We have assembled quite an armada of boats for conducting our research! The main boat we have used is a 26 foot cabin cruiser that's named.... you guessed it..... the "Wildcat." This boat was purchased with funds from the National Science Foundation in 1987 and has been used nearly every summer since.
We have studied geology as far north as Skagway (Alaska) and as far south as Bella Bella (British Columbia), covering ~over 1500 miles of coastline. I doubt many other 26 foot boats have covered this much of the coast, well, except for the old-time gold panners who would row hand-made wooden boats all the way from California to Alaska....
Can you tell us about the research you've been doing from the boats?
The main focus of the research is to determine how North America has grown westward—200 million years ago, the west coast of North America extended northward from southern California through central Nevada, western Idaho, and western Alberta! Most of the rocks in California and Nevada and all of the rocks in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska were located somewhere else. So during the past 200 million years North America has grown westward by the accretion of rocks that formed elsewhere within the Pacific Ocean. We are trying to reconstruct this history of accretion, and thereby understand the general processes by which continents have grown over geologic time.
After all this, the Whitecap was ready for field work! We drove the boat to Port McNeil, BC, loaded up with supplies, and with collaborator Bill McClelland (Professor at the University of Iowa) headed off for several weeks of mapping and sampling. Later in the summer, MS student Clare Tochilin joined the group.