Matthew Munson’s Blogs Leg 3

July 17, 2018

Slept through breakfast for the first time this trip. I was told by Julie that I slept through a fire alarm, falsely triggered by welding on deck. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunities we’ve had to work on deck this leg; using the equipment gives a much better understanding of the theory we learn in school. After doing some cleaning, the engineers needed to spool some cable to be used on the next leg. Spencer and I got an intro to securing blocks to the deck and operating the winch, which was a lot of fun. We had 1000 meters of cable to spool, with a maximum winch rate of 10 meters/minute. After an hour and thirty minutes of guiding the cable along and holding the winch lever down, we could finally see the wooden core of the spool. Once the cable was tied off, Spencer and I joined the main group of students in collecting seawater from the CTD scanner. Filling beer bottles with seawater and adding reagents was reminiscent of chemistry lab, just a bit more fun. With boxes of full bottles stored away, we went up to the mess for 17:00 dinner. I’ve had an awesome time on this expedition and I’ve learned a lot about ocean engineering. Spencer and I are hoping to return next year and stay for more than one leg. If you’re reading this and are considering joining an expedition, go for it! It’s been an experience I won’t soon forget.

July 16, 2018

Felt exhausted for the first time this morning, but we were up at 5:00 when the crew began deck operations. An acoustic release on the temporary mooring was triggered, freeing the EOM cable we had anchored beneath the surface. A couple minutes later we spotted two buoys floating off the port side, the captain began to maneuver towards them. The resident tech used a hook to grapple the buoys and brought them onboard with a long pole. With the EOM cable on deck, we began preparations to launch the main platform. The launch time was written down as 12:00, so Spencer and I took a nap after our shift was completed. Unfortunately, the deck crew were ahead of schedule, and we missed the operation. It wouldn’t be the last time we saw the platform thankfully; JASON dives began at 15:00. We received a quick introduction to logging and recording the highlight tape. I managed to hit a couple buttons that I wasn’t supposed to, without consequence thankfully. The first two dives went off without a hitch, and we were ahead of schedule when my shift started at midnight. Unfortunately, the team ran into a problem when they couldn’t latch part of the profiler to the mooring and the dive had to be extended. I was absolutely exhausted by 2:30, and had Spencer take over for me. The news in the morning was that the dive resumed around 4:00 and made the connection after 5:00 before finishing up around 7:00. The Roger Revelle never sleeps.

July 15, 2018

We barely made it up in time today, not because of our sleepiness, but because we couldn’t hear my alarm over the sound of the engines. It’s not hard to fall asleep at sea though, the rocking of the ship puts me out quickly. From 5:00 to 8:00 Spencer and I took photos and videos of the deck operations, which included lowering the temporary mooring and securing a release mechanism which will allow us to recover this end of the line tomorrow. The sun came up about thirty minutes into our watch and we had a great view as it turned from a red orb to its normal yellow color. After breakfast, Spencer and I went back on deck to see what we could do, and were almost immediately drafted into installing small buoys onto a fibre optic line. The winch would pay out some cable until a piece of tape, placed at regular intervals, came across the line. The winch would then stop, and two of us would run out with half of the football shaped buoy each. The halves were placed around the line, and four bolts on one side of the buoy were pushed through and secured with a flat washer, locking washer, and a bolt: always in that order. A third student would then use an impact driver to tighten the bolt with a deck manager keeping the other end from moving with a wrench. We’d then hurry out of the ‘danger zone’ and get ready for the next buoy. The work was simple but a lot of fun, and it was great to feel useful. Along with buoys, we also helped zip tie fiber optic cable to the mechanical line and move deck gear into position for launch. We finished work at 17:00 and went up to the mess hall for the Sunday barbecue dinner. The best part was the eight or so boxes of ginger beer enjoyed by everyone. I spent my evening taking a tour of the bridge, where I found the two crew members on watch to be friendly and talkative. They joked that they spend so much time on their own together that they’re more than happy to talk to visitors. Spencer and I are on the 5:00 shift tomorrow, not sure how this keeps happening.

July 14, 2018

Departure day! We’re starting to get used to the meal schedule on board: breakfast from 7:30 to 8:15, lunch from 11:30 to 12:15, and dinner from 17:00 to 18:00. The first part of the day was spent loading more gear onto deck. We took photos of the operation, and even had a chance to secure some carabiners for the crane to lift. Departure was pushed back from 14:00 to 15:00 so the crew could spool some fiber optic cable without having to deal with the waves.

When the time came for us to leave I went up to the bow to get a better view. Sailing under the Newport bridge was awesome, and we spotted a whale spout in the distance. As we began to cross open water the waves picked up and I could feel myself getting a little nauseous. I didn’t have much time to think about it though because the main horn began blasting to signal our abandon ship drill. We stumbled through the pitching hallways dodging the more experienced crew members. Once we retrieved our life jackets and survival suits, we assembled on the bow and received instruction on how to launch a lifeboat. I was feeling very queasy at this point, and found a table to sit at to watch the horizon and reorient myself with some other students.

An hour into our voyage we felt the ship slow down and take a sharp turn. The captain, dressed in shorts, came down to our table to see how we were feeling.  After about two hours, a couple glasses of 7-Up, and some ginger crisps I was feeling better and able to walk around the ship again. I sat in on a meeting discussing tomorrow’s operations. The captain was concerned with the direction that the ship had to point while launching the equipment. Many factors including the wind direction, currents, and the position of the propellers were discussed, and it was interesting to see the multitude of disciplines involved. Work begins at 5:00 tomorrow, and Spencer and I volunteered for the early shift so I’ll be getting to see my sunrise.


July 13, 2018

Began the day at 5:40 to catch the van to Newport. I’m afraid this won’t be the earliest I’ll be waking up this trip, but seeing a sunrise might make it worth it. The six hour drive down went by faster than expected. None of us had any idea what to expect, but I knew I was excited when I saw the size of the Roger Revelle. We lugged our gear up a steep gangway and received our ID cards to wear while we’re in port. Upon entering the ship, I was immediately lost as all of the white painted hallways looked the same. We received a whirlwind tour of our rooms, the laundry, the mess, and the deck. My roommate is Spencer Nelson, the other mechanical engineering student on board, and we’ve found that we have many of the same interests. We also had an introduction to some of the crew members and science party in the main lab. The skip gave us an overview of some of the equipment on the main deck as we did our best to stay out of the way of incoming gear. We spent the rest of the night getting to know the other students on board, playing cards and monopoly to pass the time.