Midway Weather

Sunday, August 3, 2014

So long old friend

I don't think I'll see you again.  It was great to spend some time with you.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Government bail-out

The situation on station is getting a bit challenging with the lack of regular replenishments.  We've been over a month without fresh fruit and I'm starting to get worried about scurvy in the island residents.  Fortunately the Coast Guard agreed to fly out some critical supplies and move some personnel.  Unfortunately an engine failure on landing prevented the plane from taking off the same night as planned.  The benefit was having many hours to update my replacement instead of having to cram everything into a few minutes.

USCG C-130 at the old Naval Air Field - Midway hanger

Flying the Coast Guard 'colors' at the Midway House
 I fully expected that the repair wouldn't be able to happen locally and we'd need another plane. So imagine my surprise when we were ordered the airfield the following day to embark.

First Officer walking the wing between the props

Walking the left wing, to the right of the prop
Homeward bound! So many emotions ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stranded: Day 30

We've now missed two regular flights because of the contractor difficulties and are starting to run low on food.  Fortunately there is a caveat to the refuge rules that allows fishing, if it's for sustenance.

Yesterday we took one of the boats offshore and trolled around the 300' depth line.  There aren't any fishing rods on the island, so instead they've attached lengths of parachute cord to large hooks and secured them to the boat cleats.

We were almost immediately gratified with a zing on the line and worked furiously to pull in the line by hand.  Unfortunately two sharks got to our fish first and took off the back two thirds of what was probably a 70 lbs wahoo.  Then we hooked one of the Galapagos sharks - which was exciting.  The bugger had taken the hook pretty good, so it was quite a fight to get it out and let him go.

By the end of the afternoon we'd kept 3 and 1/3 wahoos, one rainbow [threw him back] and a shark.  When we got back to the pier, a few experts sliced up the wahoo into different types of cuts.  They also kept the heads an most of the organs, since the Thai guys will use them to cook with.  The rest of us gorged on sashimi so fresh there was still blood oozing from it - yum!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stranger danger

Last week we received the NOAA R/V Hi'ialakai for half a day.  They swung by on their cruise through the NW Hawaiian islands that happens several times a year to pick up and drop off researchers.  On this occasion, the vessel was asked to bring out some strategic supplies from Honolulu since we've been without regular transportation.

They all seemed like good folks and it was a shame to have them leave so quickly.  Though in past years the crew has raised hell, causing them to usually be restricted to their vessel.
I had a great time chatting with their Medical Officer/PA and got shown around the ship's 'sick quarters' in just a few minutes.  Of the 18 NOAA vessels, only 4 have a PA on board.  Of the 4 large research vessels, only this one has a dive compression chamber on board; used to treat decompression sickness from SCUBA accidents.
Because of the ongoing transportation difficulty, I got offered the chance to cruise back to Honolulu aboard the vessel, but wasn't able to get my replacement to Honolulu before the boat had to set sail.  So I'll have to miss out on the adventure of a lifetime, spending 9 days cruising through the NW Hawaiian islands - a place most people don't even realize exists.

Cute chicks

baby White Tern on a branch

chick and mum
just hatched Tropic Bird

juvenile Tropic Bird

back of juvenile Tropic Bird, lying down

Over the line

Back in the military days, there were strictly held lines between enlisted and officers.  It went so far that there was a rope used to mark the east and west side of the recreational north beach.  Punishment was swift and severe for transgressions across the boundary.

The other day I stumbled across a beautiful trail laid through the sand.  One of the FWS folks said it looked like the wanderings of a turtle looking to lay eggs - on my side of the beach.  Though it's refreshing to see the species bouncing back [this would be the second known nest on the island], it would mean closing the only open beach to human access.  Three sides of the island are already restricted access to allow the wildlife to be unmolested.  Now the 'officers' may restrict access to this part of the beach as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sunset at the beach

The other day I sat down on the beach to enjoy the sunset.  After a few minutes of enjoying the view, I got distracted by a tickle on my hand.  The ghost crab had a nice meal from the side of my hand.

 As the sky darkened, I retreated back into the fore-dune and meditated with a fire; until I got bit by another crab.