30 April, 1999


After inconclusively investigating the deeper channel that cut through the two parts of the ridge (Hook Ridge looks like a “hook,” with a long shank separated from the barb portion by a channel, in which a plume was observed to flow), it was time to implement the second part of the plan. Dr. Klinkhammer began the ZAPS descent into the caldera, which would allow the piggybacked “Challenger” pump to filter over 1000 liters of plume water in the two hours it would be suspended in the plume. On the way back to the surface, we obtained water samples with ZAPS’ on-board rosette system for analyses of trace metals, helium, and salinity. After its ascent to the surface, I called it a morning.

After I woke up, I was able to talk with senior research technician Jay Simpkins and marine instrument technician Kathryn Brooksforce about their careers in oceanography. I found out that this cruise is quite exceptional for them, because, though they are married to each other and both work for OSU’s COAS (College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences), they are rarely ever assigned to the same cruises. When I asked how often they are out on cruises, Jay said that they each average between 2-3 months per year, and often their trips do not coincide. Was it hard on their marriage? Kathryn shared that they always said farewells to each other by saying “see you in a few days,” even though often their cruises lasted months. She said that the only time that it was really hard was the time that Jay was on a submarine under the north polar ice cap and spotty messages were appearing on the internet that indicated that there might be some difficulty with the recovery of the ice team by the sub. But they made it through that and are now coming up on 17 years together. I’ll share Kathryn’s secret at the end, after I introduce her:

While talking to Kathryn, I found it interesting that two of our oceanographers were professional artists Chi Meredith (who I already introduced) and Kathryn. They say the sea has a way. . . Kathryn got her start in oceanography in 1982, when she was working as a firefighter and an EMT on the Oregon coast. Offered a position as a marine technician for an OSU marine geologist, Kathryn literally “learned the ropes!” (I should know, she taught me a few knots - - Kathryn is like that…she has much experience at sea and is always willing to share it to help you become more proficient at what you were trying to do). She began her oceanography career by splicing ropes and moved on to learning the ins and the outs of many types of instruments that oceanographers use to study the ocean. Kathryn now works for 3 researchers, handling pre- and post-cruise logistics and post-cruise data analysis. Kathryn has assisted scientists on 18 different ships over the years, with approximately 60 cruises under her belt. When she began, there weren’t that many women working on research ships. Now, she says, sweeping her hand around, “take a look. . . “ The room is equally filled with men and women.

Jay began his career in oceanography after finishing his mechanical engineering degree, but it wasn’t a direct route. After hanging out in industry for a little bit, Jay was out mountain climbing in Oregon in 1976 when a buddy of his told him about a cruise to the Drake Passage that was shorthanded. He went as a volunteer and was eventually hired. He’s been working for 22 years now as a research assistant in physical oceanography for OSU (for the same scientist!). Jay has accumulated many interesting anecdotes from these years (Kathryn has hers as well), ranging from the humorous to the perilous. I heard just a few of his stories, including his 77 days aboard a nuclear sub and a typhoon that he couldn’t quite outrun before their 275 foot research vessel was given a scary 55 degree roll off Tahiti. When I asked him which cruise he liked best, he described the ice camps that he has helped run in the Arctic. One of these involved going to Spitzbergen (Svaldbard, north of Scandinavia), setting up a base camp, then flying north about 200 miles until they could find a suitable chunk of floating ice that would allow an airplane to land on it. They built what he described as a small research city right from the ice, equipped for 25 researchers to spend 40 days studying the flow of water into and out of the Arctic Ocean. He told of how he saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time on one of his ice trips. He was so taken in by the beauty that he stood outdoors in negative 35 Celsius weather with his hands wrapped around a diesel generator’s exhaust pipe so he could watch it as long as possible! He feels what he, Kathryn, and the others are doing is important because it provides basic data for the future and a baseline against which to compare future data. His thoughts regarding what makes a good research assistant in such demanding climes? “The ability to improvise.”

I asked Kathryn how they managed to keep their relationship strong, something that was obviously the case from watching their interactions throughout the cruise, whether recovering the ZAPS sled or refitting it with an additional analytical instrument. Kathryn shared how they had some pretty tough schedules over the years, stressing again that this cruise was the exception.

Her answer? “It’s not the amount of separations, it’s the number of reunions. . . “

“See you in a few days,”


Latitude (S): 62 11.3 Longitude (W): 57 16.3 Time (GMT):2132

Depth (m): 1120 Temp (C ): 1.4 Barometer (mbars): 999.8

Wind Speed (m/s, knots): 16.2 31.6 Wind Direction (degrees): 007

Salinity (ppt): 34.1 Relative Humidity (%) 95.5

Student Weather Station

Barometer (mbars): 1007.4

Temperature (Celsius): 1.8

Relative Humidity (%): 85.5

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