Thursday, September 1, 2011

A typical? day

I optimistically imagined working an eight hour day since we have enough science crew to do four on eight off.  I brought articles, maps, and other work.  Plus, I envisioned casual afternoons relaxng, playing cards, blogging...  After umpteen cruises, I should not be so naive!

On at 10am yesterday, I worked until 2pm in the sidescan room.  I also tested the lights and set up the calibration board.  From 2-3pm I worked on finalizing the video stations and prioritizing them.  3-4pm I rested and visited the bridge to look at their charts.  At 4pm the sidescan sonar came on board and we were able to get the video system mounted on the frame, the calibration board attached, arrange the strain relief, and eat a 15 minute dinner.  As soon as we got on station a camera and tape deck failed, and over the course of 2 hours of troubleshooting a computer stopped recording video too.  Since the first station/calibration happened not long after dinner, there were several people around trying to learn the system too.
The Data Acquisition Center (DAC) - sidescan sonar
L-R is Bill, Grace, David, and Mark; Nate's hat in foreground

Most of the problems were tied back to trying to use a usb, and several of the power plugs in the lab are faulty in some way.  But we finally found a good plug and surge protector arrangement and started churning out stations.  Around 7-8pm much consideration was given to the issue of the failure of the plan view camera at about 175 feet depth.  Should we switch the side-looking camera to plan view?  We downloaded the GoPro images and looked at those, which were great.  And the side-view camera was giving us very good context-especially how high things were off the seafloor.  But then we started hitting stations deeper than the GoPro camera could go so there was no plan view at all.  We chose to keep just the side view-egads, breach of standard method so a very difficult decision.  It was decided that qualitative but more informative images we were getting with the side view were better than the quantitative, but less informative, plan view.
By 8pm we were settling into the equipment, which left room to tweak the method (how to communicate with bridge and winch operator, best notes for the log, and training on the GoPro-mounting, unmounting, downloading, battery charging, how often to change out, how to know if a station is too deep and the camera should come off of the frame).  We even got to the point of having the station board recorded just prior to station arrival, eliminating any wait once we were on station.

Pre-dive check of camera frame
David inside and Nate outside

And then it was 10pm-time for my watch!  From 10pm-12am I took up the note taking station, which allowed a respite for my feet.  Then 12-2am I was out on deck yucking it up with the tech, still working on the camera dropping out at 175 feet problem, and suffering recovering the video cable from 265 foot deep stations with strong current.  Then I trained the next watch and stayed until 3am when their fourth watch mate came on.

And do you think I collapsed into my bunk and fell into a deep sleep?  No, I was locked out of my bathroom, so I snuck into my sleeping neighbor's room, snuck into the bathroom, and unlocked the door.  Then I could crash!

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