by Dave Packer, Delaware Museum of Natural History
June 8, 2017
Chief Scientists' weather report: partly sunny and cool at the dock, with a strong chance of chomping at the bit.
With a high pressure ridge over the Gulf of Maine today, and a gale warning with reported winds of 30-40 knots on the edge of the shelf, and seas at 14-18 feet, the Navy told us it would be wise to stay at the dock until Friday morning at 9 AM. The ROPOS can only be launched in seas of less than six feet and winds of less than 25 knots, and that's about the limit for concentrating on computers, too.
It will take at least 22 hours for us to reach our first sampling station between Munson and Nygren canyons, and it's going to be a bumpy ride. But the seas should flatten out nicely by the time we arrive on Saturday. So as frustrating as it is to wait out the weather (especially when you look out of a port hole and see how nice it is outside where you are), everyone is taking the opportunity to get even better prepared for the cruise.
Almost every Bigelow crew member is new since the last time the ROPOS was deployed from this ship three years ago. Our weather delay is the perfect time to do a practice launch and recovery of the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) while the ship is still docked. The Bigelow's deck crew worked closely with the ROPOS technicians in coordinating the various tag lines with the movements of the A-frame.
In addition to practicing with the ROPOS, and in anticipation of the bumpy ride ahead, everyone is busy securely tying equipment down, or warning others to do so, as well as going over dive plans and generally getting further orientated with all aspects of the ship, the ROPOS, and the soon-to-be life on board. In addition, some people are getting in their last day of walking longer distances than 209 feet (the length of the Bigelow) or making their last run to the store to get that one last thing they need or may have forgotten (gummy bears and chocolate are high on the list – it's going to be a long cruise). And if all else fails, there’s always eating: a delicious barbecued chicken was served for lunch in the galley, courtesy of Dennis, the chief steward, and his assistant Jeremy. "Awesome," exclaimed one of the Chief Scientists. No one argued.
So it may be true, according to Otis Redding, that we'll still "be sittin' when the evenin' come,” but we'll be way too busy in preparation for tomorrow to just be "watching the tide roll away."