Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another very long day

January 4

January 3rd was a really long day for me. I keep meaning to write up my daily schedule hour by hour, but I keep getting into too many details. So I will do a combination of the two.

Midnight till 2:30 AM:
I was working at midnight, sampling the underway and watching the pump for an hour from 12 AM till 1 AM. "Pump watch" is an ad hoc activity we had to come up with to overcome our ship's design limitations. Our underway intake line is located 4.5 m below the water level, so when we roll for more than 5 m, there is a possibility to catch air bubbles. The pump dries out and many instruments in the lab do not like an inconsistent water flow. So during the rocky seas we "watch" the pump, to avoid breaking instruments. A bit of a reality check for all the PIs on board, especially those who expected our ship to have the 21st century equipment.
I spent 1 AM to 2:30 AM checking messages and talking to friends. It is usually much quieter at night and I get a better signal.

2:30 AM to 6:30 AM
I was sleeping.
I meant to get up at 6:00 AM as we were planning to do a deep CTD cast followed by a SOCCOM deployment, I had trouble waking up and since we were not stopped at this point, I got up around 6:30 AM.

6:30 AM to 11:30 AM
As I got to the oceanography lab I learned that the CTD stations have been canceled due to high swell, but we are deploying SOCCOM floats at around 9 AM. We decided to launch the sensors in pairs since we couldn't do a CTD cast and water sampling for calibrating the sensors. With two they can at least calibrate against each other.
Jenny and I with the help of Dave (there are a lot of guys named Dave on this leg ;) got one of the floats out and tried to secure it to the pole. It was extremely windy and the ship was rocking hard, so we did not dare to take the second one out. We used all our bunji cords and rope on a single one.
At 9 AM we did not get to the deep enough waters, so the SOCCOM launch was postponed. Finally at 10:46 ship time  6:46 UTC we started launching our SOCCOMs. We successfully deployed two (black one from this picture):
I do not have any picture of the deployment, since I was busy doing it. But there were a lot of people watching since there wasn't much else going on. I hope I will get a nice picture or two from them.
As we were putting the first SOCCOM out of the box, the crew was rather curious. At some point as I was checking on how well the first SOCCOM is secured to the pole, a boatswain asked what they are. And while we were deploying the float, I could hear him talking to other crew members explaining. It was rather cute!

11:30 to 14:30
After we deployed the floats, we had lunch and went upstairs to write to our collaborators about the deployment. It took a while since internet is slow.
I was also expecting another atmospheric river event to come, so I talked to Iris and Pascal to check the time we will need to start launching radiosondes. It wasn't until 9 PM ship time, so I signed up for the night shift to help out.

14:30 to 16:30
Since I knew I will be working all night I decided to take a nap.

16:30 to 21:30
As I woke up on January 3rd for the second time I decided to start off the day "right". I did my yoga and meditation.
At our daily PI meeting we were discussing coming to Hobart a day late since we are so delayed already. I have mixed feelings about it, I do want to have more work done, but I don't want to miss out on the valuable time with friends in Australia!
I spent dinner time and after sorting out the schedule for the radiosonde launches at night - it is impossible to launch a radiosonde alone, you need at least one person, maybe two or more in high winds conditions helping out. It wasn't easy to find help for my 2 AM and 4 AM launches and I am forever grateful to my colleagues agreeing to help out.

21:30 to 6:30 AM.
I spent most of my time launching radiosonde or collecting precipitation samples outside. I also had my daily midnight underway Ocean water sample to take. I had big plans to go to the gym between the launches, but ended up having no time or energy for that unfortunately.
The 4 AM radiosonde launch was the most dramatic. The weather was awful, winds were very strong with even stronger gusts, it was raining too. I had two people helping me, who never launched a balloon before and we ran out of helium. At the time this happens, I was lying on the helo deck under the balloon launching structure, unable to leave as I was holding a half-blown balloon. So I couldn't troubleshoot anything and after waiting for two minutes in the cold we decided to launch a half-blown balloon to get at least some data. The launch was really dramatic - the balloon went down first, but then it picked up and was able to climb up to 3.5km.
After the launch I had to go change helium bottle to prepare for the next one - it was a hard task to do. The bottle (even empty) was really heavy and we had to travel down two decks and then all the way to the front of the boat. After realizing that there is no way I can lift the bottle even together with Ilya (ship meteorologist, who was super helpful, found a two-wheeler and everything!) I went around the sleeping ship trying to find help. It was hard, but I managed. I had an interesting failed attempt, when I asked a colleague checking his email to help, he said yes, came to help deck, saw the helium bottle and said "no way in hell I am lifting that" and left. I have to say it was my first time, when a person reacted like that. I was surprised he did not say "no" right away then, would have been less dramatic of a moment ;).

Since I stayed up so late after my last scheduled launch at 4 AM changing helium bottles, I decided to help the 6 AM shift with their launch. It was much smoother, the sun was out, helium was abundant and we have extra hands.
On that note, I went to bed. It was 6:30 in the morning on January 4th by then and I was totally exhausted.

I have to add, I spent most of the day on January 4 sleeping and doing minor maintenance and translating tasks. It is the evening of January 4th as I am writing this. I know by now that both SOCCOM floats we launched started communicating (hooray), we have a nice long record of vertical profiles through another atmospheric river event and I feel rather satisfied. We are approaching Kerguelen island and we decided to shut off the underway pump not to get kelp seaweeds on it. So no midnight sampling for me.
Good night everybody!

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