Biggest curveball of the day goes to Chuck Fisher for announcing that we will be out at sea an extra day. As chief scientist he felt that not having an Alvin dive yesterday or today meant that things would go unfinished. He wasn’t happy with how the imaging turned out and feels that one more dive is needed, which the NSF agreed to fund. I can understand where he’s coming from. We’re already out in the middle of the ocean and it would take a lot more effort to get a whole new cruise lined up to finish the work. I know it’s an inconvenience to most everyone on board and for me, losing a day back at school will make taking exams interesting…
The good news, however, is that the seas have calmed down quite a bit. They were rough this morning and into the early afternoon, but have mostly settled out now. It got pretty bad last night though. My bed is basically a pullout shelf with a mattress on it, so it doesn’t have much support. It also doesn’t have any railing to keep me in. The huge swells last night nearly bounced me out of bed three times. I contemplated moving my mattress to the floor. However, the weather reports look good for tomorrow and I can only hope for calm weather so we can get in the last Alvin dive.
Since there was no dive today, there wasn’t much to do (other than make rearrangements of travel plans). I cleaned a couple things in preparation for tomorrows dive and took a shift watching the multibeam sonar topographic map, but that’s about it. I did get to watch the film crew set up for a shoot though. It took a surprisingly long time for them to get the lighting and camera angles just right. Then I got to watch Helen make her TV debut as she talked with Amanda about oil and its impacts on microscopic life in the seafloor. It was pretty funny to watch at first because they were both a little uncomfortable with being on camera, but as the interview progressed it got much better.
I’ve completely lost track of time while on the ship. Schedules and routines are determined by if there is an Alvin dive, not what day of the week it is. For example, I thought today was Sunday and our 6th day out at sea. It’s Monday and our 8th day out at sea.
Tomorrow is Alvin’s last dive before it goes under reconstruction for about a year. Talking to some of the Alvin crew, I learned that the improvements will allow new Alvin to dive to 6500 m, deeper than any other manned submersible on the planet. New Alvin will also expand the hull by about 7 inches, which may not seem like much, but will make quite a difference. All modifications have to be somewhat confined, however, because they don’t want to change the A-frame, storage hanger, or any other fitted equipment on the Atlantis. The dive plan for tomorrow is to successfully image the coral as detailed as possible. Chuck and Mike will get the last dive. Also, Sylvia Earle will be coming on board tomorrow to watch Alvin’s last dive and do some filming. It should be an interesting day.