Thursday, August 30, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 31

Pack, pack, pack. That’s all we’ve got to do. I moved all these boxes up a set of steps, one at a time. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, “Why did he do that, all by himself? Why not use a crane to lift several boxes?” Well, first of all Mark helped, and second after an hour of work, we were done. Sure, there will be more to do tomorrow, but we’re at the point where pacing yourself is the best thing to do.

Sure, there are movies to watch, video games to play, and books to be read, but I’d rather get as much done first and rest later. Just in case something comes up that wasn’t anticipated, I’d rather deal with it now rather than deal with it at the dock.

The plan as it is right now, is to finish packing the Control and Image Vans today, get the satellite van situated and packed tomorrow (no more internet and phones), and pack the Tool van. We get to port on Saturday at about noon. There should be a car waiting for us around 2 pm to take three of us (Mike Durbin, Mike Brennan, and me) to Milan. There we have a hotel, so the next morning we can fly out of Malpensa to Boston.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 30

16 people got off yesterday, leaving 8 of us to finish packing everything up. We’ve got 4 days to take care of what the 8 of us could probably do in a day and a half. But, there aren’t any ports between Istanbul and La Spezia, Italy that we’ll be stopping at. So, we won’t kill ourselves trying to get it done in a day and a half. But, knowing how the guys left on board work, I’m sure we’ll probably be done with most things tomorrow.

For those that have asked, I will have Internet and phone connection up until the Midnight the 30th EST. I hope to get my last entry in, and then I recommend everyone check in on the 3rd, because I’ll be able to finish the last couple of days and give my final thoughts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 29

Two new things happened to me today. The first was we had tripe for lunch. Let’s just say, I didn’t finish the whole plate. And no, it doesn’t taste like chicken. The second thing was I got a rare opportunity to operate the Kraft manipulator arm. Todd Gregory, the chief pilot of Hercules, gave me some helpful tips, and then handed over the controller.

There are two manipulators on Hercules, the Kraft arm (so named by the manufacturing company) and Mongo (so named by the character in Blazing Saddles, played by Alex Karra, who’s most memorable lines are “Mongo like candy!”, and “Mongo pawn, in game of life”). Mongo is an old style manipulator. It’s still heavily used, but clunky and slow. To move Mongo from one position to the next, you enter commands on a push-button screen. If you want it to go left, you push “Left, left, left, left....etc”, and every time you push the button it moves slightly left. You continue to do this until you’ve moved it into position. This becomes slow, because the vehicle maybe moving slightly, do to current.

The Kraft manipulator is much more advanced. It has a remote that is basically a miniature of the arm, as you can see from the picture. And each joint in the remote, has a sensor that, when moved, mimics the same movement on the arm. To stretch the arm out on the vehicle, you stretch the remote out. It’s very tricky, because if you’re shaking (from too much espresso, say) the arm will mimic your movements. This makes it easier to move the arm to the correct position, and be able to react to movements of the vehicle, but makes it very difficult for a novice to pick anything up. I was commended on my skill at not moving terribly fast and being able to pick up a log, that was placed horizontally, and put it on end.

The other really cool part of the arm, is the fact it has, what is called, force-feedback. Which means if you try and pick up something that is too heavy for the arm to lift, instead of the arm straining and possibly causing damage to the manipulator, it will actually pull your own arm down. This minimizes damage to the manipulator and gives the operator a better understanding of what the object its trying to pick up is really like.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 28

Does everyone remember that Ramones song, “I wanna be sedated”? This has been our theme song for the past several hours. “Twenty, Twenty, Twenty-Four Hours to go-oh-oh, I wanna be in transit. Nothing to do, oh, no-oh-oh. I wanna be in transit. Take me to La Spezia, put me on a plane, I wanna be in transit!” What do you expect, we’ve been out here for 4 weeks. We’re getting a little bit loopy.

This is our last day on station. We’ll be checking our sonar packages that we’ve left around the site, to make sure when they were deployed they are in the right spot. There are two packages. They are both going to be on sea floor for a whole year collecting data, like current, temperature, salinity, etc. When we come back next year, we can look at the data and have a better understanding how the changes in the sea affect the wrecks we’ve been looking at.

The first sonar package was completely twisted. You think it’s difficult untying a knot, imagine doing it with a mechanical manipulator 300 meters under the sea. That was an amazing site, as they did an excellent job, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do it. Then we were in a two hour transit from one package to the other. The whole time, we saw blue, blue, blue water.

Tomorrow we leave around noon time, and head for a day’s steam towards Istanbul to drop our first set of scientists off.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 27

It seems we have a new friend. This is the Turkish version of our Coast Guard. They haven’t threatened us. They asked to board us a one point for an inspection, but the wind picked up and they decided it was too rough. It’s a good thing they don’t work for our Coast Guard!

We had a great watch. Now that we have our bow-thruster working to maximum capacity, we have DP (Dynamic Positioning). This allows us to stay in one position, no matter what the seas are doing, within reason. We started by finishing our mosaic, which is about the most boring thing to do during a watch.

Basically Hercules is positioned about 2 meters above the wreck and does a lawn-mower pattern over the wreck. This means the pilot tells the vehicle, “Go forward 6 meters, at .1 meters per second”. After that, they lateral (slide, without changing heading) left 1.2 meters. Then they move aft 6 meters, at .1 meters per second. All the while, specialized cameras are taking pictures every 10 seconds.

The whole process, depending on the size of the are you are trying to cover can take hours. Once the process is done, the pictures are digital “stitched” together to make one large image of the wreck. What used to take days, now takes hours. It’s still a pain-staking process, but if you mess up, there’s always “Undo”.

The whole time we’ve been to Sinop D, we’ve had one rule, “DON’T knock over the mast!” This is the only wreck known in existence, of this age ship, with a full, free-standing, mast. We don’t want to be the people to knock it over. When we didn’t have DP, because of the broken bow-thruster, we were able to start the mosaic. Any time we got too close to the mast, we’d back off and mess up the mosaic.

Now that every thing’s working appropriately we can finish the mosaic. This meant our pilot, Todd Gregory, had to get mere inches away from the mast, to get the best pictures. I’m pretty sure he held his breath the whole time, and was VERY happy when the mosaic specialist told Todd it was OK to back away from the mast, he had his pictures.

After that was done, we needed to get a full view of the mast. This meant we had to rise up, and follow the mast. The other thing that’s unique, is the fact the mast isn’t standing straight up. It actually leans bow-port. Which means if you’re looking at it from the back, it’s leaning forward and to the left. Again, no easy task, but Todd (holding his breath, I’m sure) flew Hercules like the expert he is. The mast stands 15 meters high, about 45 feet. At the base, it’s about 40 centimeters, or 16 inches. That’s wider than most telephone poles.

Once we got the full view you can see the top of the mast has a square hole on it. Supposedly, this is where the flag or insignia would have rested to declare the family or land the ship came from. Of course now there’s no flag, but it makes you wonder what was there before. At the top, there’s a piece of rope. It’s about an inch think, and you can still see the braids. This is also an aspect of this wreck that makes it interesting that some of the rope has survived.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 26

It’s hear! Late last night, coming to us on a FISHING TRAWLER, of all things, was our bow-thruster’s motor. It’s been a long week, since it left us in Istanbul. We’ve only been able to accomplish very little. Everyone’s waiting with baited breath to see that it goes in without a hitch. I would imagine the crew of the Alliance won’t be sleeping tonight, as I’d imagine putting this thing in is an “All-hands” type operation.

We spent last night with Echo in the water. After Echo came out of the water, the weather subsided and our hopes and dreams of being able to salvage the day were smashed when we started to put Herc and Argus in, and the weather picked up, again.

We tried our best to be patient, but after a week, our patience was wearing thin. Then we got the call: The boat with the bow-thruster’s motor on it will meet us half way. Hercules and Argus were on deck in short order, and we were beginning our 3 hour steam to the meeting place.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. After 3 hours of waiting we discovered the boat hadn’t even left the dock yet. Really? Are ya sure? Needless to say, there were some unhappy campers. So, we waited for a total of 6 hours and finally got the motor.

When Echo was in the water, it actually found half a dozen targets. After the motor’s loaded we’ll go back and look at them with Hercules and Argus. Putting the motor in will take about 6 hours or so, but doing a “fly-by” visual doesn’t require the precision as sitting on the bottom of the sea working on a wreck. We should be able to get by, until the bow-thruster is fixed.

By the way, please start viewing the rest of my pictures at It seems that flikr has a limitation of 200 photos. I’ve surpassed that. Two more shows, tonight and tomorrow. Noon EST. click on “Channel” and then click within the viewer window.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 25

This is Echo. As you’ll notice this is an old picture. We will be going by Stromboli, on our return trip to Italy. But that’s a week away. Actually 6 Days, 11 hours, 12 minutes, but who’s counting? Not me.

We’ve been very lucky the last couple of days, despite not having a working bow-thruster, the crew has worked very hard to hold the ship on station during our dives with Argus and Hercules. It is obviously very difficult to try and get a ship this size to stay put on a moving body of water.

Now that the wind has kicked up and the waves are getting wavier, it’s becoming an impossible task. What has been happening is we get close to the wreck, start working, the ship loses control and we spend the next 45 minutes to an hour trying to get back on station. It’s very frustrating, as we have no control over the situation, and we know the bridge is working incredibly hard to try and get us back on station. So, we go with plan B: Echo.

Echo is a side-scan sonar, which sends out sound waves. When the sound waves come back it produces an image. This image can be interpreted and analyzed by sonar specialists, who can see certain targets. Later we can take Hercules and Argus down and look at the targets found. Sometimes we find a wreck, sometimes we find a refrigerator. If we dragged Hercules and Argus along the sea floor, we can go about a knot. If we drag Echo along the sea floor, it can go up to 2 knots. This allows us to cover a wider area, in less time.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 24

It finally happened: The refugees (whether their the ones stuck on land or on the Alliance) have met their final destiny. The students from the University of Delaware, that were working with AUV, are finally going home (after 5 days). The scientists that have been waiting on shore to meet up with the Alliance have had a turbulent trip.

The best story happened yesterday when they climbed onto a boat and travelled 5 hours to middle of the Black Sea. They had the coordinates from the Chief Scientist on board the Alliance, but the captain of the chase boat decided he didn’t need it. When they reached the middle of no where and didn’t find the Alliance, the only ship they saw was an oil tanker. The captain asked the scientists if the oil tanker could be the Alliance, when they said, “No!” the captain went back to shore. He later called the captain of the Alliance to see if he had moved the ship. His answer was no, but when he asked what coordinates he used the answer was 34’ 11”. The Alliance was at 35’ 11”. Oops.

When they finally got on board the Alliance, I was pretty sure some of them were so overjoyed, they were smiling and hugging people, I thought a couple of them were going to cry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 23

This is Doc Mike Durbin. This Earth station is his home for the month. He is our satellite guru. Now that more people have been watching the show, the most frequent question I get is how we’re communicating and broadcasting to the world. For those that aren’t technical, I’ll try my best to explain this appropriately, and the rest, I’ll try not to screw this up.

We have two types of viewers, those who watch at home through the different web sites (Internet 1) and consoles at universities, colleges, and government facilities with Internet 2. We generate three video feeds; typically Hercules main camera, Argus main camera, and either a display of all the cameras or our navigational display. The three feeds are combined with three Tandbergs into one metadata stream with our phone modem and Internet connection. Metadata is a generic term for a stream of data filled with copious amount of different information combined together.

The Metadata is streamed over a 2.4 meter Off-set Elliptical C-Band auto-tracking satellite dish. Our satellite is at 224 degree heading and is 28 degrees above the horizon. This is such a shallow angle above the horizon, the dish is actually turned upside down to give more room to follow the satellite. It’s operating around 4.6 GHz.

The stream hits a satellite and turns the stream to the mushroom farm (an area filled with many dishes) in Andover, Maine. The stream is transmitted to URI in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island by a DS3 stream. DS3 is a type of metadata stream that can be transmitted over fiber. In the URI campus, three things happen: The metadata is stripped of the phone modem and Internet information. This is why the IP addresses we use are based out of URI and the four phone lines we have onboard ship show up as a Rhode Island area code. Secondly, the metadata is rebroadcast to all of the consoles around the US where they can view all three feeds. Currently there are 11 sites. Lastly, the metadata is broken up, and video feed number one is rebroadcast to the internet feeds viewed on the different web sites.

In the past, the shows are produced in URI and rebroadcast to many sites. Not only are the web sites receiving the broadcast, but there was another Ku-Band satellite truck at URI to broadcast the feed to the Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs around America and all of the Jason sites. This time the show is produced on board ship.

Black Sea 2007, Day 22

We’re here!

This is the first time an expedition has been back to Sinop D since 2003. The questions abound: What has happened in the last four years? Has the mystical mast fallen over? We’ll find out in the next week.

At Cherosenesis D the wood we found was very brittle. If you used a standard painter’s brush over the wood it would actually damage the wood. The most interesting part of Sinop D, is the wood is actually very hard. As an introduction for most of us, who weren’t there four years ago, Todd Gregory (one of the pilots), gave a slide show presentation of what they found last time.

There are several aspects of this wreck that make it exciting: There’s a 13 meter (40 foot) mast that is still standing straight up (which is UNHEARD of). The wood is so hard when they came last time they needed a core sample of the wood, they had Little Herc (which doesn’t have any manipulators). What they did was manufacture a small metal tube on the front of Little Herc, like a joust, and drove full speed into one of the pilings. Thinking this thing was going to buckle over, it actually took the full force of Little Herc’s punishing blow, and the vehicle took some damage. To remove Little Herc from the piling, they had to wiggle the whole ROV.

We’re here to uncover more of the wreck, and get a more definitive view of what the whole ship looked like.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 21

We arrived North of the Bosphorus around 5 am. This boat was waiting patiently to unload our broken bow-thruster. The hope today WAS to wait around 12 hours and make a personnel. There are people on this boat that were supposed to get off on the 17th, and there are people on land that were supposed to be on the boat on the 17th.

I’m sure there’s a hefty bill for hotels, food, and transportation because of all the events that have gone completely wrong during this expedition. I’m just happy I’M not the one working on the logistics for this trip. I’m pretty sure there are people on shore that have more than one plane ticket for their name.

After a day of working on tying up the loose ends that have been troubling us for days, wiring in Echo’s Benthos box, we finish up by producing our Immersion Presents Daily Updates. Every day, at noon, if you watch the streaming video at click on “Channels” at the top of the page and you too can be updated.

We started the shows two days ago, and end on the 26th. It’s simple, but we’re doing quite a lot without a lot. Doc Mary and I joke the two of us are the producers, directors, APs, ADs, Tape, Audio, A2, Lighting Directors, grips, and Stage Managers. At least they’re seated the whole time and don’t move any where.

After waiting 12 hours we were told we couldn’t make the personnel transfer. We started our transit to Sinop D, where we’ll be dealing with an older wreck than at Cherosenesis. 24 hours from now we’ll be in the northern section of Turkey. Our hope is that we’ll be able to make the personnel transfer. If not, I’m pretty sure there are people on board the ship that will start swimming.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 20

This is Webb Pinner. He’s our resident IT and computer guru.

While we’re on station, we work during our scheduled watches. If there’s still work to be done, we take care of it in between our watches. When we’re in transit, there are no watches and there’s no set schedule. This means people tend to work as long as they can, until they drop.

The best part of transit, is this time gives some time for relaxation later in the day. People tend to unwind; watch movies, play video games (Halo RULES!), and just hang out. This is where the strong friendships are created, and the best part of being at sea. I think it can be a harder day at work, but the end of the day makes it all worth while.

This transit takes us North of the Bosphorus, off the coast of Turkey. The plan is to unload the broken motor for the bow-thruster, unload the science party that’s done, and bring more scientists on-board. The hope is if we unload the motor in the morning, we might have it fixed by the afternoon.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 19

There are three reasons I climbed that mast: 1. I’ve never climbed a mast that put me 100’ above anything. 2. The mast is next to all 5 exhaust systems from the generators aboard ship, which coats the mast with a thick layer of soot. Which means I got to keep the white overalls. 3. I needed some good pictures for my blog.

The Flamingo was towed to shore and everyone arrived safely. I’m pretty sure the champagne was flowing as soon as they got their feet on dry land. After the flooding of the Flamingo, all the support equipment between the two ships was pulled down. That includes the WiFi antennas that allowed the press and scientists on-board the Flamingo to watch the video we were transmitting, as well as have Internet access.

The gentleman, Dave Wright, who set it all up was one of the guys that went to shore to enjoy the champagne. Someone needed to take the antenna down. There were calm seas, not a lot going on, and did I mention I got these cool overalls!!!! They didn’t end up very clean.

The Captain has been working on a way to fix our bow-thruster. There was talk of going to a port in Istanbul (the first thing I thought of was, “Yippee! Shore leave!”). After making plans to go to Istanbul, we heard from Dr Ballard. It seems they were talking with the First Lady of Ukraine, and the President offered to fix our bow-thruster. Well, that’s a turn of events!

It seems every newspaper on this side of Europe is covering Yushchenko holding a jar, we recovered, standing next to Dr Ballard. Although it didn’t work out in the end (a NATO ship in a Ukrainian port just ain’t gonna happen anytime soon!) the press for Dr Ballard and IFE is sky-rocketing in this part of the world. Future treks to the Black Sea and this region look promising.

Instead of going to port, the plan is to anchor off of Istanbul, put the blown motor in a chase boat and take it to shore. Hopefully the machine shop can fix it in short-order. Then we’re off to Sinop D, to see another wreck.

By the way, we got the AUV on deck. It was flooded with water.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 18

You might’ve remembered the Flamingo was supposed to keep a wide distance from the Alliance, well, judging by this picture something went wrong.

The last 24 hours have to be, in my personal history, one of the weirdest days of my life. It’s going to be a long story, and I hope I don’t drift too much. So, try and keep in tune with my train of thought. If you notice a long row of X’s, that’s because part of my story can’t be displayed for the world to see. But, if you REALLY want to know, buy me a beer and I’ll gab the whole thing. Trust me, it was worth it!

The day started with the President coming on board the Alliance. Dr Ballard and Dr Buxton (one of the archeologists) gave Yuschenko a presentation about what IFE is all about, what we found within the wreck, and what the future holds. The President seemed very intelligent, he was asking a lot of questions geared towards a relationship between us and the Ukrainian government. Dr Ballard’s big push is to get into the minds of children and show them the wonderment of undersea exploration.

After the presentation, the President and his wife (who happens to be an American, by the way) went up to the Control Van to watch the pilots retrieve a jar off of the wreck. The President sat in the pilot’s chair and drove Hercules. After he felt like he was used to the controls, he asked, “Can I pick up a jar?” Of course no one wants to tell the President of ANY country “No”.

So, Dr Ballard and the other scientists looked at each other and said, “”. The only way they could get out of it was by explaining to the President that it takes several years of practice to get used to the controls of the Manipulator and it would be better if he was driving the vehicle, while one of the experienced pilots picked up the jar. He agreed, we got it on tape and thank goodness he didn’t plow the vehicle into the wreck.

The President and Dr Ballard moved over to the Flamingo to view the jars that had been collected, and we got back to our regularly scheduled programming. That was until the AUV team on the Flamingo announced to us they had lost their AUV. Oh, crap.

An AUV is an underwater vehicle that is preprogrammed to do a certain set of tasks. It’s not connected to the ship by any control wires, like the ROVs we have. If it’s told to travel 3 miles in one direction, turn right, travel 2 miles, turn left, etc. it does what it’s told. All the while it’s collecting data, typically side-scanning or multi-beaming. This data is stored within the memory banks of the vehicle. While it’s doing its set of tasks it continues to send out a radio signal that tells the operators, “Hey, I’m OK. By the way, I’m over here now.” When the vehicle’s last task, which is typically “Come home”, is given, the operators bring the vehicle on deck and download the information. Sounds easy, right? Right.

Unfortunately, like most devices, things sometimes don’t go as planned. They knew something was wrong when the vehicle was sending out that signal of “Hey, I’m OK. By the way I’m over here”, but it was giving completely different locations every time. The operators were starting to get nervous. Then it stopped transmitting all together. Oops!

We had five different locations through a 5 square-mile area to search. (The next part is censoredXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. But, through all that trouble, we found it. The problem was, there was no easy way to retrieve it. Then the fire alarm went off. Needless to say, we didn’t retrieve it.

No one knew why, but we all mustered, as we had been instructed to, on the boat deck and had our names tallied. Typically if it’s a drill, they let us know ahead of time. Now this takes some of the surprise factor away, but we don’t want people panicking for no reason. We also didn’t see any smoke (a tell-tale sign of a fire). We dispersed, but later found out our bow-thruster’s engine had malfunctioned, creating a lot of heat and smoke. Dr Ballard’s comment was, “Well, here we are, back on the Endeavor!”

For those that are new to our blog, or don’t remember, last year when we were in the Black Sea we were working on URI’s boat, the Endeavor. It was a tired ship, with a great crew. Unfortunately, their bow-thruster died. The importance of such a device, is that it helps hold the ship in one position to allow the vehicles to work affectively and carefully in one position. Without it, it becomes difficult to keep steady in calm waters and non-existent in rough seas.

It was fairly late in the day, but the phone calls started, and people started looking to see if there’s a port available in Istanbul to replace the motor. If it can be done in a couple of days, we’ll stop what we’re doing, head to Turkey and have it replaced. Shore-leave for all!

Now, this crew hasn’t worked without a bow-thruster on this ship. Ever. One just doesn’t know how a ship will handle until you try. The plan was to head for the wreck site, place Argus in one position over something stationary (like on of our buoys we have setup) and see if the crew can keep steady for half an hour. As we were getting into position to test the capabilities of the crew, we received a May-Day from the Flamingo that they were taking water into the engine room. Oh, crap!

We had an emergency recovery of the vehicles, which I’ve never seen done and basically means everything they do to recover the vehicle is done at a high rate of speed. The vehicles came on deck very smoothly and we steamed at full power towards the Flamingo. The work boats were loaded with life-jackets, just in case, and we prepared food and blankets in the conference room for our new arrivals.

When we got to the Flamingo they started setting up shuttles back and forth, bringing all 34 people on board the Alliance. The first thing that was easy to notice was the stern was very low in the water, which is indicative of the engine room being flooded with water, a LOT of water. Second thing that I noticed was that they did have a pump running, and it was pumping a lot of water, but it obviously wasn’t enough.

It seems the main drive shaft’s seal had been leaking for a long time, and they never fixed it appropriately (surprised, anyone? Anyone, at all?). It gave away completely with a loud “BANG!” The passengers got up (this is all happening at about 11:45 pm) and the captain of the Flamingo told them to go back to their rooms, everything was alright. Five minutes later the leader of our group said, “OK, everyone on the deck, we’re moving to the Alliance.”

After everyone was on board, the Flamingo tied up to the Alliance, and the Alliance’s pumps were placed inside of the Flamingo. They had three pumps running at once, and they were STILL pumping out a lot of water. Jeez, how long were they going to wait to get this thing fixed before the ship sank?!?!?!?!?!


Finally around 3 am, a tugboat met up with us, hooked up to the Flamingo and got ready to tow it to shore. The refugees were piled, some unwillingly, back onto the Flamingo and were towed to shore.

I’ve been up for over 24 hours. I’m going to bed!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 17

There was an ROV pilot who had been working with Dr Ballard for over 20 years. The last project he had worked on was the Black Sea in 2003, when they found Wreck D (which is the next leg of our expedition). Dr Ballard and Jim Newman (his Senior Engineer for several years) had a small ceremony for him where they placed his ashes on Hercules. In the next couple weeks or so, when we go to Wreck D, his urn will be placed amongst the wreck.

The vehicles were on deck for most of the day while we took care of some issues we’d been dealing with over the past couple days. The Flamingo is where the preservation process is taking place, as we’re not allowed to bring artifacts on board the Alliance. We spent part of the day passing people and equipment back and forth. At the end of the day, we had a Skype chat with video. They wanted to give us a salute, by showing some of them were half naked and drinking beer. Thanks, Dave Wright.

We had the Ukrainian version of a Coast Guard Cutter next to us for most of the day today, as President Victor Yuschenko will be visiting us tomorrow. This means we’ve had some pretty heavy security coming on board. When the security officer came in flip-flops and was smoking a cigarette I figured our NATO ship would be cleared for our high-profile visitor. If you’re not familiar, President Yuschenko is the gentleman who was found poisoned during the elections, and although he came through the ordeal he is still horribly disfigured in his face. His wife is an American, and actually was supposed to come out to the RV Endeavor when we were here last year, but it was either last moment or something came up. I really don’t remember.

We’ve started lifting Jars and Amphora off the wreck. They are getting catalogued by the archeologists and some will be raised with an elevator later. But, for now they are lined up like bodies in a morgue with toe-tags hanging off of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 16

You’ll notice this picture of the Flamingo is REALLY far away. There’s a reason for that. Over the past couple days we’ve been using a Marine VHF radio to communicate back and forth between us and the Flamingo. It’s also the operational channel the Alliance and the Flamingo communicate on. We’ve heard them tell them to veer off a couple of times, which means, “Hey! You’re too close! Back away from the NATO Research Vessel!”

There are pictures I’d prefer to show you, but I can’t, because of the sensitive nature of what we’re looking at, but we’ve begun the archeology part of this leg. We spent the first couple days making mosaics of the wreck site, so that when we did start to dig, the scientists would know where stuff was, before we moved it or changed the site. For those that don’t know, to make a mosaic you take about a hundred pictures from above of the wreck. Then using software you can stitch the pictures together to make a huge picture of the entire site.

You’ve seen in movies where the archeologist is using a paint brush to lightly brush away sand and sediment from whatever object we’re looking at. It’s long and arduous work, but in the end you’ve got something that’s uncovered and (hopefully) undamaged. In this case the manipulator has a few options: a paint brush, a soft cooking spatula, a wire basket (for sifting), a vacuum, and finally a VERY gentle jet of water.

When there’s masses of mud and dirt sitting around something, we can use the vacuum to pull the sand away. When we’re working in a tight area, we have the brush and spatula. When we’ve made a huge mess, but there’s only a light dusting, then we fly over the wreck and use the downward force of the props to push the sand around. It’s not the most gentile and scientific way, but damn-it we move a LOT of sand!

Today we’re also picking up and moving some of the jars and amphora. It seems there are different types of vessels within the wreck. Most of them are jars (one handle) and there are a couple of amphora (two handles) in the wreck which makes it interesting to the archeologists. The other interesting part, is we just see this pile of stuff: jars and wood, sticking out of the sand. When we start to dig in one area, a small piece of wood (maybe about a foot) is uncovered we discover it isn’t small at all. One piece is a good 10 feet long! This maybe the tip of an “iceberg”!

Black Sea 2007, Day 15

Just another day at the office.....

It seems we just can’t get a break on this expedition. But, the good news is, no one can. As I described earlier, there is so much press for this cruise we have a second boat, that’s basically a hotel, called the Flamingo. They haven’t done anything to make life easier for us.

The purpose of the Flamingo is to hold more scientists, engineers, local reporters, the crew filming for National Geographic, and an AUV team (AUV = Autonomous Underwater Vehicle). The idea was while we were working on Wreck A (as it’s lovingly titled) the AUV team would scan around the surrounding area and look for anything else. And, because of limiting space on the Alliance, there would be people transfers almost daily.

To back up a bit, Dwight Coleman, another IFE scientist of Dr. Ballard’s is in charge of what’s happening on the Flamingo. It seems all of the AUV gear got stuck in customs for a few days delaying everything. But, no matter, the crew of the Flamingo were having their own troubles and they weren’t going to be on schedule either. To make matters worse, the crew from National Geographic went through Moscow (because they left from the West Coast) and ALL of there television equipment was lost. Oops!

After a day and a half, the Flamingo finally left port. When they arrived on the ship, nothing seemed as it was supposed to be. First of all, the Flamingo say they have double births for every room. What we’re used to is two bunks per room. What Dwight and company found were double beds, meaning two people shared a bed. Oops!

Second, it seems this boat is more of a party boat, where the captain really isn’t used to “At sea operations”. When they left port, and we’re only talking 20 miles away, Dwight asked if the captain had the coordinates to meet with the Alliance, it seems the response he got was, “Eh? Don’t worry, we’ll find them.” Oh, boy.

The first morning the Flamingo arrived on station, there was the first people transfer. The deal was made that the Alliance would transfer equipment back and forth between ships, but the Flamingo was in charge of the people transfers. When Dwight got up the first morning and asked to get the chase boat out, the captain said they didn’t have any gas for the boat. Then, later, after getting jerked around by the crew some more, it was revealed they had “Some” gas. Finally it came out they had 25 gallons. When they went to put 25 gallons worth of gas in the chase boat, they found out they didn’t have ANY! Then the captain looked at the swells and said, “We can’t launch in this weather!” and stormed off. The seas were calm that morning. Sigh.

One day, the Flamingo was heading back to shore, and one of the engineers, Dave Wright, called the Control Van to ask for directions back to shore. We all laughed, knowing the trouble they’ve been having over there. Later we thought about it a little more: Was he being serious?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 14

It took us about an hour, but we found it again.

We’re sitting on top of the wreck we discovered last year during our trip in the Black Sea. We were just hunting around, trying to find what we could see, and ran across this pile of amphora with some wood sticking out of the sand. Some might think, “Hey, that just looks like someone dumped their trash at the bottom of the sea!” But, what’s cool is that if you look at it from above, it’s in the shape of a hull.

The reason ships, like this one, have been found in the Black Sea is because there is an anoxic level. What this means is there is level of salt water on top of a level of fresh water. Not a lot of critters and bugs live in this anoxic level, especially the type of creatures that eat organic material, like wood and rope. The biggest reason we come to the Black Sea is to check out what’s around, because it’s so well preserved.

Now, we are talking about wooded ships that were sunk over a thousand years ago, so they aren’t in pristine condition, but there’s still some wood left, and it tends to hold its shape a lot longer, if it was eaten away in the first 20 to 50 years. This is very exciting for archeologists, as this is a way to look into the past, as these wrecks are preserved so well after so long.

Don’t worry about my picture above: Doc Mike moved the dish before they tried to move the Zodiac back on deck. It’s hard to tell, but the bladder that helps float the Zodiac is punctured in the bow section. It seems during there wild ride, when they sucked 100 feet of rope into their impeller, they also hit the side of the ship at such a velocity they burst one of the seams. Did I mention the seas were calm that night?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 13

First I’d like to thank Doc Mary for supplying this picture of me.  Just another sunrise, in the Sea of Crete (obviously this is an older picture as we’re steaming through the Black Sea).  Some people have asked me about all the other pictures I’ve taken during this expedition.  I’ve added them to  You can find them at  I hope to continue uploading pictures as I take them to flickr, I suggest you save this web site and check it when you can.  Again, I’d like to thank Doc Mary for giving me some her pictures.

Not much is happening as we prepare for our next leg in the Black Sea.  We should get there about 7 pm tonight and we’ll multi-beam through the night.  When we multi-beam we’re generating a map (bathymetry is the sciency word for it) of the sea floor.  This is where you can look at the images created and pick out shapes by what they look like and how high they are.  This can tell you where underwater volcanos, ship wrecks, and the Lost City of Atlantis might be.  So far all we’ve found are bags of trash.

Something that has been completely different is the food aboard the ship.  As I described early on, we’re fed with white-cloth table service.  We have an Italian server named Tony, who spent 10 years in New Jersey, he makes us Cappuccinos and Espressos every morning with breakfast.  At lunch and dinner we receive a menu.  We’ve been learning Italian by the menus, as Tony has had to translate it for us at every meal.  We have set meal schedules that if we’re late we get the evil eye from Tony.  The menu consists of a salad, soup, past, two entrees, and two side dishes.  With diner we’re offered gelato, which is excellent.  During the day, there are two coffee breaks at 10 am and at 3 pm.  On Thursdays and Sundays the 3 pm coffee reak includes a dessert.  I’m doing everything I can from eating EVERYTHING!

Black Sea 2007, Day 12

That’s it, we’re off!

We’re hanging out at the mouth of the Bosphorus waiting for our people transfer, fuel, and stores. Because of political reasons our only stop after leaving port in Italy is back to Italy. It kinda stinks that we’re so close to land but can’t go walk on it. We were really spoiled last year, when we got to go to port almost once or twice a week.

We leave tonight for Chersonesos, which is off the coast of Ukraine. We’re going to wreck A, where we’ll be doing archeology and actually picking up amphora from the wreck site itself. For those that don’t know, amphora are pottery that held oil, wine, olives, etc to be transfered from one place to another.

Black Sea 2007, Day 11

It’s our last day in the Sea of Crete. In a few hours we’ll be heading for Istanbul to drop off some scientists and engineers and picking up new ones. Dr. Ballard will be coming on board at this time for a week or so.

The first leg of this expedition certainly has been interesting and entertaining. We’ve learned about the crew and style of taking care of the vehicles. Don’t worry, they really are nice and are learning quickly. The one problem with this people transfer in Istanbul is that we lose a gentleman by the name of Mark Deroche for a week or so.

Like last year, while in the Black Sea we’ll have a chase boat that has been given many names: The Chase Boat, the Vodka Boat, the Party Boat, etc. It’s real name is the Flamingo and it’s basically a floating hotel with a bar that isn’t under lock and key (unlike ours!) There will be day trips between the Flamingo and the Alliance to bring scientists and a camera crew from National Geographic.

So far things have been going well for us. I think after 3 years of working with the IFE crew I’m starting to get the procedure down. I’m almost at the point where I can anticipate what they are going to require before they ask. There are always the “Oh-By-The-Ways”, and I always expect it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 10

We received word, and it’s official:  We’re going to the Ukraine!

After many conference calls and paperwork traveling all across the globe, the Ukrainian Government has convinced NATO (and consequently our Captain) that the retired mine field we will be entering has been cleared and is safe for undersea operations.

Today is our last day on the bottom of the Sea of Crete.  We’ve seen more rocks and mud than anyone should be allowed.  It can get very boring during this time, especially if nothing comes into view.  So, what tends to happen is people tell stories.  Most of which I can’t tell to ANYONE, especially on this blog.  So......

For those that are new to our blogs, or haven’t read about or seen an ROV launch and recover I will describe it to you now.

The system the Institute For Exploration (IFE) uses is two vehicles.  There’s Argus and Hercules.  Argus is the depressor vehicle.  It is lowered from a very long wire and is a smart dead weight.  It has very little control of where it can move.  To move Argus you have to move the entire ship.  While it’s dangling at the end of the wire, it can move left or right around the wire.  There are two large lights that act as street lamps for Hercules below it, and there’s a large HD camera to view the position of Hercules.  This typically gets the scientists excited, because it gives a large overview of where Hercules is.

Hercules is the big man himself.  This vehicle (shown in the picture above) is connected to Argus with a 30 meter (about 100 feet) kevlar tether.  This allows Hercules to move anywhere within a 30 meter radius of wherever Argus is.  And, with slack on the tether, it allows whatever rough seas are above to not affect Hercules operations.  Hercules also has an HD camera, that gets stunning footage from under water.  There are two manipulators on Hercules that can use tools and pick up samples from the sea floor.

Black Sea 2007, Day 10

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 9

Let talk a little bit about undersea operations.

There are many types of undersea vehicles. They all have their ups and downs. There are subs, but they have a limited time on the bottom which equals a limited range. And there are robotic vehicles that can go forever, as long as things don’t break, or there isn’t a long transit between sites. Either way, if the vehicle has a manipulator to pick up samples (rocks, sea life, sand, etc) there is a limited amount of room for samples.

That’s fine for a manned submersible, but really stinks for an ROV that’s working properly. So, scientists and engineers being as smart as they are devised what’s called, an “elevator”. An Elevator is a platform that is fitted with both flotation devices as well as lead weights, that’s dropped to the sea floor long before the vehicles are launched. This gives the ROV pilots a “Platform” to place samples on, to empty out the containers on the ROV. Once the elevator is filled with samples, instead of bringing the whole ROV back up to the surface (which takes a lot of time away from searching and collecting), a command is sent to the elevator, the elevator drops its lead weight, and the flotation devices bring it to the surface. The elevator is brought on board and the scientists can have their samples. This is how its supposed to work.

Now, if you were one of the people that received a daily journal entry through e-mail back in 2005, when my father and I were on the Ronald H Brown, you might remember how elevators work. AND you might remember we had problems with that elevator. For those that are new to our blog or don’t remember, let me refresh your memory. Back in 2005, our first expedition with Dr. Ballard, we went to the Atlantic Massif, which is a ridge line in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We had the typical complement of Herc and Argus, and we used elevators. Of the two we sent over the gunwales, we only ever got two back. Not good. Especially since these things are not terribly cheap. They run on the line of about $20,000.

What happened then was, we threw the thing overboard and the transpoder that tells us where it is turned off (OR was never turned on, we’ll never know). We had a pretty good idea where it was, it was just a matter of finding it. We checked all of the ocean floor as best we could. We never did. So, in a move of desperation we sent the signal that tells the elevator to drop its weights. Once that happens you circle around the ocean looking for it. We never did. Sigh.

THIS time, when we threw the elevator over the side, the comment made when the transponder woke up was, “Well, we’re doing better than when we were in 2005!” So, we waited until it was time to bring it up, sent the signal out for the elevator to drop the weights, and.....Nothing happened. Double sigh.

But this time we knew where it was. So, we put Herc and Argus over the side and found the elevator. Now, in years past when this has happened there’s been a lot of debate about what to do. When the transponder receives the signal to drop the weights, what it actually does is connect a battery to ground through a very thin wire. When the thin wire heats up, because of the electricity flowing through it (for all those not technical people, think of how a light bulb works AND how delicate it is), the wire breaks. This wire is holding a lever in position to hold up the weights. When it breaks, it releases the lever that releases the weights. Unfortunately it hasn’t had a good track record with us.

So, there are two options: reach the manipulator into the elevator and cut the line or grab onto the elevator and recover the vehicle. If you cut the wire with the manipulator inside the elevator, there is a great possibility for the elevator to rise before you’ve moved the manipulator out of the way, so that option is very rarely used. I’ve been told sometime before we were part of these expeditions that they did find the elevator and grab onto it. Then when you get to the surface you can cut the wire, because the elevator is already on the surface and has no place to go.

Well, having some idea of the problems that could occur the smart engineers that they are put a pull string that was 12 feet long on the thin wire, so if this happened they cut break the wire from a good distance away. So far I’ve been setting up the story that made last night another “interesting” night.

So, as you can figure we found the elevator with Herc and Argus, pulled the string, and watched the elevator rise. Start your clocks at 7:30 pm. The elevator is much lighter than the vehicles, so it reached the surface quickly. To retrieve an elevator you launch a small boat, clip a rope to it, drag it to the main boat and haul it up with a winch. We knew we were in trouble when we heard they needed to get the second small boat to retrieve the first boat and the elevator. It seems the first boat got the tag line snagged in their prop. Now, what I haven’t told you is that these boats don’t have any outboard motors or props, per se. They have jet water drives, like the personal water crafts and jet skis. So, the crew sucked 100’ of rope into the impeller, disabling the boat. Oops!

When they went to retrieve the second boat, they had to lift it over the satellite dish, missing it by INCHES!!!!!!! Needless to say our satellite guy, Mike Durbin, survived, as he had his heart restarted. It seemed to the crew a heart-stopping moment, either way, we won’t be putting the boat back in its original holder.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 8

The vehicles are back on deck, and it’s a miracle they made it. As I said yesterday, the crew of the Alliance handles the vehicles during launch and recovery. The recovery started at 4 am. The vehicles didn’t get on deck until 7:30 am. There are scuffs, cuts, and damage to the vehicles, tether, and the safety lines.

When the crew of the Alliance brought Argus on deck, the first time, they pulled the safety line in (which is connected to Hercules). They pulled the safety line in and started pulling Hercules in, then the boat took a hard turn to port and Hercules started moving to the opposite side of the Alliance. When the line tender started losing his grip on the safety line, he let go. The safety line got sucked into the rear thruster of Hercules.

Now, it’s dark out, they have no safety line, and most of the crew are asleep. So, the crew unsecured Argus and lowered it back down into the water. Once it got light out they tried again. Getting Argus back on deck is easy, it’s attached by the winch wire. Hercules doesn’t have a safety line to pull it in, so what would any sane person do? How about get in a little chase boat and snag it with another safety line attached to a hook. Did I mention it’s rocking and rolling on the Mediterranean?

The good news about the whole ordeal was that I wasn’t in the little boat. Jim Newman, who has been working with Dr. Ballard from almost the beginning, got the honor. The only way the driver of the chase boat could get Jim close enough to hook Hercules he actually drove OVER Hercules. That was bad! Then the crew on the Alliance pulled in on the new safety line and got Hercules on deck. I’m sure there were a couple of people who’s heart stopped on the vehicle was secured on deck.

The worst part about the recovery was getting the chase boat back on board deck. It seems one of the line tenders from the Alliance didn’t catch the stern line on the chase boat. The chase boat swung out, slammed into the side of the Alliance, all while at a 45 degree angle. Oops! Thank goodness Jim got back on deck safely.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 7

Today’s the day! Our first dive. Everyone’s very excited. We haven’t gone in the water since Galveston, in March. It’s always nerve wracking, because you never know what you forgot to do or what you didn’t calculate correctly.

The good news is these guys have been doing this for so long they’ve got there ducks in a row. The bad news is with every ship comes their own quirks. With this one, the IFE crew isn’t allowed to touch the vehicles during launch and recovery. IFE brings its own bosun to handle the vehicles on deck and during launch and recovery as they have a direct “Hands-on” approach with the vehicles. This should add a new twist to the whole experience.

We start going “On Watch” today. Typically we’re working 24 hours a day. Unfortunately the human body can’t continue working 24 hours a day, for too long. So, they break it up into three times during the day. There are three shifts: Midnight to 4 am, 4 am to 8 am, 8 am to Noon. And then it repeats: Noon to 4 pm, etc. This is nice because you work four hours and then have 8 hours off. During the “overnight” time you have a chance to sleep, during the “day time” you can get work done (or blog) or read, watch movies, etc. During this leg of the expedition there’s Doc Mary, Bob Knott (ex-Chief engineer out of Rhode Island Public) and me. Bob has Midnight to 4, Doc Mary has 4 to 8, and I have 8 to Noon.

Black Sea 2007, Day 6

We dive tomorrow. Today is our last day to get things squared away. After today, there’s no chance in turning back. But, we’ve got our cameras hung and wired. We’re streaming to the internet: or or If you need assistance in finding the feeds within these web sites, let me know.

Life aboard ship has been interesting, as usual. Somethings have been the same (Don’t put your screwdriver down, because it won’t be there when you reach for it, etc) and somethings have been drastically different. On our transit from Italy to Greece (We’re south of the island of Santorini) you NEVER felt the engines and you RARELY felt the boat roll. This is a very quite boat, it seems not only are the engines on dampeners where they are connected to the ship, BUT it seems they are surrounded by a noise deadening system. That’s cool!

Our bunks are small, as usual, but we have our own shower and toilet facilities in each cabin. Typically we’ve had to share those with at least two other people in another cabin. The bedding is comfortable, but everyone (and I’m referring to the Americans) are stunned and confused as to why we’ve only been given a comforter to sleep with. We’ve had to ask for a sheet, to sleep with, as it’s so darned hot in all of our rooms. It seems the A/C units don’t work fantastically in the living quarters as all of the heat being produced by the engines and equipment take the responsibility.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 5

At 7pm (Local time, by the way we were 6 hours ahead of the East coast, but then we passed through a time zone, and now we’re 7 hours ahead. Boy this is a really long comment on this subject. Maybe Parenthesis weren’t appropriate. Oh, well) we had a science meeting to discuss where we were going and what we are going to do when we get there. It just so happens that during our meeting we were passing by the volcano pictured above.

The volcano is named Strombolli. There’s a volcanic activity named after this volcano, because it’s so unusual. It was pretty cool, considering it’s always smoking, and every once in a while it belches out this tremendous cloud of smoke.

The plan is this: We go to the Sea of Crete, just south of Santorini (where we were last year, in the caldera) and we’ll do some Multi-beam and exploration with Hercules and Argus. Then, we don’t know what we’re going to do. The plan, originally, was to go to the Black Sea off of Ukraine and then off of Turkey.

Well, see, here’s the thing: The Captain of our NATO ship and NATO don’t like the fact we’re going near/in a section of the Black Sea which used to be filled with underwater mines. Now, we went there last year with the RV Endeavor. We saw the warnings on the map, but had no problems, didn’t see any mines, and the Ukrainian government said the area is clear. So, we’re probably not going to the Ukraine.

Second, when you go to explore the body of water that boarders a country, you need to get permission from that country so you don’t violate any laws. It seems, even though we’ve been planning this trip for quite some time, that we don’t actually HAVE that permission. Oops!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 4

Today we continue running cables. We ran all of our cables to the specific locations and then started running cables for the cameras. We have cameras that cover the safety aspect of the operations and the fun cameras.

We have a winch and wire camera that give the pilots a visual of how the wire is paying out and in from the winch (and making sure the wire doesn’t overlap and cause crimps in the wire) and how the wire is entering the water, to make sure it doesn’t come too close to the stern of the ship. It seems in the past, there have been ships that the wire was rubbing up against the stern, and after reeling in 3000 meters of cable (9,000 feet) it started to cut through the ship. Ouch!

Then there’s our “Spy” camera, which allows the pilots to just have a view of what’s going on on deck. If they’re doing a safety check with high power, they want to make sure the deck is clear, before they flip the big switch. There’s a robotic camera on the fantail, which allows Dr. Ballard to move it around and show the viewers at home what’s going on at sea. There’s SUPPOSED to be a robotic camera inside the control van, but when we opened it up, it was broken. That sucks!

Oh, well. By the way, we’ve left the dock, and we’re OFF!

Black Sea 2007, Day 3

We started emptying out the vans of all of our “Stuff” we packed into them in June, when we shipped them. Over 30 crates and boxes, air conditioners, transformers, and lots and lots of cable.

When everything was emptied out, we started running our wires from the vans to strategic locations throughout the ship. On the Alliance we have three locations onboard ship: The Main Lab (Where there’s a Plasma screen, an intercom, a phone, and internet connections), the Bridge (a Plasma screen, an intercom, and a VGA display) and the Bar (a Plasma screen). Yes, this ship has a bar. It’s only open while the ship is docked, and let me tell you, it’s a crummy selection, but it’s the cheapest bar I’ve ever been to. Beer .50 Euros, shots of Vodka and Rum .25 Euros each, and Coke is .50 Euros.

We worked all day just getting things set up.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Black Sea 2007, Day 2

Today started out interesting, I slept in. Didn’t mean to! Wasn’t planning on it! But, it’s OK, none of the vans have showed up yet. It’s sad when we’re on a ship that costs about $40,000 per day, and everyone’s in their bunk or taking a walk into town.

Doc Mary and I took a walk into town. As you might remember we’re parked in one of Italy’s Navy bases. There are a lot of guards around and, as you might imagine, there’s quite a lot of water here, too. Of course we’re on the opposite side of the bay, from where the center of town is. We walked through the base and exited by the town. That walk took about 30 minutes. We had a lovely time.

La Spezia is definitely one of those hidden cities of Italy that doesn’t have a touristy thing about it, so most people will pass it by. It’s very pretty here, but there are no major museums or attractions. We walked through an open-air market and had a fantastic time using our broken Italian to find different stores for the items we were looking for (a USB cable, Q-Tips, and a SIM card). One thing you have to love about European countries: they will almost doing anything to help someone out. We just HAPPENED to find a computer store, but they were out of USB cables. The young woman behind the counter asked if we could come back in the afternoon. Not knowing when the vans were going to show up, we said, “No”. She said, “Alright” and sold us the USB cable she was using for her printer, at a discount.

Our walk back was a little more adventurous, since there is a gate by the boat, but you basically have to walk all the way around the bay. What took us 30 minutes the first time, took 90 minutes this time. That took some time. After we got back the vans arrived. Finally, something to do!

As our boss, Jim Newman described, we got more done in 3 hours, that usually took two days. Don’t tell those that judge our budget. Why would they allow three days for what took us a day and a half to do. We sweated, we broke our backs, and we still got it done in short order.

Now, I need some sleep.