FeMO2 Dive Cruise 2007
Report Day 01 -- Thursday 11 October 2007 -- Finding FeMO

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Six a.m. and the last of the crew is aboard getting the Kilo Moana ready for sea. About 7 a.m. the order comes over the loudspeaker "All ashore that's going ashore". The gangway is craned aboard and the ship leaves the pier. The ship turns 180 degrees into the channel and makes her way to the fueling dock. It takes more than 3 hours to fuel the ship.

Spinner dolphins are up to speed

At 8 a.m. the scientists convene in the conference room for a science meeting. A driving consideration is the anticipated rendezvous with the Kaimikai-O-Kanaloa several days into our work at Loihi. The Kaimikai-O-Kanaloa (otherwise known as the K-O-K) is the mother ship to two Pisces manned submersibles that will also be working on Loihi. The purpose of the meeting with the K-O-K is that they have agreed to try and recover an exposure experiment that was not found during last year's dives. To stay clear of Pisces dive area the FeMO scientists have agreed to start deep on the eastern flank of Loihi.

Quickly additional decisions are made. A network of 2 transponders will be laid at the deep site to accurately navigate Jason. Prior to deploying Jason a CTD cast will be made. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature and depth and an electrical wire to the ship records these parameters continuously as the instrument is lowered by a winch to the seafloor. The CTD is attached to a rosette sampler - a cylindrical cage carrying 24 water bottles of 12 liters each. The rosette will be lowered to just above the bottom with the bottles open, then an electrical signal will be sent down the winch wire to close one or more of the bottles. The bottles snap closed and trap water at the particular depth desired. As the CTD is winched up through the water column additional bottles can be closed at the desired depths. Following the CTD cast Jason will be put in the water. Jason's goals will be to recover experiments that were placed at this site last year, deploy new experiments, sample microbial mats and rocks altered by microbial activity.

Carolyn, Alexis and Suzanna bring the hydro
lab into shape

Following the science meeting captain Rick Meyer delivers a safety briefing. Topics include deck safety, emergency procedures, fire and boat drills, Material Data Safety Sheets, trash protocol, meal times and other responsibilities. Nothing goes into the toilets that has not been swallowed except toilet paper. No plastic can be thrown into the water. No open lights on deck after dark. There will be a fire and boat drill shortly after we leave harbor.

We get under way about noon and head out through the channel leaving Honolulu harbor. The captain announces that a small pod of dolphins has joined us and are playing on the bow - and tells us this is an auspicious start to a research cruise. Following lunch we muster in the staging bay near the fantail for the fire and boat (abandon ship) drills. After roll call we go up to the 01 deck to receive instruction for abandoning ship and deploying life rafts. And finally Reed and I try on the survival suits. The suit is a bright orange, oversized neoprene wet suit that I finally got on after some stretching and struggling and desperate wriggling. By the time I pulled the hood over my head I was in a full sweat even in the air-conditioned lounge. But once encased you feel nearly invincible padded by a think layer of bouncy orange rubber. As safe as I felt, I was sweating like crazy and wanted out quickly.

As always a fine sunset

The rest of the day is spent setting up labs, scheduling sampling events, preparing instruments and the like. Carolyn, Alexis and Suzanna attack the huge amount of gear in the hydro lab that must be put away and tied down. Don Nuzzio begins assembling his precision instruments. The Jason team works to prepare for dives that can last for more than 3 days - the preparation must be meticulous if there is to be no electrical or hydraulic failures.

We head southeast from Honolulu and watch Molokai, Lanai and Maui pass off our port side. The northeast trade winds blow between the islands causing a vigorous swell, but in the lee of the island the swell is much lower and we enjoy a fine sunset on a settling sea.


Shawn Doan onboard the R/V Kilo Moana
11 October, 2007

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