Hydrothermal Exploration of the Mid-Cayman Rise

Mind, He Doesn’t Get Out Much

Chris German
Jun. 12 2013
Mind, he doesn’t get out much. How sad, with all that ocean and sky outside, that this Sunset photograph was taken while sitting at my computer?
Mind, he doesn’t get out much. How sad, with all that ocean and sky outside, that this Sunset photograph was taken while sitting at my computer?Chris German

Suddenly, the whole ship seems to have its groove on and science is really clicking.

By deciding to focus on our shallowest site, we are stepping up the pace to dive every day, starting at 04h00, and staying out as long as we’re allowed. Reminds me of Summer nights when I was about 10 and I would go out cycling around with my friends.  In southern England in mid Summer it could still be only approaching dusk by 10pm so if you didn’t take your watch with you, you could at least try and pretend you didn’t realize it was getting that late.  Happily for us (because 40 years later, I still like playing), Nereus has a design to keep us out of trouble like that.

When it leaves the deck each morning Nereus has an alarm-clock equivalent already set that says it has to be back by tea-time, no matter how interesting the science or how much the Chief Scientist stamps his foot, pouts or otherwise shows he may be getting overtired.  I suspect my long-suffering wife, Romey, might be getting James & Mike to install the same upgrade into the back of my brain for when I get home.  But at least, so far, I haven’t been sent to sit on the naughty deck.

But I digress.


So today I have mostly been sleeping in 2h naps.  But it hasn’t turned me into a better engineer. So I’m not sure why they choose to do that. But now they are channeling their inner Sean, I may have to get them all pit-crew outfits for Leg 2.

Tonight Nereus was on-deck around 7pm, the batteries are on and charging trying to stuff as many electrons in them by 4am as possible, Mike and James are sucking data from today’s dive off the sub while, in parallel, programming up and simulating tomorrow’s mission to debug any errors.  Going by last night’s pattern they will still be working at 10pm then, after a brief nap, they start again at 1am to go through all the pre-dive check-lists so they can call the Bridge at 3:30am to confirm they will be good to go at the 4am watch-change when the ship’s crew finishing their 12-4 watch and the new watch starting their 4-8 shift are all available simultaneously.

It is a narrow window of opportunity and we have to time everything just right to squeeze all the information out of the opportunity that being out here on Falkor has presented us with.

As well as keeping the AUV program going, we also have the CTD teams cooking in parallel so the mental choreography to keep the two teams in play, constructively, makes for an interesting challenge too.

This afternoon I was able to concoct tomorrow’s mission scenario with Mike so he could get a start on programming that while I was also talking through a game plan with him, James and Casey on how the next 3 dives might go, assuming nothing new and more exciting comes up in the data in the next 72 hours.

Which it will.

We are exploring uncharted territory, here.

So, as I write this at 9pm, tomorrow’s plan is actively being developed already and then tomorrow I will look at today’s data to work out what the day after tomorrow’s dive will be like (keep up at the back, this paragraph is only just beginning).  While last night’s CTD cast was designed to help fine-tune what today’s (just completed) dive would look like (specifically whether we had chosen the right height off bottom), tonight’s CTD led by Jill, Meg, Ko-ichi and Eeyore (pronounced Urchin) is already on its way up from an apparently very gloomy place.  But it was essential, nonetheless,  to help plan the Nereus dive for the day after tomorrow or the day after that (I haven’t lost track of the days, there, I just need to see what happens between now and then to see what priorities come to the fore).

Confused?  Me too.

Anyway, because that was all proving a bit too easy, we’ve also decided to add to the schedule by planning an open lecture by Max for the ship’s company tomorrow afternoon – part of their Science Seminars at Sea – and, as the one time of day when we are always awake but with Nereus in the water and the CTD on deck so our Scientists are mostly available, we’re also starting a Science breakfast club where we share results from our past cruises at Cayman and, if we are lucky, results from this cruise too.  First up, tomorrow morning, will be Jill and Urchin (pronounced Eeyore) giving us what they described over dinner tonight (their breakfast) would be a Loopy Fluids talk.

Sadly, all this scientific productivity means I almost forgot to go out on deck again all day so don’t have a lot of new images to show you.  Instead, here’s the view as the Sun went down when I sat down at my laptop earlier this evening.    Since this was taken from sitting at the desk in my cabin, rather than outside, it makes me think:

What kind of luck, or special kind of genius, must it take to set things up so elegantly that the sun sets out my bedroom window just now?

I blame the Chief Scientist.

[Steady, Sean].

Beginning June 21, follow Dr. Chris German and his team aboard R/V Falkor as they stream LIVE video from HROV Nereus

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