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> August 10, 2006
Steve_Stevenoski
post Aug 15 2006, 03:03 AM
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August 10, 2006

It's 3:27 in the morning and we still have six guns firing, a new record.It is even colder today. Ice is forming on the deck making it slippery in areas. It's time to bring the cage back on deck to check on all the gear. Everything looks good. We tighten a few hoses and check for chaffing on the hoses and wires. 30 minute pit stop and the cage is back in the water and we are shooting and collecting data.

Snuck an hour nap. 5:30 - Check up time for the cage and guns. We made some minor fixes with the ropes, replaced all bolts on the lower GI guns, and repaired one air hose. The gear continues to work better each time we put the cage back in the water.

After breakfast, we entered some heavy ice, developed a new air leak on one of the guns. As a result we were back to shooting only 5 guns at 8:45. We would continue shooting five guns until we brought the cage up on deck 11:00 as we concluded the seismic line that we were collecting data. Gun number 4 needed some serious repairs. Solenoid bracket and bolts were bent and cracked. Air hoses needed to be repaired, but after 20 hours in the water, we were pretty pleased.

At 10:30 Larry Lawver came to the main lab and told me that Steffen and I would be on the recovery teams for the seismic instruments on the ice. Steffen would fly with Peggy and Biil, and I would go on the second helicopter with Anatoly and Joseph. The first helicopter would go back to the end of the line about 60 miles away. They would collect the most distant instruments. Our helicopter would head out 30 miles and collect instruments up to the ship.

11:30 went up to the bridge for the preflight briefing. Weather, flight plans and a safety brief was covered. Each helicopter was equipped with a rifle incase we had an issue with a polar bear at the location of the instruments.

We took off at about 12:45. We headed out 30 miles and found the first instrument that we were supposed to retrieve. Every 15 minutes we are required to check in with the ship. Joseph tried both radio frequencies that are used to communicate with the ship. He was not able to raise the ship on either channel. He tried the satellite telephone, but no connection. Finally he decides to take it up. From 50 feet to 500 feet in 3 seconds. That makes for quite a ride for your stomach when you are unprepared in the back seat of a helicopter. We contacted the ship and then landed to pick up the instruments.

When the gear is deployed it consists of a large cooler that contains and protects the instruments. It weighs about 60 pounds. The main two detectors are a hydrophone that is placed in the water below the ice line. The geophone is the second detector and that gets imbedded in the snow and positioned under the cooler to keep it in good contact with the ice. A four-foot antenna is connected to the instruments and a large red flag is posted near the cooler. You can see them quite easily from over a mile when you are up in the helicopter.

The first two recoveries when very well. It took us about 5 minutes to land, collect the instruments and take off again. Our next instrument was number 25. We were not able to connect to it by radio in a couple of days. We spent about 15 minutes circling a 3-mile area where we thought the instrument could be. We were going up and down and making quicker turns than I expected. My stomach felt that same old funny feeling. I opened a window, got some fresh air and felt better. We could not find it so we moved onto the next instruments on the line.

Just like the first two instruments, we found these very easily. My stomach was doing better. Every time we landed it gave me just enough time to catch my breath and stretch my legs as we picked up the equipment.

The final instrument was positioned about 200 yards off the ship's bow. We landed on the ice and it was a short hop back onto the helo deck. Paul was on the bow when we landed near the ship. He took a picture of Anatoly and me. In one of the pictures I am bent over. It looks like I am sick and throwing up. In reality, I was bent over to avoid the helicopter blades, and to be honest it made my stomach feel better to hunch over as I followed in Anatoly's footsteps to the final instrument.

The other helicopter tried to find missing instrument number 25. They were unsuccessful as well. Once I was back in the hanger, I told Larry that I had had enough flying for the day. I was a lot tiered than I thought I was and to compound things I was dehydrated.

When I got pack to the main lab, Russell asked if I was ok. I told him I was a little queasy. He got me some water and I lay on the floor for about 15 minutes. The water really made a big difference. I had been drinking two 32-ounce bottles of water every day. Once we started with the seismic work, I lost track of time and forgot to keep hydrated. I learned my lesson. I headed up to may room, took a four hour nap, and then headed back to the main lab to finish my normal watch shift.

It was quite a day.
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