Official Vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Ernestina Logbook Page

Date: Saturday, October 5, 2002
Emerson College
Day 2 of 3

This morning we woke to predicted southerly winds, Force 5 on the Beaufort scale. Our plan for today therefore is to cover emergency drills as required for our Sailing School Vessel voyages, to review our marine biological explorations, and after lunch to go ashore exploring the intertidal zone on a beach in Eastern Gloucester Harbor.

The rolling seas yesterday and last night have had an effect on everyone; folks are feeling the fatigues of all the little adjustments your body makes at sea to compensate and maintain balance. One of our shipmates had hip surgery recently and is opting, with regret, to forego the rest of the trip and take care of his healing hip. The Harbormaster graciously agrees to assist with transportation, and Trip Leader Alan Hankin accompanies the student ashore to the train station. By the time Alan returns, we’ve run a fire drill and are mustering to begin a Man Overboard drill.

Once the drills are complete, we take a bit of time to review what the students have seen and done so far. We compare the health of Gloucester Harbor’s waters to that of Boston Harbor’s, with an overview from MaryHelen about recent changes in local water quality. Gloucester’s water treatment plant treats water to a primary level, but the outfall pipe here, as in Boston, has been extended far into Massachusetts Bay for greater diffusion of effluents. This, in addition to extensions and enhancements to the city’s sewer system, has greatly improved harbor and estuarine water quality around Cape Ann in recent decades. We consider this in relation to the species we saw in our otter trawl net yesterday, and collect additional samples of plankton and other water data today.

The morning has flown by and, right after Laurie’s delicious lunch, Fred and Jay take the small boat and pull our scallop dredge across the Harbor bottom. The first dredge brings up a whole load of nothing, as does the second. Students and crew alike speculate as to possible reasons why the bottom here could be so clean. Quickly, then, we’re getting students and gear prepared for our excursion ashore. Taximan Fred runs 6 shuttle runs to the nearby beach [accessed by special permission from local friends], which takes an hour. Students on shore begin exploring the intertidal zone with Alan, and students onboard help arrange science gear for further sampling.

Our beach visit is a great experience! We drag the seine net along near the beach, and catch silversides and a small menhaden. People are finding green crabs, rock crabs, the Asian Crabs Alan’s been hoping to find for study in his classroom aquaria, sea lettuce, some mysterious orange eggs clustered amidst bladder rack on a low-tide-exposed boulder near shore. Encrusting Bryozoans, various small shrimp, blue mussel shells, slipper shells, and more. MaryHelen takes a cohort over toward the sea wall, and pawing through the rack we find dog whelks, periwinkle snails, living barnacles, and small yellowish snails camoflaugued amidst the bladder rack. We have a chance to marvel some more at the regenerative Sea Star. One student finds a number of mysterious small holes in the sand, each encased in a short sandy stack, and together we wonder if they’re made by worms, or clams, or something else entirely. An interesting puzzle for further investigation. Perhaps that student will identify and research the life cycle of the unknown sand-stacking critters beneath the sand.

It’s too soon, but we have to go back to the boat. Alan braves the waves once again to help Fred keep the small boat off the shore, and the shuttle runs being again. Only 2 toes are sliced by our sharp-shelled beach hosts; we quickly dress each in iodine solution and a clean bandaid. (As much for fun as necessity, one student is carried in a two-man ‘rescue seat’ hold out to the small boat!).

We can smell dinner in the making as the last shuttleboat returns to our home schooner. MaryHelen gathers the student company for a brief brainstorming session about their class projects: each has to design a research project he/she can complete this semester, investigating some question they have about the marine environment along the Massachusetts coastline. Right now, despite encouragement to focus and be specific, their questions are very broad, encompassing global warming and other earth-wide puzzles. We can imagine these film majors will be tackling MAJOR questions in their feature films and documentaries in years to come!

After dinner, while galley cleanup is tackled below, a few climb into bunks early, while most of us gather round the galley scuttle to play guitars and sing. We swap songs, from old sea chanteys to familiar contemporary folk-pop songs, for over an hour. The stars just keep getting brighter overhead, and that cooling (now steady northwesterly) breeze is not quite strong enough to blow us into our warm bunks—not 'til around 2100, anyway. At that point, the thought of an 0400 wakeup for A-watch is enough to pull us down below for some much-welcome sleep.

Anchor watch, dotted with stars, is also graced by a glowing green minnow-trap dangled over the rail--full of ctenophores, dinoflagellates, and other bioluminescing marine organisms.

It’s been a great day, tucked in this corner of the sea.

Captain: Sophie Morse
Program Coordinator: MaryHelen Gunn

We would like to thank Lotus and IBM for donation of software, hardware and funding to enable regular electronic updates from the ship.

NOAA Chart is provided courtesy of Maptech using Cruising Navigator 4.3 and grabbing the image using Grabit Pro 6.02.

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Copyright 1997-2002
Schooner Ernestina
89 North Water Street, P.O. Box 2010, New Bedford, MA 02741-2010
phone 508.992.4900 -- fax 508.984.7719

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