Today we transited from the Oregon Offshore site to Axial base, around 18 hours. Transit isn’t as fun as being on site because we can’t do too much in terms of science or maintenance work, so I spent a lot of today just hanging out with the other students, taking tours of the ROV and bridge, and taking naps. I woke up in time for my 12-4 watch, but since there wasn’t a dive happening I just took some extra time for breakfast and drank a cup of tea on the bow with Andrew and a few other students. Around 2, we met on the stern of the Thompson and talked to Keith – the ROV Expedition Lead. Apparently, the ROV cost 7 million dollars including the crane and all the equipment it needs. That’s a lot of money.
Since cruises and other science started happening again on a large scale post-covid, Keith said they’ve been booked and busier than ever as scientists rush to make up for lost time.
After touring the ROV, we headed up to the bridge and talked to Todd, the second mate. He walked us through all of the ship’s systems and even gave me a chance to steer the ship for a minute! When we got done with the tours, it was nap time and I slept until dinner. Dinner was noodles, polenta, and green beans with a lemon poppyseed cake for dessert. I sat with Eve and Jo for a little while, then made myself a cup of coffee and went into the library to listen to music for a bit. After a little while of that, we started a game of darts and I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get a bullseye on the moving ship. It was definitely the most fun I had all day, though. After a quick shower, the midnight-to-4 watch started and we just hung out in the library until we reached Axial Base.
The ROV dove around 2:3 am, and we did our typical logging and photography until the shift change, then I promptly went to bed.
August 10: Sun!!!! It’s finally sunny!! We’re on station this morning about 36 miles off the coast of Oregon, just close enough to where you can see the coastal mountains. I slept from 4am-11:30 this morning (my shift is 0000-0400) and got a quick “breakfast” of curried lentils and rice before going down to the ROV control room. They didn’t start the descent right away, so I had a bit of time to kill before I actually needed to be in the ROV room. I went back up to the galley and made some tea and had some minestrone soup, then I went out on deck and spent some time in the sun with a few of the other students.
Liz, one of the marine techs, showed us how to set up the CTD for deployment, and then Julie taught us how to sample for dissolved gas from the CTD. I hadn’t been up to the bridge yet, so I decided to go up and look around. The second mate gave us a walk-through of each of the displays and how the systems worked, and we got the chance to ask questions about everything.
After that, ROPOS was ready to dive and I went down to the control room. Today, they’re working on replacing the shallow profiler at the Endurance Array, so we only dove down to 200 m. They had a bit of trouble locating the profiler, so after they finally found it the ROPOS team conducted a visual inspection, then went to work according to the dive plan.
After my shift was over, I went up to the galley and grabbed a snack of beignets from this morning (when I was asleep) and a cup of coffee, then went out on the deck to catch up on my logs. After sitting outside for a few minutes, I went in for dinner and had a whole plate of veggies. Following dinner, I worked on some exploratory research for my project and looked through cruise plans, RCA instrument descriptions, and the research of scientists on board to try and get some ideas.
The sunset today was lovely, with a few scattered clouds highlighting vibrant pinks and oranges. There was also a beautiful moonrise as the sun was setting. Before my midnight ROV shift, I took a short nap in my room and listened to some music.
The ROV dive tonight was super cool. It was foggy and glassy calm during the launch, and during the dive the ROPOS team took down the replacement for the shallow profiler and installed it on the mooring. The deployment looks super cool at night because you can see the ROV glowing under the water until it fades out of view.
I slept until around 11:30 today after going to bed at 4 (late night ROV shift). Lunch (aka breakfast) was BYOB (Build Your Own Burritos), and it hit the spot after feeling awful for all of yesterday. I got seasick twice and I think I slept for around 16 hours. I woke up feeling better this morning, though. I did my ROV shift from noon-4, then took a nap from 4-5. During ROV shifts, myself and three other students log major events of each dive and any biology we see, and take photos using one of the ROV’s onboard cameras. After dinner, I decided to try out the workout room and did 20 minutes on the stationary bike. So far, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone and getting used to being at sea itself. The ROV operations are also super cool to be a part of because after we leave each site, the equipment won’t be seen or touched for at least a year. Each dive helps ensure that every component is functioning perfectly so that scientists can continue to receive quality data until the next VISIONS’22 cruise. During the midnight shift, the ROPOS team was working on one of the primary nodes. There was a small white octopus on the node during the noon-to-4pm shift, and he was there when we went back later. We named him Casper!