Checking out of my room. OPERATIONS!!!!
4-6 September, 2010
by Michael Dessner
I’d have to say that I am itching to get back to sea. Looking down on the ship from my 4th floor hotel room it looks battle ready, no one moving around deck at this early hour. A kilometer away she looks pretty shiny white and all the gear looks dogged down for combat. Loaded for bear. I guess one sweet side effect of strapping everything down for a hurricane is that when you come back from a trip Outside (as we would have said in my AK days) everything is ready for sea. No rushing around last minute tying stuff down.
I’d really prefer it though, to be rushing around right now. Gonna go find some make work for myself. I’d go for a drive in the country; but, so far I’ve been able to avoid the expense of renting a car and it seems foolish to do it now. Regardless, I’m mentally geared to be away from the beach and after a couple days sampling the various local fares (read as ‘checking out the many different Irish pubs around town’) and a day in my hotel room catching up on correspondences and non mission related work, I want to be doing something. Wonder if they rent bicycles in town?
Who’m I kidding? Headed down to the ship to find some make work for myself. Make work; something I detest almost as much a standing around waiting for something to happen. As Aubrey would have said, I must make “the choice between the lesser of two weevils” (yeah, OK, I watched Master and Commander last night in the room. Thank Poseidon I have been able to resist having “H O L D T I G H T” tattooed across my knuckles). In all my years of working you simply would not believe the sheer number and unpleasantness of some of the disgusting, skuzzy tasks I have engaged in just because some supervisor decided to keep us occupied. Make work pays the bills but it seems to do so at the expense of the happy segments of the human soul. I would say it’s a morale killer but the other weevil, inaction, is even worse.
There’s a fair mount of activity amongst those that were left behind. The camera team from Billy Lange’s Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab (AIVL) out of WHOI are hard at it, looks to me like they pulled a fair number of their bottles and are now remounting them, oil-comping those housings that need it. Everybody that’s around is keeping busy with something and when all else fails you grab a paint brush, by and large everything looks like we’ll be good to go when everyone returns. Signing off.
Took a walk down to the boat this morning and its darned quiet. Looks like the all the prep work is done, the cameras are all back on the Remora, the labs upstairs look tidier than ever before. It’s the calm before the storm, both literally and figuratively. The word I got from most of the boys back on the east coast yesterday was that the hurricanes were moderate, good sized storm but no real carnage. I asked Mark Dennett of the WHOI AUV team if he took any damage. He said, “Yep, found a leaf in the dog dish, had to empty his water and refill”. Not the fury they expected I take it. Looks like we will be spared here in St. Johns too, sun’s shining and the wind is blowing out of the east but that’s about it. Gonna work on other projects for the day. Can feel it coming though, can tell that there are people in the air headed our way. Current schedule is for us to leave Tuesday morning and be back on the 18th. Get my tickets squared away and I should be back at my desk in San Diego on the 21st. I’m out. Gonna work in my room for a few hours and get to bed at an early hour, sync up.
Woke up on my favorite schedule this morning; up at 5:15 or so, just as the first light is touching the horizon. Looks to be a clear day but there’s a breeze stirring. Have been shuttling my stuff from the hotel room to my berth on board the ship so each walk to the boat is laden with a full backpack. All my laundry’s clean, got all my other jobs lined out with the various entities I’m dealing with and am looking forward to the boys showing up. Have a text message from a couple of the AUV team, a few of them seem to have gotten in around 11:15 last night and sent me a note asking if I wanted to meet them for a late supper. Thankfully I was in bed which is how I am on my normal work schedule. Feels good to be up before the sun, looking down at the ship that will be taking me to Titanic tomorrow! Here it comes, the excitement of heading back out to a site we already have dialed in to some degree.
Oh yeah, the teams are showing up on board and everybody is frosty to get back on the water. The WHOI boys are here and we’re starting to prep the girls for deployment. A different set of higher frequency sonar transducers are going into the girls for an even higher resolution survey of the site. That imagery is gonna rock even more than the super rock star stuff we got already. Wish I could share but we’re still working the data and plan to shine it up even more with some new runs past the wreck. It’s coming and it will be fabulous. We’ll do a quick dunk test, get ‘em wet and just make sure everything’s still dialed in. As well the AIVL folks on Billy Lange’s team from WHOI are doing some last minute touch ups on gear, the Phoenix guys are reassembled in full and everybody has the glint in their eye. Ready to hit open water.
The word is circulating that we may get out early. Now, ya gotta love that. I’m certain I have NEVER been on a job where we got out early. It’ says a lot about this group, their professionalism and dedication, that not only can they get to sea a day early but are chomping at the bit to do so. No one cares that we won’t have a night out together in town; we’ve been there and done that in St John’s. It’s a great place to work from but work is what we wanna do. We get out to the site a day early and that’s one more day’s work we put in, that much more we can accomplish and that much more data we bring back. It’s a win, win, win. And it’s looking good.
So I have come back up to my hotel room at the Quality Hotel Harbourview and am gathering up my gear. Damned glad I made a run this morning, just about everything still left in here will fit in my backpack. I feel like I’m leaving a place I’ve gotten to know pretty effectively. My window looks down over the harbor with a straight shot to the entrance and I have been getting the feel for the rhythm of this place, watching the various workboats in and out, both oil support ships and the local fishing boats which all remind me of a class of ship we knew as “the Petersburg” boats when I was pimping fish in Alaska. I’ll remember the view from this room but I’d be lying if I said I’ll miss it. I’m ready to roll, glad to go. This job will be more fun than any week on the beach.
The next one will come from the water. Operations!!!