This week marked the end of my time in Tillamook helping with the subtidal survey. Just like many of the other projects I have helped with, just because I am leaving doesn’t mean the sampling is done and the team will have to round up some volunteers to fill my place for the rest of the sampling days. Nobody seems too excited about that, to say the least.
This week in Tillamook turned out very different than my previous visits, mostly due to some thick fog causing problems. We quickly found out that fog, main channel sites, divers, and safety don’t mix. Nobody was hurt, or even close to getting injured, but we were kept on our toes by constantly peering through the mist trying to make out were other boats where in relation to our divers.
The week started out really great. On Monday it was “warm” and the sites were short and sandy. We ended up getting a whopping 16 done by about noon so once the wind picked up we called it a day and headed in. It was strange to be done sampling and measuring at 3pm because normally we have been out working until 4-5pm. After we all had a little time to ourselves, my coworkers and I went to a nearby blueberry u-pick and got a ton of super delicious berries. Standing out in the sun among the rows of berries was very relaxing but made me miss my garden back at school. I only got 1/4 of a flat because I was unsure I could eat all the berries before I need to leave in a week. I’d never had fresh blueberries before and I was very surprised at how different they are from store-bought blueberries (something I have never been a huge fan of). After picking blueberries, everyone (including the divers!) went out to dinner to celebrate my coworker Natalies birthday. It was fun to chat with everyone outside of work and we finally got to know the divers a little better.
The rest of the week was a little crazier. The fog rolled in right about the time we started sampling which made the whole situation a tad stressful. We were in the middle of the main channel that runs from Garibaldi harbor to the ocean and our samples were taking longer than the day before. After we got a few “yahoos” speed by us in the fog (a little too close for comfort) we decided to stick to the edges of the channel while the fog was around. It helped a little, but some people still were going around really fast and didn’t really know where they were going. The current and wind picked up a lot around 12pm again so we had to call the day early. The last site we did was so difficult because of the current that the divers had to stop halfway through to change tanks. By the time they got back it was obvious that we were not anchored and had dragged the dredge and sample ring around in the water so we couldn’t continue on that site. We only got 10 samples that day, which is much less than the 13-15 we have been getting in Tillamook.
Wednesday was another foggy day but we were prepared with lights and airhorns from the beginning and stayed on the edges of the channel. There were still yahoos running around and making us pay close attention to our surroundings. After we set a few points on the chase boat we got a call from the dredge boat that someone had stolen our gas can overnight. but because they had already left the docks they would rather get started on the points with the gas they still had in the motor. So the chase boat went back to the docks and began our search for a gas can. We checked the marina store: nope; we checked the closest gas station: nope; the only other gas station: yep, but only a 2 gallon can. We got that because it was better than nothing then headed to the last place in Garibaldi, the single grocery store. They also had a 2-gallon can but it was more expensive so we kept the one we had. We then returned to the marina to get marine grade gas (can’t have ethanol) and headed back out. The rest of the day went much like tuesday: lots of fog, high currents, and a quick wind pickup. We finally called it a day when the divers were obviously having a tough time keeping the dredge in one spot due to the current. One of our safety protocols is that the divers can at any time decide to stop based on the conditions in the water. While they didn’t directly tell us the current was too strong, it was apparent they were having a lot of trouble so we called it for their sake even though it was only 11am.
Thursday and Friday I had off (yay 4 day weekend!) so I went to Cape Perpetua and hiked around. Unfortunately the fog obscured my view but it was a nice walk nonetheless. I also made a blackberry pie for some interns that left this weekend. I have also been spending a lot of time working on my presentation because this coming week I have 2 more days of fieldwork before I get some time in the office to work on it with Tony. Hopefully I’ll get enough done before then that those 2 days won’t be too hectic.