Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Hectic Night!

Finally assembling the camera tripod

Hi People. We are back! And the news is good. Even under still shaky conditions we were able to finish our sampling at Station B. After foul-weather standby throughout the day shift, the winds dropped to around 15 knots and the megacore-deploying machine started to work once again.
One, two, three, four, five, six…hurtling over the fantail one after another, like a production line. Dave wisely asked one of our information techs to average the wind speeds for the last few hours to check if there was a drop or increasing trend. Ok, “good news” says Jen. We should act quickly! We have a few hours to act before those low-pressure systems come close to us again and increase the wind speeds. Lets go!! And while Dave orchestrated the megacoring crowd, Craig conducted his symphony of night workers in tuning up Da Tripod, our last programmed mission. The yoyo camera needed to be reconfigured for deployment on the tripod and the mooring array needed substantial setup before its final assembly and ultimate destiny: to lie at the bottom of the Antarctic ocean for 7 months.

Strobe in position and tested: “check!” Camera with all the programmed settings, photo interval times, F-stop, focal distance, shutter speed, pixel resolution: “all checked!” Sea battery charged and well secured: “check!” Acoustic releases tested overboard and pinging like a Levi Strauss violin: “check!” Nice, “… and the time has come” says Craig. “Let’s do it while the seas are still calm and the winds are not so strong…”. At that point a couple of megacores were still left to deploy; however, we could not waste such a good opportunity. It was a great and successful deployment once again! Thanks everyone!!

Artistic picture shot by the Da Tripod camera while still on back deck. It seems to be working just fine!

On that night a group effort developed on back deck; both the day and night shift worked together, relentlessly loading the empty tubes into the megacore and running with our sediment samples back to the wet lab for slicing, preserving, labeling and storing. There were 6 Megacore samples in an 8-hour time interval; not counting the time we spent deploying the camera tripod. The day-shift people were exhausted at some point around 6:00 am. Most of them had been awake for more then 20 hours and a few gave in to exhaustion and went to bed around that time. But all the effort was worth it! The FOODBANCS2 primary goals are accomplished. Everything we do now is a bonus, but the sensation of accomplished work is stamped in our
colleague’s faces and smiles. Rewarding!

Brian commands the megacore adventure. The last one!

So now what!? Now we have a 30-hour steam to our mysterious and new extra station up North. “Station Q”? No one actually knows where and what exactly will happen at station Q in terms of science. With exception of course, of our secretive PI’s, keeping the last mission inside a top-secret sealed envelope. Everyone is guessing and betting about what will be our next act! There is still hope for a quick stop at Deception Island for sightseeing and a quick hike uphill. Maybe before we arrive at “Station Q”, who knows?! We are now peering every minute through our portholes, seeking landmarks: cliffs, bays and even penguins; dark spots in the middle of the whitish and grayish seascape that has surrounded us for the last week. Keep looking people! Ohh look, I think I saw land!!

Signs of land

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