As the weather reports predicted, there were high winds and large swells today so there was no Alvin dive. Instead we’re steering in straight lines and using the ship’s multibeam sonar to create a basic topographic map of the sea floor. Although it makes a really neat map, it means we’re going straight into the waves, which hasn’t made for a gentle ride. I would say about half of the science group has spent most of the day sleeping to avoid being nauseous and seasick. Luckily, I haven’t had any trouble other than being slammed into the walls a few times.
Since Alvin didn’t dive, it was the perfect time for an onboard tour of the AUV. Even though it looks relatively spacious on the outside, the actual living space is quite cozy. There’s definitely no room for more than three people. The windows to see outside are no bigger than a dinner plate, and the screen to view what the camera on your side is recording is about 4″x6″. The space above the sitting area is covered with switches for all the different functions Alvin can perform. The pilot seat has a small scale replica of one of the arms, which he moves to move the corresponding part on Alvin’s arm. It seems pretty nifty, maybe one day I’ll get to see it in action…
For a day off I was kept pretty busy. After lunch I washed all the push core supplies in case we do get a dive tomorrow. There were two days worth of cores to clean, so it took awhile. After that I spent about an hour and a half in the cold room changing the preservatives of some of the tubeworm samples. On this trip, my biggest fear has been to get locked in the walk-in freezer where we are storing our samples. The door can only be locked manually from the outside, but shuts automatically to keep in the cool air, and every time I go in I think it’s going to lock me in there.
Even with all my busywork, I was able to steal a chance to go outside and stand on the bow and ride the waves as they came crashing in. The bow would raise up really high and then slam back down. It felt like a roller coaster going over hills. The weather isn’t supposed to get any better until tomorrow afternoon, but there are hopes of one last Alvin dive before we head back to port. The dive will probably be delayed, but a late start is better than no dive at all. Chuck wants to image some more coral at the first dive site so that we will have a more complete profile of the coral community.