Expedition – 2 boats, 5 hours, 90 drifters…

Two small boats.

Five hours.

Ninety drifters.

The time from breakfast to lunch was filled with the long-awaited “S1” deployment.

Using nothing more than our small boat’s compass and our own mariners’ intuition (with some pre-loaded GPS waypoints on a hand-held Garmin), we dotted our little patch of Gulf with a third of the payload.

The small boat “Tatiana” being loaded. R/V F.G. Walton Smith crew members pictured are Bill (L) and Mike (R) (Photo by: Nathan Laxague)

Both loaded small boats. (Photo by: Tamay Ozgokmen)

“Tatiana” retrieving drifters offloaded by the Walton Smith before its deployment run (Photo by: Nathan Laxague)

As described in Day Four’s edition of the “Daily CARTHEan,” the famous “S” deployments are done in ten parts. Each part, or node, contains three pods of three drifters apiece. One pod per node is taken care of by the Walton Smith itself, while the remaining two are divided between two independently operating small boats. When a new node is begun, both boats return to the Walton Smith for re-stocking of drifters. “S1” down. “S2” and “S3” to go.

Plan for the initial “S1” deployment (and rubric for “S” deployments to come). (Image by: Ed Ryan)

At the time of my writing this, our journey is taking us north to the city that never sleeps- Gulfport, Mississippi. Estimations have us reaching those pristine shores sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning. The Walton Smith needs precious fuel and its cook needs precious produce. Mike, our on-boat technician, requires more cotter pins for drifter construction, so it’ll be good to stop off. I’ve also heard that Gulfport has good oysters. Hopefully we can test these claims (and taste their clams).

The gap that is the remainder of our day will allow us a chance to take stock and organize data. Come Tuesday, with Gulfport behind us, we’ll take to the task of blanketing every naked scrap of deck space with another deployment’s load of drifters. But now, we exhale.

Nathan Laxague signing off (somewhere between lunch and dinner).