Artist’s sketchbook: Welcome aboard

While many Americans take full advantage of the warm, summer months, crewmembers aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy are exploring the Arctic. Healy is currently supporting scientific research in the dynamic waters of the north on their Arctic West Summer 2013 deployment.

As watchstsanders and scientists alike collaborate to collect vital scientific data, they are joined by artist Bob Selby. Follow along with the crew in our series “Artist’s sketchbook” to glimpse daily life aboard Healy, from scientists and cooks to the bridge and engine room.

Dutch Harbor Hotel

Stress. The lobby of the Grand Aleutian hotel, in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is stacked with baggage and gear for scientists preparing to ship out on Healy, an icebreaker that doubles as a floating laboratory. Chief scientist Lee Cooper and colleague are more concerned with what’s not here. The tiny airline that serves this island lost twenty pieces of luggage. Subsequent flights produced only some of the missing bags delaying departure for the Healy and sending harried scientists scrambling around the village for boots, sweatshirts and underwear. Logo wear for Dutch Harbor, Alaska, becomes ubiquitous aboard ship.


Day 1. The first day aboard the ice breaker Coast Guard Cutter Healy is a busy one for the 44 scientists and the Coast Guard personnel charged with their support. As the crew sorts out berthing details, the scientists log long hours in the on-board laboratories in preparation for a fifteen day research voyage to the Arctic. Here a Ring Net sprawls across Healy’s fantail as Philip Alatalo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute directs the assembly. Along with Heather McEachen of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and Stephen Elliott, the Woods Hole researchers will use this and a “bongo” style net to gather Zooplankton specimens for later study.


Underway. At the center, Lt. Cmdr. Jacob Cass directs the operation on Healy’s bridge. After frustrating delays caused by missing luggage, the research cruise to the Arctic has begun. A barge anchored nearby makes it tricky to get out of our parking spot but we edge out smoothly as we exit Dutch Harbor and set our course for the Arctic Circle. Between orientation sessions and safety drills on the flight deck, the scientists prepare the labs and conduct whale and wild life watches. Crew and scientists alike seem excited to be under way at last.

Bob Selby enjoyed a 20-year career as a staff illustrator at The Providence Journal. During that time, he was the recipient of numerous awards including a Fulbright Grant to research the history of caricature in Spain. Following this, he embarked on a career as a freelance illustrator, painter and sculptor. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence and currently teaches full time at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. His art career has garnered awards and recognition from The Associated Press, the Society of Illustrators in New York and the Society of Newspaper Design. He is currently underway aboard Healy to document its crew’s activities and missions.


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