Welcome to the web site for Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group! Reide Corbett and J.P. Walsh from East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute lead the team.
Check out our research in/on wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, shelves and groundwater.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rockin’ and Rollin’ in the Drake Passage

Probably the most notorious area in all the oceans, the Drake Passage
is the part of the Southern Ocean between the southern tip of South
America and the Antarctic Peninsula. Violent storm systems can develop
quickly and/or move through this area creating brutal conditions.
Massive waves, powerful winds and complex currents can create the worst
nightmare for mariners. The Passage is named after Sir France Drake,
although he was not the first one to cross it.

Ever since watching a famous old black-and-white documentary called "
'Round the Horn" narrated by sailor Irving Johnson, I have had the
greatest respect for the ocean and particularly the Drake. I encourage
you to maybe google and read up on the Drake to learn more and see some
pictures and video, maybe even watch 'Round the Horn. Trust me-
you'll be scared in your own living room.

So far, the weather during our research expedition has been incredible,
with amazingly calm seas and often sunny skies. Many of the crew have
indicated that we've had the best, most consistent weather they have
ever seen. And the Drake has been kind. There are small waves at the
moment (~5-6 ft) passing from the side of us ("on our beam"), so the
ship is rolling some as we motor full-steam ahead (11.5 kn or about 12
mph). To give you a better idea of what I mean by "rolling", I'll
describe a little (and see pics). As one tries to walk down a
passageway, they will be forced to one side of the ship and then the
other, and when going up or down stairs, you better be holding on.
There is a commonly stated expression "Have one hand for you and one
hand for the ship", because you never know when the ship will take a
large roll.

Today, most scientists have been in their cabins, resting, enjoying
some reading or movies. After dinner tonight, we played a large game of
Balderdash. Because of the risk of a "rogue wave" (a large sudden
wave created be waves combining), people are discouraged from venturing
out on the main deck and all doors are "dogged shut", meaning they have
steel latches around them which are secured tight. Also, everything
must be tied down well, because if the weather worsens, things will go

The forecast is looking good, but you never know. And ocean-going
folks tend to be an especially superstitious, so I won't jinx the trip
by even suggesting it will be easy. But let's hope it stays
manageable. When it gets bad, doing the simplest tasks becomes very
difficult... walking around requires much effort and, if eating (if
you're not sick), your plate of food and drink is likely to go airborne.
Hopefully, we avoid that. I'll let you know how it went in a couple

1 comment:

  1. We are thinking of you all and will look forward to hearing how things go!