Sunday, August 19, 2018

Aspiring Young Sailors Will Note...

..that putting paper towels down the head will not endear you with the parental units.

Just when you think a kid who lived full time on a boat from age 1 to 7 has got the basics down, Eric went and pulled that doozy.

The wad of paper towel made it past the pump, where it would have been *relatively* easy to clear, and into the exhaust hose, where it definitely was not.

Alisa, who is officially Doing More of the Engineering, was the one to pull off the hose and suffer the pressurized filial shit spray as a result.

Thanks, hon.

So, it turned into something *fun* for us to do while the gale raged outside. Alisa and I pulled the old exhaust hose on the head (NOT as easy as it sounds) and replaced it with the new hose that WE ALWAYS KEEP ON HAND. (Emphasis in the original.)

Only good side: Alisa's homemade pizza was delayed by the carrying on. So the boys got top ramen for dinner, and after the head imbroglio was over, A. and I got to sit down and enjoy both of the pizzas, in their entirety, on our very own.

(In Eric's somewhat tepid defence, the hose was clearly overdue for replacement. They get scaled up and progressively constricted over time.)

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Meanwhile, the weather outside is completely filthy. No berry picking today, though there were a couple lulls when we likely could have pulled it off. We've settled into the low-vis phase of the blow now, with rain and general airborne moisture obscuring the horizon, and gusts pummeling us this way and that.

Amazing how fast a day can go when you're stuck on the boat.

~~
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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Alaskan Fisheries in the Global Warming Present

This summer of research that we've been pursuing from Galactic was motivated by the collapse of the Pacific cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska. Our work is aimed at understanding how young fish are faring post-collapse, and thus what the outlook is for recovery of the stock.

There's an interesting side to that stock collapse, in that we have a good scientific understanding of what caused it.

Cod in Alaska are very intensively studied and managed, so there are good data for understanding how the collapse happened in terms of the fate of different ages of fish within the population. This evidence points very clearly to the effects of the 2014-2016 North Pacific marine heatwave on younger fish, which apparently could not find enough food to meet their increased metabolic needs in the warmer waters.

An entirely separate body of research tells us that the heatwave was a result of human changes to the atmosphere, most notably our carbon dioxide output. Our best scientific understanding is that you can't get the North Pacific as warm as it was in 2016 without these human changes to the atmosphere.

So while cod populations have waxed and waned through the centuries in response to natural changes in the climate, we find ourselves in new territory, where the climate it outside the envelope of natural variability. The poor returns for many sockeye salmon populations in the Gulf this summer put us on notice that the fisheries repercussions will likely not be restricted to cod.

For as long as I've been working as a marine biologist the Alaskan marine science community has mostly dealt with human-caused changes to the climate as a pressing concern of the near future, the impacts of which would become apparent in a few decades. Suddenly we find that that future is now. For individuals and communities that were counting on income from cod or sockeye salmon the impacts of global warming are now immediate and concrete. And we have a very good scientific understanding that these are only the first shocks, and that the rate and magnitude of climate change affecting Alaskan fisheries will increase dramatically as the years go by.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thoughts on Turning Fifty

One: I can give up on any notions of self improvement. What I am at this point is what I've got to work with.

Two: There could be few finer gifts on the big day than an unexpectedly fast sail along a rugged coast in diamond-sharp sunshine, getting us to our lonely anchorage with plenty of time for a leisurely birthday dinner. With the family, that best company of all.

We had two days in Kujulik Bay, using it merely as a convenient anchorage as on the outbound leg we found it to be one of the few bays that was useless for beach seining baby cod.

Two days because a big blow was forecast and Kujulik was a known and trusted anchorage. And blow it did. A shroud-vibrating, water-smoking kind of blow, for a few hours there.

Later when things had calmed down we got the ship's people ashore on an early season blueberry mission. It is heartwarming to observe the simple joy that searching for berries gives the boys. We came away with enough for two rounds of baked goods. And noted the suspicious autumnal cast to some of the maritime tundra plants.

Today...we had a ripper, honest forty knots kind of sail down the coast. Triple-reefed main and nothing else for much of the day. Waves steep due to the opposing current. Stack on the diesel cabin heater came adrift because of a mishap with the sheet when the jib was being furled. Always so easily avoided in retrospect, a mishap like that. It's already back in place, though, a few inches shorter than it used to be.

And, just like that we are back in Port Wrangell, a marvelous stone bowl of an anchorage, carved right out of the living mountainside.

Four sets for us tomorrow, plus some baited camera work. And Elias has been making noise about fishing for dollies afterwards.

~~
This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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