Leland Wood’s Blogs Leg 3

July 16 & 17, 2018

After a beautiful evening of the stars last night, I slept in quite a while. I missed the start of the deployment but I came out on deck just in time to see the mooring being deployed. Because the thing was so ginormous there was not much we could do except document and be in awe at how smoothly it went into the water. It was pretty cool to see the platform go into the water and be a part of this unique process.

Today, the 16th, was the first of the Jason dives and I finally got the chance to be in the control van!!!! It was so amazing to be apart of the crew that operated Jason. I started as the official logger in the van where I took notes on everything that happened. These are very important because they are used when people go back over the film and serves as a searchable marker to make looking at video easier. The first dive went pretty smooth. We went down to 600 meters and attached cable from the power node to the mooring cable. The bottom was full of huge sable fish, urchins, and sea stars! It was so peaceful and calming to see the undisturbed bottom yet so exciting and thrilling to be able to be apart of the Jason dive and experience this unique process in person.

After this shift ended at about 5:30pm, the next crew took over while I went for dinner. Jason stopped for a little bit on deck but soon went back down for the next dive. I was so thrilled to be in the van that I quickly finished dinner and then went back to watch the other crew and the pilot from the back of the control van. I helped out where I could and was able to use resources and memory to identify some of the organisms in the water column. At midnight (00:00) I took on another four-hour shift where I was again the logger for the Jason expedition. This was really exciting because I did not need any supervision and was able to do everything by myself. The goal of this dive was to install the profiler and PIA onto the mooring platform. The PIA was first and went in without a hitch. However, when the profiler went in, there was a problem. The latch would not fit in the hole which meant he profiler would not be secured! The pilot tried for a while but was not able to get it. Eventually it had to be brought back to the surface to be fixed and sent down. What was planned to be 20 minutes turned into 3 and a half hours!

Eventually the profiler was returned to the water where it could be secured and the cables could be plugged in. I stayed up all night to see the process and serve as the videographer for the last shift in the early morning. The dive went way longer than expected, but this also meant I was able to get more time in with Jason! It was such an amazing experience and I loved every moment of it! Even though I have been up for more than 24 hours, I would happily do it all again to be able to work with Jason in the future. I am so grateful for this experience and the VISIONS18 cruise for making this possible and making a dream of mine come true!

As for the rest of the trip, it has been too short. Today (the 17th) we are recovering the temporary mooring that was put in the water the first day. Then tomorrow, Wednesday, we are returning to port. I definitely wish there was more time in the cruise and I hope that I will be able to come out next year as well! I again want to thank everyone who made this possible and hope to see all of these new friends again in the future!

July 15, 2018

Last night around 9:00 we got to station and launched the CTD package to collect samples and a profile of the water. I helped with collecting the various samples and more about the chemistry of the ocean. After a good night of being rocked to sleep by the ship, I got up in the morning to help on deck launching the temporary mooring and the fiber optic cable tether. It was really hands on learning as we were able to help secure flotation devices and have a more active role in deploying the gear. The sea was fairly calm and working on an open deck wasn’t to scary. Most of the time I just helped the crew and landed a hand when they asked. There was quite a bit of work to do and I am definitely pretty tired after today. It can be pretty tiring when you have to work twice as hard just to stand up and walk. Installing the mooring and the line took almost 10 hours and filled the day with work and documenting the process. In the evening, myself and three others played a new game with one of the Jason crew and then went out on deck at about midnight to look at the stars. It was SO AMAZING! The sky was perfectly clear and there was very little light from the ship. We were able to see so many stars in the sky and where the Milky Way is. Shooting stars were a common sight as well and we always yelled them out when we say one. I was blown away at how beautiful the sky was!

July 14, 2018

Today is the first full day on the R/V Roger Revelle. Yesterday we came down from Seattle in cars and boarded the ship, got a tour of the ship, ate dinner in the galley, then played some in the lounge. We got to see some of the equipment that is on board, such as the ginormous wenches, the mooring, the profiler, an assortment of buoys cables, and finally the ROV Jason! After reading about the robot, watching live streams of its dives, and tracking its movement around the world, I was ecstatic to be able to see it in person and up close! Seeing it in person is so amazing and I couldn’t stop smiling and looking over all the equipment. I knew it was large, but it seems even larger in person and up close. I have always wanted to get the chance to work with Jason and now I get to experience this amazing equipment in person as well as be on the same boat as the pilot and crew!
As we left port, we went out onto the deck to watch the ship pass under the bridge and into open water. As soon as we crossed over the bar, the waves picked up and the ship started rocking. The waves were certainly larger than I was expecting and it took a little bit to get by sea legs back and not have to worry too much about the movement of the ship. Even though I (thankfully) don’t get sea sick, it is always a weird experience to have everything moving all the time.
We performed an abandon ship drill where we had to run to our berths, get our life preserver and gumby suit, and then return to the third deck where we called attendance and learned how to launch the life rafts. As soon as the alarm sounded we ran down to our bunks but we took a wrong turn and briefly got lost, it was a good thing this was a drill because we were definitely the last few people to make it out on deck.
We aren’t going super far out and so the transit should only take about four hours of full steam. Early tomorrow morning we will start the instillation process of the two-legged mooring! I am super excited to witness this process and help the crew install this state of the art piece of equipment. I’ve been told this ship is one of the only ones in the world that will be doing this kind of work! I am most looking forward to be working with Jason and spending time with my new ship family and learning their stories.