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> August 4 – Southern Simushir, or Water, water everywhere, but how do we get it on the ship?
post Sep 13 2006, 08:05 PM
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Saturday, 5 August – Aboard the Gipanis, anchored offshore near Mil’na Bay on Simushir Island
9:45 am

Yesterday, we arrived offshore of Simushir just after breakfast. The transit across the channel between Urup and Simushir wasn’t too bad. I took a Dramamine just before I got out of bed and was able to eat all my breakfast without any wooziness this time. When the crew dropped the anchor at about 8:30 am, we couldn’t tell where the land was due to the heavy fog, but found out from some of the bilingual Russians that we were in a sheltered cove where we would be able to finally load freshwater into the holding tanks. Since it would take most of the day (or so it was THOUGHT) to load water and the study site was about 6 km away, Ben asked for a minimal group of only 2 zodiac loads (15 people) to go ashore. Everyone was polled for their preferences and it was determined that Ben, Jody, Tanya, Katya, Matt, Dena, Paul, James and 4-5 of the other Russian scientists would go to shore that day. The rest of us would work on lab work or other tasks and be at the top of the list to go to shore today.

The morning’s “entertainment” was watching the water loading operation being set up. As the fog began to lift, we could see that we were much closer to shore than usual, in a steep-faced cove and near to an incredibly beautiful multi-tiered waterfall. We mostly spent the next 2 ½ hours watching the crew and Dr. Shubin use the zodiac, all of the ship’s fire hoses, most of the life rings and a few life jackets, a large 55-gallon drum with a hole cut in the bottom and several lengths of rope tied together, construct an elaborate and what can only be described as a “Russian water loading system.”

They began with all of the fire hoses connected together and laid out on the deck. Then they transported several crew members and the large 55-gallon drum to shore by the waterfall. The drum was to be used to collect water from the stream and to create a reservoir of sorts for the fire hoses. As things were being set up at the waterfall, the zodiac returned to string out the lengths of fire hose from the stern of the ship to the shore. They took one end and started toward the shore. When they got about halfway, it was apparent that there was not enough hose to reach, so the zodiac stopped and the ship began to back up toward the waterfall. Unfortunately, as the ship backed up, there was enough slack created on the hoses that two of the couplings came undone. The zodiac, unknowingly, continued to shore with one end of a hose that was no longer connected to the ship.

At this point, more “comedy” ensued as the crew and Dr. Shubin worked to try and get each end of the fire hose – one from shore and one from the ship – close enough to reconnect them. Since fire hose doesn’t normally float, they strung the hoses through life rings and tied a couple of life jackets to them to hold them. Then they slowly backed up the ship and went back and forth between the floating ends with the zodiac pulling them closer and closer together until they could be connected. There was quite a bit of hand gesturing and instructions yelled in Russian, but finally the hoses were connected – with one end in the barrel, the lengths floated across the water, and the other end on the ship.

They took the ship end up where the water intake valves were located but couldn’t get enough head pressure from the other end for the water to flow. So the crew on shore moved the barrel higher up the waterfall to increase the pressure and after they had flushed some of the saltwater out of the hoses, water began to flow into the tanks. (See picture below – left)

This system works because the water in the barrel is physically higher than the ship’s water tanks. This way, even though the hose in between is lower, the pressure created by the weight of water in the barrel and first downward section of hose is larger than the pressure that is created by the weight of water on the upward facing end of the hose at the ship. This creates a force that can push the water through the lowest parts of the hose and as long as the reservoir is continually filled, water will flow into the ship’s tanks.

While the ship was tethered to the shore by the fire hoses, the group of geologists and archaeologists went ashore to Mil’na Bay. It was estimated that it might take 4-6 hours to load the 50 tons of water that we needed, so they would be coming back at about dinner time and we would be ready to head north to our next site.

Those of us who remained on the ship spent the afternoon still not trying to scratch our bug bites too much and comparing our swollen ankles, wrists and/or hands. Bre, Jesse and I worked for about an hour drawing excavation cross-sections from the archaeology test pits that had been done to this point. I also helped Mike sort some of the bones from the Kapsyul Bay midden site. There were naps taken at appropriate times. But one of the coolest things that we spent the afternoon doing was learning a bit of the technique of flint knapping from Mike.

Mike, Bre and I, with Jesse as a casual observer, gathered on the aft deck. Using a couple of pieces of junk rock, gloves and sitting on a piece of spare linoleum that is used for tent floors, we first learned where and how hard to strike a rock to create the pressure wave that spreads downward through the rock and causes a “flake” to fall off. We practiced with this for a bit and then Mike got out the thick piece of glass that he had saved from a large glass lens at Berezovka. It was about ½-inch thick and only very slightly curved. The internal structure of glass is nearly the same as obsidian and other glassy volcanic rocks that were used by ancient peoples to make lithic tools. These types of materials have few or no crystals inside them so the pressure wave propagates or spreads out very evenly, making a nicely shaped and useful flake.

After we had created some flakes, we also practiced retouching the edges to shape and hone the tool. We made flakes that could be used as cutters and some that could be blades or even tips. We even tested the sharpness of one or two by slicing open some of the fish that the crew had caught and were laying about on the deck. It was easy to see how a practiced hand could successfully make tools for all sorts of purposes. (See picture below – right)

We ended up staying at the water loading cove all night. By 8:30 in the morning, today, they FINALLY finished loading the rest of the water into the tanks and we headed out to our next destination – Vodopadnaya – which means waterfall and is located near the northern end of Simushir.

So here is a math challenge for you.
If we started loading water at 11:30 am on day and finished at 8:30 am the next day and we loaded 50 tons of water – what was the flow rate into the tanks in gallons per minute? The first 10 correct and properly documented answers sent to my TREC email by September 30th will be entered into drawing for a prize from the Kuril Islands. Be sure to state what information you have had to assume and to show all of your steps and calculations.

IPB Image
On the left: Dr. Shubin and one of the crew members work to connect the two ends of the fire hose – one from shore and one from the ship – so that fresh water can be loaded into the ship’s holding tanks.
On the right: Bre MacInnes works on flint knapping a junk piece of rock using a hammer stone to knock off flakes that could then be further shaped if necessary into usable tools. We really began to admire the craftsmanship that ancient peoples must have had to create such a wealth of lithic tools. It’s not as easy as it looks!
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