Fourth of July Fireworks After a Day at the Los Angeles Dock

Published: 17 July 2013

Editor’s note: Ernie Lewis, principal investigator for the Marine ARM GPCI Investigations of Clouds (MAGIC) field campaign, sent this update on July 6, 2013.

It’s Saturday, July 6, a bit before noon. I’m on the Spirit in the Port of Los Angeles and scheduled to leave on Leg14A later this evening, a bit later than normal, but the ship had a few repairs done. The port was closed over July 4 and also on July 5 because of a dockworkers’ holiday commemorating a confrontation with the U.S. Army in the 1920s. It was unusual to have the port so quiet, and empty too, but they started loading containers around 8am today. It’s not so quiet anymore.

Queen Mary (orange stacks) and fireworks.

I flew in to Los Angeles International Airport on July 4 around noon and drove to Long Beach Airport to pick up Trevor Ferguson, who will be sailing on the ship, and to see Mike Reynolds, who had just gotten off the ship and was flying back home. Trevor hasn’t been to sea before, but he’s traveled considerably. He had a job for a while on Mauna Loa on the big island in Hawaii, and lived in Brazil for two years. He’s currently in grad school in Utah, and he saw an opportunity to come on a MAGIC leg and jumped at it. He’s eager to work and easy to get along with, so I’m looking forward to sailing with him.

Around 4pm, we met the techs: Brett Bersche, who was getting off after a month; Mark Smith, who had been on for two weeks and will be for another two; and Pat Dowell, who had arrived the day before to start his month on.  It was great to see them, as always. They’re really nice guys and a lot of fun to hang out with. We caught up on all the news from the ship, what was working, what wasn’t, etc.

There was to be a fireworks display from the Queen Mary that evening, but none of us had realized how big of a deal this was. There were literally thousands of people walking toward the waterfront to watch. Our hotel was less than half a mile away from the Queen Mary, but many of the roads were blocked, so we were having great difficulty getting anywhere near it. Finally, we convinced a policewoman to let us through a barrier by showing her our hotel card, and we made it to our room, which was on the eleventh floor overlooking the Queen Mary, just in time to see the display.

Trevor Ferguson
Pat Dowell
Mark Smith

The next morning, we went to the ship. I met Warren Gore and Tony Trias from NASA, who were installing an instrument on the ship. I had talked to them by email, but hadn’t met them in person before. The installation was going well, and they now have the instrument up and running. I saw some of the crew I knew from previous legs and had a nice chat with Capt. Walt Rankin, whom I hadn’t seen for a while. He’s been extremely supportive of MAGIC, and I told him of all my future plans/dreams for continued MAGIC projects on the Spirit.

There’s plenty of MAGIC work to do, even in port, and I helped Pat package up samples to be mailed back, as well as a few other chores. The AMF2 is going to Finland starting in January (that is where the next deployment of the AMF2 is after it comes off the Spirit), and Pat and Mark will be going with it. Afterwards, we picked up some supplies (another deck chair, a fan, stuff like that) and returned to the ship. The view that evening was as clean as I ever remember seeing it. Pat said the same for him too. The wind was light from over the ocean, and Santa Catalina Island looked as if it were just outside the harbor.

Ernie Lewis