GUE’s Project Baseline Fiji 2017 Mission Days: Five to Nine

I truly have completely lost all track of time. Up, going at it all day, bed. I know when the day starts because it begins to get “light” outside; bedtime is when I realize it has been dark for a long time and I start to forget what I was planning to do next. I can say with tremendous pride that all the teams have been absolutely crushing it during this mission.
It is 22 May, Fijian time. That makes it Mission Day 9. The last 5 days have been a blur and I literally find myself stopping and counting in my head to figure out what day it is! So here I am:
Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) Project Baseline (PB) Fiji 2017:
Mission – Day 5 – 9
From all the great input on my last blog, Blog 2, you are now clear on our Mission, Scope, Objectives and Teams. This blog, Blog 3 will be a “Photo Essay”… let me show you what it is like during a day on GUE’s PB Fiji 2017 Mission here on board the m/y AdVantage.
First Team up is the AdVantage Crew they are up way before everyone so I want to start again with another expression of gratitude, “Thanks all for making this mission possible and working so hard day in and day out!”
So here is the day:

Sub prep

Pilot Barry making necessary checks and adjustments to “Moby” the Triton 3300 3-person sub.

ReBreather Prep

Todd Kincaid, Director of GUE’s Project Baseline preparing his JJ Closed Circuit Rebreather for the days 3-4 hour dive

Scooter Prep

Jamie Obern, GUE Diver from NZ, preparing the 4 underwater scooters that will carry the rebreather team upwards of 2 nautical miles.

Camera Prep

Martin preparing the SVS, Benthic, Diver POV and Panasonic HD cameras for the days JJCCR dive.

SeaLife DC1400

Rob Wilson of Frontline Photography and GUE diver from Tech Dive NZ supporting the camera prep with his personal system.

All this “prep” done before the 7:45am…

Morning Fiji 2017 Project Meeting

The entire cast of Teams, 17-20 people, gather to discuss the days logistics and goals; here we select the three dive sites and create the daily mission plan for each of the three mission teams and the AdVantage Crew.

Once the Morning Project Meeting is complete, each team individually break-out and conduct team specific meetings.  While this is done, the Advantage crew begins prepping the necessary tenders for the days work.

First they load in the Dive Support Boat – Rupert

The “Rupert” being loaded in with the ships monster crane; 20-Ton.  This is the primary tender for dive operations.

Next lift is the Jupiter,

The “Jupiter” a 34’ Center Console workhorse specifically used for Sub-Ops; Once the sub is loaded, the Jupiter tows the sub to the dive site.

The final “lift” in for the morning is Moby, the sub

The Triton 3300, Moby, ready for action.

So…here is what the AdVantage deck looks like before all this lifting is started:

And here is what the AdVantage deck looks like after all the load-in work has been completed:

Now please, keep this in mind…The “before” photo?  That is what the deck looks like at the end of the day!  Yes, the crew of the AdVantage puts all the tenders and the sub back on deck each night!  It is quite a sight to experience.

Time?  About 10am

While this is going on, other things are happening:

Mission Divemaster, Russel Hughes (L) works with Scientist and diver, Brian Walker (R) and Project Baselines Communications Director and GUE Diver, Amanda White (you figure it out) as they prep for the morning Science Dive.

The Sub Team is being loaded into Moby with the inwater launch crew. In the sub is the pilot and 2 science observers.

Once the Sub Team is in the sub and the safety checks are complete…The Sub is towed away by the Jupiter…

Time?  About 10am and they will return about 1pm to 4pm depending upon what they find on the bottom – a possible 3 to 6 hour dive.

Then the Rebreather team is away aboard the Rupert…

Time? 10a to 11a w/ a return around 4p to 5p: 4-hour dive plus entry and exit.

Then between the hours of 1p and 5p, the Sub Team returns and the Dive Team’s return and then begins the off-load from the tenders back to the ship (Remember the image of the ship deck?  It is empty now but she will be full in about 1 hour after the last team returns).

Then begins the on-deck clean up.  The Sub and all the Tenders are rinsed with fresh water (the ship has a reverse osmosis system that cranks out the fresh water and you cannot even tell as it is what we drink – another amazing thing about the AdVantage).  The Rebreather dive team, well we have a tremendous clean-up ahead as well…

Todd rinsing all the gear: rebreathers, scooters, suits, tow-fish (orange) etc.

Once all our gear is rinsed and sorted, then I move on to the cameras for another hour of sorting, cleaning and “chip” (you know…where we store all the images in the cameras?) organization and then…

The Daily Project Debrief Meeting

We once again reassemble on the Bridge and discuss how the day went, how to improve and what we will be doing tomorrow. 

Now it is time for dinner but you may ask, what about Breakfast and Lunch.  That happens somewhere above, when you can grab it, you do.  If you miss it, it’s in the cooler but dinner….you do not miss dinner!  On this ship, Chef Lisa is an absolutely incredible chef!  The food is gourmet and definitely “high class” restaurant quality.

However, this day is far from over.  We still have…

Tank filling: 6 sets of doubles, 4 O2 tanks, 6 singles

Data downloads by our “Media Crew” headed by Project Baseline’s Communications Director Amanda White and supported by Rob Wilson of Frontline Photography

Rob and Amanda sorting some of the 10-12 camera data cards

And while we are all organizing data, our Data Manager, Kristie Connely is gathering data from the GPS, CTD water sensor and Moby and sorting all the data we are organizing onto Project Baseline’s global database (free for all to use).

Our Data Manager, Kristie Connely, looking for the data from Moby.

Me, what am I doing after dinner?  I am also organizing data, images and materials for these fun blogs; and then creating them.  Prepping my JJ rebreather, getting camera batteries charged and chips reformatted and replaced into the proper cameras, cleaning camera housings, checking camera lights and batteries and drying my personal equipment, charging my dive light, drying my drysuit undergarments as me in a drysuit in 84-88 degree water is an absolute sweat bath inside what should be a “dry” suit, fixing broken gear and whatever else needs to be logistically done so the next day’s dive is fun, safe, memorable and Mission productive!

I sign-out on this blog by saying that each day is exhausting but fulfilling!  We are doing some great work here.  We are establishing a presence and building a tremendously professional reputation for Project Baseline and the important work that is being done Globally by all our 60 plus Global projects and we are demonstrating how we can function successfully on a ship that is normally not used for “scientific” research expeditions.

I hope you are enjoying these Fiji trip blogs and that you are sharing them with all that you love.

Next blog, probably 26 or 27 May…stay tuned!

Here are a couple of photos (Photographer:  Me) of what we get to see during our 4-hour dives…I call it “underwater sugar”!  Enjoy!