Hydrothermal Exploration of the Mid-Cayman Rise

Getting Ready

Chris German
May. 28 2013
Nereus being lowered gently into the water for the first dip of the cruise.
Nereus being lowered gently into the water for the first dip of the cruise.Chris German

Today was a quiet but busy day.  All the scientists had arrived by the end of Monday and all the remaining science gear showed up at the ship during the course of the day.

[Actually, all but 3 boxes from FedEx due on Wednesday, but we’re convinced all is on track for departure, Thursday at 9am].  With the science team on-board, the piles of boxes that we stacked in the Wet Lab last Sunday finally began to transform into an orderly arrangement of scientific equipment while gear that we won’t use until Leg 2, as well as boxes emptied of their contents for Leg 1, were stowed below decks in the science hold.  Highlight of the day for me, however, was seeing Nereus get wet for the first time this cruise in a test-dunk that was run during the afternoon.

After a long and humid morning (AirCon still wasn’t completely fixed) the time came around 3pm when it was time to test out our new lifting gear (technical term: a swing arrester) that keeps a snug grip on Nereus as we lift it up out of its cradle and lower it over the back of the ship using the large A-frame that spans the breadth of the ship’s aft end (the back of the ship).  As luck would have it, having had several days of brilliant blue skies and hot sunshine, rain started to fall just as we were about to begin the deployment – but Nereus didn’t mind: it is here to get wet after all.  We put the vehicle through its paces, testing various systems out as a large storm started rolling in (Movie 2) and then, just as the lightning began to flash around us and the wind really started to freshen, it was time to get Nereus back out of the water and lowered snugly back into its cradle on the back deck.

As if that wasn’t already a satisfactory end to the day, things got even better – first, we found the air conditioning was fixed and switched back on (luxury) and, second, our Captain, Heiko, had invited us all to a welcoming barbecue in the outdoor lounge where everybody on the ship could hang out and get to know one another before the real work begins.  I’m not going to show you any photos of that outdoor lounge area  just yet because you’ll be jealous and, more to the point, we haven’t left port yet.  I don’t want to risk a stampede of “volunteer-scientists” deciding that we shouldn’t have to face the hardships of what the coming month holds for us, alone!!!

But fear not, once we get safely off-shore, there will be plenty of chances for us to show you what we’re bravely having to put up with ☺

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