After steaming all night, I got up at 0430 to watch the sunrise over the Loyalty Islands which was pretty special.
Today is the day we start the research assault on the trench. All of the warnings regarding the heat up this neck of the woods turned out to be true. With four guys sleeping in a very small room, the temperature is unbearable, the complete lack of oxygen is rather uncomfortable too.
I had my morning briefing with the Captain as usual about where we are going to put what.
The plan is to run a transect from 4000m to 7500m at 500m intervals, which is eight stations with 4 bits of gear, i.e. 32 deployments, plus the 8 we already have from the South Fiji Basin, plus potentially another 4 from there on the way home. That makes 48 deployments, i.e. 40 to go, i.e. we are no where near that yet.
Anyway, being the hadal have-a-go-heroes that we are, the Captain pointed out that unbeknown to me, there is a deeper bit near here. Just SSW of the ‘Ile Matthew’, there is an 8300m deep hole which is just one mile across at the bottom.
We have decided to deploy some gear in this hole on the way home for two reasons. 1) deep is what we do best and this essentially represent the hadal equivalent of a mountain, and 2) it is my 2-year old sons birthday today, called Matthew. All seems like a good idea.
We spent the day preparing all the gear and started deploying every to 4100m (stations 9, 10 11 and 12). The heat and humidity is so unbearable that most of us were on the verge of vomiting all day. After all the macho bravado of not having puked during the storm, I found myself almost puking on Steve while deploying the lander. Scottish people are not supposed to be in the tropics.
My 10,000m rated temperature sensor told me that the temperature in the lab where I work is currently 29.7456°C, which is hot. There is no ventilation except for a occasional wafting of diesel into the room every time the engineers come up stairs, and after they change the seawater tanks, that is often mixed with a little sulphur. The only smell to mix into that is the mackerel bait. Happy times.
Anyway, with all that and the anaconda of guilt wrapped tightly round my neck for being 16 million miles away on my sons birthday (I was on Kaharoa when he was born too), it was hard old day. It seems likely that I drank over twice my body weight in water and even that had no effect whatsoever.
In the evening we tucked into a birthday cake for Matthew baked by Caorl the cook and thanked Hades himself for letting the sun go down.
From here on in, it is lander in, lander out, landers in, landers out…..
Happy Birthday Little fella.
Alan – 16th November.