January 12, 2010 – Stanley, Falkland Islands
By Dr. Warren Buck with an introduction by Herb McCormick
Following in the sea boots of oceanographer Michael Reynolds and sea-ice specialist Harry Stern, Professor Warren Buck of the University of Washington/Bothell is the third onboard scientist to join the crew of Ocean Watch. A nuclear physicist and the chancellor emeritus of UW/Bothell, Warren is also a seasoned sailor who cruised the East Coast of the US aboard his 31-foot trimaran, La Gaviota. Today Warren takes the helm of our crew logs for a piece about his experiences sailing aboard Ocean Watch. So, with no further ado, here’s Warren:
The Crew of Ocean Watch by Professor Warren Buck
I have been in many a classroom in my day; and even more classrooms have I taught in. However I have not been in as exciting a classroom as the one aboard Ocean Watch.
The mission of the Around the Americas via the sailing vessel Ocean Watch is to call attention to our oceans around the North and South American continents. To examine the health of the wild life, the air, the sea, the land as it abuts the water. In addition, the Around the Americas team is drawing attention to the fact that both North and South America form one single island. This is not your typical sailing voyage or research expedition; but rather, the Around the Americas is all of that plus a diplomatic mission in that where ever Ocean Watch goes the crew engage the local citizens on the vision and mission results, and updates. This is a courageously new expedition approach to oceans that has already covered approximately 18,000 miles and is just over half way to its goal of returning to the port, Seattle, it left seven months ago.
I have had the good fortune to join the crew for the Mar del Plata to the Falkland Islands passage. The only preconception I had was that this particular passage could be rough and challenging. There was a day when it was rough and challenging in terms of weather; but, I must say that this crew is the best and made the challenging times as digestible as possible. This is where I really saw the Ocean Watch as a classroom.
The crew has a great deal of expertise in journalism, photography, sailing, science, and problem solving. There is Herb McCormick who is one of the premier journalists in yachting who has visited this part of the world before in going around Cape Horn years past. There is David Thoreson who is a superb digital photographer in both still and video. He too experienced being on a boat going around the Horn with near hurricane winds pinning them for hours. There is Michael Reynolds, who was not aboard while I sailed with this crew, but whose spirit pervades the ship. Michael designed, runs, and maintains the data collecting from oxygen in the water to aerosols in the atmosphere.
There is Horacio Rosell, a native Argentine, who has been involved in BOC around the world races for decades and is a good friend of Mark, our captain. In addition to Horacio interpreting and helping to navigate Argentine culture and bureaucracy, Horacio is also a photographer in his own right. There is Dave Logan who is the first mate and the go-to guy for any and all issues with the boat operations or maintenance.
Finally, there is Mark Schrader, our captain. Mark has circumnavigated the globe twice single handed; and, is the main force behind keeping the schedule and administrating the entire voyage.
What have I learned?
I have been reminded more than ever that good photography can come “naturally” to one who has the desire to take the leap into the subject. By this I mean one has to do more than think about doing it. Taking photos in pitching seas even! Experience in doing seems to pay off for these guys. The work is fabulous and it looks so easy from my vantage; but, I could never reproduce the images that emerge from Thoreson’s camera for example. Then he downloads these images so they can be emailed for publication. He is teaching me persistence no matter what the conditions.
Can you imagine typing on a computer on a boat as the boat lurches and rolls? Well, Herb can do that and he does it every day just to make sure the news of Ocean Watch gets out to the public. His writing is professional and has character to it. Without him knowing, he has taught me dedication to communications. I am typing this while underway and about to hit a squall just north of the Falklands.
Logan has dry wit and downplays his role; though, I must say that everyone depends mightily on his talents everyday of the entire voyage. I see him backing up folks without them really being fully aware at times that he is doing that. He even takes scientific data without fanfare. He has taught me humility.
Horacio has taught me to enjoy life always no matter what others think.
Michael has taught me that I am not cut out for data taking as he can on a boat. I am not the great assistant I am sure he would have preferred.
Mark is a great yachtsman, leader, and communicator. He requested and was granted an audience with the acting governor of the Falklands to talk about Around the Americas and Mark’s previous landing in the Falklands. Mark makes sure to call his dad everyday. He has taught me much yet one thing that stands out is always communicate with those you love.
I don’t believe that any of these men realize they are teaching me these things, but they are. When I engageeach one of these crew members, they reveal so much of their talents and life to me. This is a classroom extraordinaire and I, for one, feel very privileged to be so close to this special and historic voyage of Ocean Watch.
- Warren Buck with an introduction by Herb McCormick and a photo by David Thoreson