Jack MaCafferty's Blog

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
 Jack McCafferty

20 Aug 2014

When doing IRLS for any dive we are to mention any sightings of biology. For my dives those have included hagfish, starfish, ctenophores, sea urchins and some siphonophores. My first dives were entirely empty, I saw all that on only dive 1749. You get a better view of animals outside, though.

In the first couple of days there were a bunch of whales, none did a jump, but many breached the surface. I had never seen such large whales, one had to be a least be 50 feet long.

A couple of days ago a few porpoises were swimming around the ship, it was amazing view. They stayed for about 20 minutes, practically surfing the bow waves. I saw a mola mola, basking in the sun earlier today. It didn’t last for too long, it went with the current. It was a small one probably less than 4 feet from the ends of the fins, but it was cool to see.


18 Aug 2014

Every day we have a lecture at 2’oclock in the afternoon, generally regarding the science of the expedition from a scientist, or engineer. They are always very informative and interesting, but very text and word heavy. The lectures give you a more informed world view, but they don’t inspire any emotion, at least for me. Today we got to see Dana Africa photo’s from her scuba diving trips. They were phenomenal, from all across the globe, trips to Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and the Cocos islands. I had never seen variety of fish, or even so many colors. There were hard corals, soft corals, sponges, blue tangs, whale sharks, and hundreds of other fish I can’t even name. The giant clams, had such effervescent and richly hued lips. The nudibranchs seemed dreamlike, with their iridescent and wild colors. She had close up photos of sharks, hammerheads, white tips. I can’t even imagine going into the water if I knew a shark was within half a mile. I hope I never forget a single one of those photos. My favorite photo was a picture of sea grass, with a coral branch in the background. It looked a field during the night, with fish for stars. The lectures are for the students, sometimes there is a crewman checking their email in the room, but it’s overall empty. Today the entire library was filled with scientists, engineers, and crew workers, to see the photos. This lecture made me want to abandon everything and just travel the world, to head south and visit the tropics, and learn how to scuba dive. It probably wouldn’t be the best long term plan, but now I know I want to visit Southeast Asia.

16 Aug 2014

For the class each student needs to come up with a project, to present. Since there is no time or data to do research, everyone does a video, or the occasional PowerPoint. My first thought was to do a video regarding the BEP someone else with video skills decided on that also, so I backed off. Then I came up with the idea of a video about the R.V. Thompson herself, regarding her Propulsion and engines, wasn’t relatable to RSN activity. All the ideas I could come up with had either been done or wouldn’t work well, there were about a dozen like this.

Then I came up with the idea of the CO2 and pH detectors. No one had done them before, and I can expand it into their use regarding ocean acidification. Individually they would be small, important but a small part of a big picture thing combined it’s an important subject. I can do a 2 part video one scientific and technical, focusing on the how the detectors work. The other one can be emotional and scientific, how the ocean is getting more acidic, its effect on the ecosystem, our economy, and our culture. It can be scientific and a tear jerker. The only problem is I have no clue how to do video work, it might be a slideshow.  


15 Aug 2014

Today I had my first real experience using the IRLS for dive 1746. The majority of the 4 hour session, I spent looking at old dives or talked to Marine. Every 15 minutes or so I input a new observation in the series when either half or a full layer of cable on the spool had been used, e.g. KP - 0.969: Cable layer in spool: 8 which is then followed by the heading, depth, and speed. For the entire run no biology was seen, meaning it was fairly dull to watch the monitor for all that time. Once the cable was all laid, a survey was done, and the ROCLS unit was relatched to ROPOS. Even so with this, it was observation every 10 minutes or so. It was a slow day. I know that nothing can be pure adventure but a more interesting view would have been nice.

I always knew AUV expeditions must be time consuming to mitigate any potential error. All the servos, wires, and motors have to be checked. If any issue occurs millions of dollars could lost in a flash. The delays can be huge for a start, ROPOS was supposed to be launched at 10 AM one day and got launched a 5 PM.  

14 Aug 2014

Today at 8 am began my first watch, for video logging. I was impressed with the attention to details in previous observation logs, and the recording methodology. Each phase of the mission has it’s own observation series, each event its own key phrases. I was only there for the ROPOS ascent, but I got to learn the system.

For the first lecture we were give a tour of the engine room. I was surprised how small each reverse osmosis machine was, two of them supply all the freshwater for drinking or bathing, and they were each smaller than a sedan’s trunk. The main generators were the size of vans and were so loud it was deafening even with earplugs. Even at mining equipment at fort Edmonton I had never seen such large 16 cylinder engines. The tour really gave me a new perspective on the shear size of the ship, using up to 4,000 gallons of diesel in one day and a capacity of 230 thousand gallons. When you walk in the ship it can feel small, and occasionally cramped, then there are vast empty rooms for the generators. It can get easy to forget the ship is nearly 300 ft long.  

13 Aug 2014

For the expedition I had a large number of assumptions. I thought the food would be freeze dried cafeteria food, the boat cramped, and the living conditions terrible. I thought the cruise would be fun, but living on it would be awful.

The food was delicious at every meal. The fruit was fresh, the eggs and turkey tasted home cooked, the baked goods were perfect, and the coffee was a premium roast. The coffee was as good as Starbucks. A good caffeine source is important if you have an early or late shift. My room is small, but I spend most of the time in the rest of the boat so it isn’t a problem. The bed which is the important part is soft and easy to sleep in. The shower is tiny, but it still has a good temperature range, and enough pressure. All the negative presumptions I had turned out to be wrong.