Author Archive

Star Wars



Somehow while we were on the Gato Verde it got out that I had never seen Star Wars. When this news hit, Jaws dropped, “OMG!”‘s were screamed, and comparisons to locking children in closets for several years were drawn. Actually that last reaction was only one comparison, made by Jason, who then showed up the next morning with all three original Star Wars movies. We ravaged through them over the next few nights, and I realized how glad I am that I didn’t see them as a kid. I’m sure the level of obsession I would’ve most likely reached as an 8-year-old would have been hard to recover from. The movies are amazing! The distinction of the dark side being a place of fear and hate instead of just sheer evil is so brilliant! Now on a regular basis I find myself thinking things like, “Calm down Hannah, it’s only a robot, don’t give into your hate and the dark side…” Then I crack up, and I am able to resist.
This is just one more example of a well-rounded educational experience, brought to you by Beam Reach.

Read More

sails and small spaces


Our time aboard the Gato Verde has come to a close. I miss sleeping in my narrow forward berth and being surrounded by water all day everyday. I must admit though that it is nice to be able to walk and move as I please, instead of being confined to a 42 by 26 foot square. I have always wondered if I would like to spend day after day on a sailboat in the big open ocean. These last three weeks have confirmed my reliance on movement and open space, and I now know that long periods of time in small spaces is not for me. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the act of sailing and hope to continue building on what I have learned here in the future…just as long as I can swim or run in the same day.

Read More

Patos to Echo Bay, Sucia Island

We were greeted by rain in Patos’ Active Bay this morning.  We ate a hardy breakfast and then headed out into the current.  We hung around off the Northeast bit of Patos Island, hoping for more whales. We found no whales, but they did show up near us towards the end of the day.  Unfortunately by that time the day was leaving us and our generator was melting down.  We kept ourselves well entertained all day though, playing with the echosounder, the fish camera, and plankton.  We ended up mooring in Echo Bay and taking the dinghy to shore to stretch our legs and run into CMC friends.  Hopefully we’ll reconnect with the whales tomorrow!

Read More

Robots vs. Aliens


Ahhh, aboard the Gato Verde we seem to have plenty of free time to follow our follies,  like experimenting with watercolors and debating/detesting the role of robots in our lives- now a daily occurrence, and the most recent source of my passionate confusion.

If you’re wondering what I mean by robots, look no further, because if you are reading this, then one is literally staring you in the face right now.  It has always seemed weird to me that we try to learn more about the natural world by bottling it into numbers, spreadsheets, graphs, and whatever else robots like to eat.  The results are in robot-speak, trying to describe with squared off logic the spherical realm.

It’s easy to be an advocate for robots, and it is this propensity for ease that has led us to welcome them into our homes and lives.  Despite this, I invite you to think critically about our ever-increasing robot dependency and the balance that could exist between our experiences in the natural world and our obsession with quantification.

Is it enough to thoroughly experience an environment and form a relationship with it in order to foster an understanding of it?  Could controlling and testing aspects of an environment reveal, in numbers, more valuable insights than our senses and intuition as part of the natural world provide?  I feel that natural history splits the difference here between sheer experience and logical interpretation of the natural world.  Unfortunately, the way we have engineered our institutions of learning has led us to a point now that places little or no value on natural historians, in favor of research.  Science is loosing the humanity with which it began, as it veers from physical experience in the natural world to number crunching and technological interpretations.  It is this dominance of fact over truth that I have found incredibly demoralizing as I continue exploring on my educational path.  Could there still be a way to do science that bridges the gap between knowledge and understanding?

Regardless, have no fear.  I’m sure when J-Pod returns there will be little to no free time aboard the Gato Verde for painting, debates, and blog-writing, so expect the next ones to be short!

Over and out,
Hannah McGowan

Read More

No wind but plenty of science

FHL to Mitchell Bay

We slept in and left FHL at about 10:30 this morning.  We cruised south through cattle pass then headed along the southwest side of the island.  There was no wind for sailing, so after rescuing the sea from a lost red balloon, we calibrated the hydrophones in the array and did a behavioral data exercise involving Jason in the dinghy with uncooperative dry erase markers.  After all that we headed to Mitchell Bay, where we moored for the night, anticipating a long and exciting trip to Port Angeles tommorow.

Read More