Morale Booster: Gear and Great Food

Dale holding the brain box for the BOA array.

Dale Stokes holds the brain box for the BOA array, a vertical string of temperature sensors that consists of several cables measuring more than a football field in length. Click image for larger view and image credit.

jim untangles reel

Jim Leichter works on untangling a cave reel, a low tech device that he and Dale need to deploy their bottom-mounted instruments. Click image for larger view and image credit.

January 10, 2008

Mark Patterson
Expedition Leader
Associate Professor of Marine Science
Director, Autonomous Systems Laboratory
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary

The advance medical team and AquaKids (junior marine scientists) depart shortly after the New Year, the Delaware students arrive, and more teams appear on the scene, including Daniel Jones (Mark Patterson’s postdoc from the UK) and Noelle Relles (Mark’s graduate student) from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. A few days later, Alex Forrest from Canada and a veteran operator of the Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) arrives, joining us along with his wife Dana. Eggert Magnússon and Richard Yeo from Iceland arrive, bringing a state-of-the art Gavia robot with slightly different capabilities than Alex’s. Alex’s PhD supervisor, Bernard Laval, will arrive later next week.

We are also joined by Tom Hiller and James Baxter from GeoAcoustics; they make a payload carried by the Icelandic AUV that can produce stunning maps of the sea floor.

Finally, it appears after several false starts, that we will finally get our gear from customs. The setback is a few days, but the logistics involved were complex.

One glitch is that the lithium ion rechargeable batteries used by the Icelandic AUVs are still stuck in Curacao, as they must be transported to Bonaire by boat. In between teaching classes to his field students and diving with the science party, Art Trembanis performs yeoman duties, trying to negotiate, cajole, and fix this problem. He succeeds and the AUV team begins to shift into high gear.

out of customs

Richard Yeo of Hafmynd, the company that makes Gavia autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVS), leads the caravan of trucks leaving customs with our gear! Click image for larger view and image credit.

Two Gavia AUVs, ready for action

Two Gavia AUVs, ready for action. One unit is owned by the University of British Columbia, the other by the manufacturer, Hafmynd. These vehicles have state-of-the art sensors, including sophisticated bottom-mapping sonars, and they can navigate with exceptional accuracy. Click image for larger view and image credit.

One big morale booster is having our chief logistician, Susan Patterson, cook nutritious meals for us every evening and some mornings. This helps build team cohesiveness and leads to interesting science discussions, great planning sessions, and endless jokes in our base of operations. When we finally get our gear from Customs, we give Susan a night off and celebrate at an excellent local eatery, Papaya Moon, which specializes in fresh fish tacos.

During our month-long stay in Bonaire, we are renting a villa. After receiving all the gear, we watch as the backyard of our villa turns into a beehive of activity. The scientists are hard at work assembling and testing gear in preparation for deployment. Susan acts as reporter for NOAA interviewing the science party about equipment and processes. Over the next few days, the hard but fun work will begin as we start AUV and dive operations.

Stay tuned for more from other team members!


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