Mission Day: One, Two and Three

It has been whirlwind since I arrived in Bermuda on Tuesday at 3pm.  Arriving at the Baseline Explorer I had a “todo” list an arm’s length; that list kept going.  Working until 11pm on Tuesday we finally got to our accommodations and were up first thing Wednesday morning for another day of lists; ending that day also at 11pm. 

When doing an expedition such as the NektonMission.org, you have a tremendous amount of moving parts.  They don’t always go as smoothly as you would like but eventually they start to sync.  We are not there yet; we are close.  My biggest challenge was building the “stereo video underwater camera system” SVS for short.  The camera housings were built in Australia, shipped to Florida and I had to have a mount built so it would fit on our underwater diver propulsion vehicles.  I had a great machinist in Reno and he too the manufacturer specs and my input, he created a mount and my first task, taking me all the first day and most of the second was to take the actual housing, mate it to our mount made in Reno and then get it on the scooter ready for use.  It all worked and I was incredibly pleased. 

The next step, which was most of today, 21 July, was to actually calibrate the camera system underwater.  We had quite the time of it.  Again, the scientist that sent us the calibration instructions is in Honduras, the scientist wanting us to do the diving is here.  The software that guides the calibration, not sure where that was, probably the UK as that is where NektonMission.org is,  at but thanks to YouTube….there was a calibration video!  Once we watched that, we were off to dive.  WAiT…the submarine ops group (remember there are two 1000’ deep rated submarines on our ship the Baseline Explorer – BEx for short) wants us to calibrate their SVS camera.  Different system all together but we endeavored as we are all on the same team.   So 5 pm today, we hit the water with both SVS systems, all set-up.  It basically took the six of us divers, Susan Bird, Kevin Dow, Meredith Tanguay, Graham Blackmore, Todd Kincaid and myself in some capacity to accomplish the task and we did!  A short 70’ dive but very successful. 

It really has been about 72 hours of organization, coordination, gear assembly, equipment configuration, equipment location and modification.  No one gets to the summit in one day of a major mountain climb.  I would equate this expedition to one just like Mt. Everest (if you will allow me to use that cliché).  We are not even to base camp yet but tomorrow we will make our first foray to depth for a 300 feet/90 meter scientific research dive using the SVS camera system.   

Divers Todd Kincaid, Susan Bird and myself preparing for entry of our dive support boat, Fountain – a 39’ ChrisCraft.  The other dive team was already in the water. 

Working on aligning the cameras in the SVS underwater video system.  Note that there are two cameras mounted on either end, slightly off angle.  When the videos from both cameras are placed into a computer software program, it creates a 3D video that the scientists can use to study fish density and bottom density, coral configuration;  basically the quality of the underwater environment.  This can then be used as a “baseline” for future evaluation of the Bermuda Rise;  thus, Project “Baseline”.