Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting Ready for the Big One

Suit up! David is our chosen victim of Leg 2 who gets to don one of the immersion suits we are all issued with in case of emergency.

Getting ready. Nereus team preparing the Depressor (looks like a large missile with its covers off!) for deployment over the rear end (nautiacal speak = aft, or stern) of the ship ahead of tomorrow’s Nereus dive when it will be used for real.
Position at 16h00 EST - Testing Nereus Depressor Weight
Lat: 18° 33’N Long: 081° 44’W
Water depth: >3000m

Exciting times! We sailed slowly south overnight to arrive on station this morning to see just how bad the weather was compared to the forecast. Great news! The weather here is just fine for working in and the forward look says it will only stay the same or better for the next 4 days. So that means we can plan to launch tomorrow.

With that in mind we have taken it slow and steady today. Boat drills and safety briefings for all the newbies on board came first. Then a deep test of the depressor weight we use to carry Nereus’ optical fiber as close to the seafloor as we can reach before we pay that out – about 2500m down (i.e. halfway in this case!). Finally, a final tow-yo of the CTD across the northern limits of our target site from West to East (a line the weather has finally) allowed me to run, to confirm that the strongest plume signals do indeed coincide with where we think that vents are sat, ready to be dived on.

Final operations were done just after 10:30pm so then it was off to bed ready for a HUGE day tomorrow. Nereus pre-dives begin at 4:30am and Julie and Jeff are due up at 5am to load their science gear but happily James (chief Navigator) has told me he won’t be ready to talk through the final mission plan with me before 7am- so if I can stay asleep that long, I get a lie-in.

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