A Travellerspoint blog

Continuing on our way homeward

Still traveling towards Hawaii, about 900+ miles to go.

A major storm area over northern Hawaii is evidently making news with minor flooding along the coast. From out point of view, the ride has gotten much rougher and slower. We are moving into a constant 30 knots wind with gusts over 40 knots. Seas are between 4-6 meters (ie waves of 12-18 feet). The heave measured on the ship is between 6-8 feet. Roll at 2-4 degrees and pitch at 4-5 degrees. Skipping the numbers, the ship is lurching forward, twisting in three directions as much as 4 feet a sec. Stairwells have gotten particularly entertaining. The crew is laughing at the IODP folks coping with it, saying this is still mild. Most of us have no desire to see weather that is not mild.

A few have succumbed to seasickness again and are no longer very productive. The patch pumping chemicals into them to cope with it makes them groggy at best. So far I am doing fine, no Dramamine and no effects other than a new bruise. Should have been going slower, was hurrying to a meeting going up the stairwell carrying my laptop in my hands. The ship lurched away from me, making me lighter, and went sideways at the same time. Caught the railing on my arm and shoulder rather than hit the laptop or drop it to catch the rail. Been using my carrying bag more often since.

Many are avoiding the steeper stairwells. Entertaining exercise to go up and down now as changes in angle convert from stairs to ladder and back again while you are moving on them.

Several times a minute, waves strike the ship with a resounding boom that can be felt from front to back. Best for people to go out on watch them hit for a while to understand that it does us no harm and we are in no danger, because it sounds awful from in here.

Work continues as fast as possible. It is the end of month and two systems are still not finished. Minor issues continue to plague them as we push towards completion. Four systems are now labeled dead, needing hardware repairs in Hawaii before they can be put back into operation. (We have known about two of them since Guam. The parts were shipped out for replacement from there. These parts are not ones we had spares for, yet.)

While the storm has slowed our pace considerably, they expect it to dissipate in 40-50 hours and we will pick our speed back up. Good chance to hit the average we need to arrive on schedule.

Posted by pafrag 11:18 Comments (2)

Beginning Groundhog day

So called because of an old movie, we are entering Ground Hog day today on February 26. Tonight, we cross the international date line heading east. Therefore, tomorrow, for us, we get up to the same day as today. Not often you get the chance to live one day twice. Or, from management's point of view, they get twice as much work out of us today.

For those trying to track time zones, at this time we are at GMT +11. College Station is at -6. They are 17 hours behind us today. With the changes tonight, tomorrow on February 26, we move into GMT -12, putting us 6 hours behind them. Over the next few days we will continue to cross time zones and adjust to reach Hawaii time of GMT -10.

Progress towards Hawaii continues fast and smooth. We have been fortunate to find good currents and favorable winds. You wouldn't think such things are important in the modern age, but with a top speed of around 10 knots, it makes a big difference to us. We have been averaging 11-12 knots because of conditions in our environment. When the conditions are against us, we average 8-9 knots. Over a 10 day trip, that is a lot of difference.

So we are on schedule for Honolulu, pack our gear the night of March 4th, meet and talk with the new crew on the 5th and leave the ship for a hotel that afternoon. Party at a bar that night for everybody. (For those who are not aware, the ship is considered a TAMU facility and university rules apply no matter where we are. No alcohol on board.)

I am so looking forward to the 5th.

Posted by pafrag 14:34 Comments (2)

On the way to Hawaii

It has been an incredibly hectic period. Along with trying to get everything completed, we were having to support scientists trying to use the systems we are still working on. Operations went into full swing with 12 cores recovered and processed. They averaged around 8 meters each, so about 270 feet of rock acquired for processing. Loggers measured it every centimeter for multiple types of sensors, images were made of all of it, slides taken for microscopic examination (fossil counts) as well as numerous pieces sent to chemistry for evaluation on the dozen or so systems down there.

Finally completed all that, managed to keep some semblance of sanity while patching what we are in the middle of developing and got all the data loaded. Drill pipe up and we are heading home at last.

Sailing has been alternately smooth and bouncy depending on winds with mostly a normal rocking motion. Captain says our weather will stabilize in a few days and we should make good time to Honolulu. I have not bothered with Dramamine so far this part of the journey. Been on the water long enough now that I know getting off will be painful, then I will need medicine. I do not envy the folks who are flying home the day we get off. Getting on a plane with land sickness sounds like a bad idea.

Of course ALL our work has to be completed, evaluated, reviewed, and paperwork complete before we get there. At time of writing we have eight systems (out of around 70) still in process. 2 will not complete this trip as they are broken beyond our ability to repair them. 1 is still under repair and may make it to life. The other five are in various stages of hardware / software failure and being worked on literally around the clock. I am down to one system left to finish the documentation on and then I can start on the various trip reports due by the end of the month. bleh.

Looking forward to finishing this.

Hawaii should be good. I won't be on a 12 hour day anymore, I'll be living in a hotel BY MYSELF (no snoring roommate). Hopefully I will catch up on my rest before I get to go home.

Posted by pafrag 22:48 Comments (0)

Out to sea

After a few days of uneventful travel we have arrived at our drill site to begin operations. Seas have been smooth, weather good and I am off Dramamine for several days now. It has actually been rougher sitting still here than it was in transit.

There are problems with the dynamic position system and we are already about 12 hours behind schedule for drilling. The dynamic positioning system is supposed to use the side thrusters (12 props lowered when we stop which can be turned in many directions) to hold us on location. Since the GPS for that system went fritz when we arrived, it proceeded to drive us around in a large circle for about two hours.

Once they got that under control, they had to "unwind" the cables for the undersea sonar and camera and let them "unkink". You know how a garden hose gets all twisted around when you coil it up and then try to uncoil it. Now imagine doing that with a cable three inches thick about 3000 meters long. Took a while.

Water depth here is around 2800 meters. The hole we are looking for is approximate (within 50 meters) below us and the reentry cone on that hole is about 4 meters across. Being around noon on 14 February, we will soon start using the camera and sonar to "look" for the cone and guide the pipe into it. Fortunately this is not my job.

Work continues fast and furious. I miss you all.

Happy Valentines day to all of you and a very special one to Robbin.

Posted by pafrag 17:45 Comments (0)

Gone from Guam

Well we are away from Guam and sailing towards our drill site. Guam was very interesting. When we found out that a taxi ride from the dock where we were to the nearest civilization was around $40, I invested in a rent a wreck. Using it I managed to get out a bit more than I did in Singapore.


Took Sunday morning and drove south around the island. Stopped at one pullout and took the above picture. As you can tell, the island is quite steep in many places. The beaches are generally very nice, even in an area like this which is not a public beach, just a strip of land along the road.

The road was two land blacktop most of the time. Stopped at another spot and shot the following.


The water is behind me just a little bit. The small brown thing at the bottom of the picture is my rent a wreck. That car is a story all by itself, but it got me around during my few days here.

Lots more pictures from my tour, too many to upload given my slow connection speed. I do have one more for you.

While at this dock, I finally got a decent picture of the JR. That is, my ride so to speak.


For a bit of scale, you can see a few people standing at the end of the gangway, just above the date. The orange lifeboats hung on the sides hold 70 people each.

Till next time

Posted by pafrag 23:29 Archived in Guam Comments (0)

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