After the rope came the cable with the scientific instruments attached to it. A few of the instruments were brought in, and then attention was given to the buoy. It had to be tagged and brought onto the deck. However, the seas were too rough for the Zodiac boat to go out, so the ship passed by the bouy and several men tried to tag it with line. Several attempts were made, but it proved to be very difficult. On one pass, the buoy was overrun by the ship and the buoy was flipped upside down. Due to the rough seas, the recovery was not going as planned.
At this juncture, it was decided that the Zodiac boat would be used so that the scientists could tag a line to the buoy and bring it in. Preparations were made and the boat, along with three men inside it, were lowered into the rough seas, however it proved to be too harrowing and that plan was nixed. It was decided that the ship would pass by the buoy once again and attempts would be made to tag it and grapple it with hooks. Luckily, this plan worked and the buoy was secured by lines, which were then used to help it right itself. After this, the buoy was brought onto the ship by use of the crane. One thing to note was that as the bouy was brought closer to the ship, there appeared schools of fish, including what looked like a yellowfin tuna. This is because the buoy and its mooring become an ecosystem unto itself. Barnacles and other creatures grow on the botton of the buoy and the rest of the mooring, which attract fish and other sea creatures.
When the float was secured to the deck of the ship, attention was given to the mooring cable with the instruments attached. The crane, along with the use of several winches, was used to bring up the instruments. Each instrument was detached, serial numbers were checked with last year’s log, and then taken for cleaning and retrieval of data. As the pictures show, the instruments really get covered in barnacles, algae and seaweed. Some of us took plastic brillo pads and scrapers to the instruments and began to remove the detritus covering them. This proved to be a smelly and dirty job, but it’s fun to get dirty sometimes.
After they were cleaned, another scientists detached the canisters which held the collected data, and with the use of computers, the data was downloaded for use by scientists at a later date. Pressure washers were used to further clean the equipment for storage and shipment. It’s important to remove as much of the organisms on the equipment, otherwise the stench of decay would prove to be overwhelming, and the detritus is not good for the instruments.
By this time, the sun was beginning to set, and everyone was tired. We even got to see a double rainbow at the end of the day. So, for all the drama and excitement, I am glad to report that the retrieval mission was accomplished successfully.
Today we wrap up the mission and clean up. It is important that we leave the ship in the way it started. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the compartments below that held the engines, and the electronic gear which helps with the operation of the ship.
I want to thank everyone on the mission. I want to thank the captian and his crew for being kind and patient with me and my inexperience. I especially enjoyed the tours that I received of the bridge, engine rooms and the engine control room I want to thank all the scientists and personnel from WHOI and the University of Hawaii, especially Bob Weller, for welcoming me, answering my questions, and making me feel part a part of the team. I also want to thank the graduate students from University of Hawaii for working with me and making me a part of their team as well. Finally, I want to expess my gratitude to the people from NOAA that made this experience possible including Jennifer Hammond, Elizabeth McMahon, and Elizabeth Bullock.