Tuesday 6 March 2012

It's only rock and roll but I like it...


There's been a bit of a break since the last entry; following the departure of Ulric, Hayley and Ana, Endeavour has laid up in Lowestoft for two days for crew change, taking on supplies and preparing for the next phase of the survey.

Over the next two weeks the plan is to collect data to on the range and extent of broad scale habitats in the recommended North Sea MCZ’s, namely Compass Rose, Rock Unique and Farnes East.

With a a fresh crew on board we headed off on a foggy Friday afternoon to our first site, Compass Rose. The weather was kind to us in the first 24 hours however the winds and swell soon picked up.

Leaving Lowestoft through the bridge
Looking back on Lowestoft

There are many general procedures in place to keep the crew safe, everyone has to wear a hard hat and steel toe cap boots or wellies while on desk for instance. There are special cases where additional measures are needed, for instance when we are working with an openings in the stern (back) and side of the ship (these are typically kept closed unless needed for the deployment of the camera sled).

When the side or stern door is open we have to wear a life jackets and personal location beacons. Should the wearer fall over board, the beacons automatically set off an alarm on the bridge, the system also indicates where the ‘man-over-board’ is relative to the ship, this aids search and rescue efforts.
Personal Beacon
Working on the edge!
We have various other tricks and techniques for making the best of bad weather; one simple procedure is to ‘knuckle down’ the cranes used for lifting equipment over the side so that the crane head is much closer to the deck, with less cable out the equipment can’t swing about as much.

Crane 'Knuckled Down'
When the weather is too bad to operate our sampling gear we can sometimes still operate our multibeam, however this too is affected by the weather, as the ship rock and rolls it increases the errors in our data.

Sunday night through Monday we worked through Force 8 gales and rough seas, head way was slow against the winds and data quality was poor. Typically when collecting multibeam data we travel up and down the area of interest like you would if you were mowing a lawn, however we found we were able to get adequate data when running in one direction with the winds, so for each zig-zap across the site we were only collecting half the usual amount of data; we'll something is better that nothing in these situations!
Force 8 Gales
We have finished our last video sled run tonight, so with only a few lines of multibeam to collect at the Compass Rose site, we'll soon be heading north to an interesting 'Chalk Reef' on our way to Rock Unique, but more on that tomorrow...