Day 2: GLAD Expedition – Nathan Laxague

For the first time in my life, I woke to find myself surrounded on all sides by water with no land in sight. We were definitely not in the Keys (or Kansas, for that matter) anymore. The look of the ocean had changed from its previously pale, shallow aqua to a deep and pristine cerulean.

For a span of time that lasted about half an hour after the conclusion of breakfast, we were all able to enjoy a rare occurence: outdoor weather that was more pleasant than the air conditioned interior’s. Alas, the sun did its work and quickly rendered the 01 deck a toaster oven, driving our work inside. To this end, drifter construction has certainly begun to fire on all cylinders. Every usable scrap of space on the Walton Smith’s main deck (and a significant portion of the 01 deck) is currently occupied by a tethered nest of assembled and GPS-transmitting drifters.

It hasn’t been all cotter pin cuts and fiberglass splinters, however; this morning a pod of dolphins were spotted swimming alongside the ship. Some hopped the wake off the port stern (hunting flying fish, it seemed) and one zig-zagged in front of the starboard hull.

Our position as of 19:45 GMT is a hundred or so miles west of Punta Gorda (let’s hope loose lips do not, in fact, sink ships), so this leaves us with a little more than a day to get to our immediate destination southwest of the De Soto Canyon. The modellers are taking full advantage of the time, either tapping away at lines of code or sternly looking at calculated trajectories. We’ve also gotten the drifter construction down to a tight little science and- if I may say so- the food on board remains excellent (knock on wood; dinner’s soon), so I think everyone’s in a pretty good mood. One exciting prospect for the hours to come is the installation of a marine LED array on the starboard side for night-time camera operation. I’m sure that you find the in situ data acquisition storyline enthralling, so I’ll do my best to get you the details as they become illuminated.

Nathan Laxague signing off (somewhere between wide-eyed enthusiasm and bleary-eyed weariness).