18 October 2004

Howdy all,

After yet another training session this morning and then…. WE GOT TO DO SCIENCE!!!!!!!

The most entertaining training session every year is the Ski-Doo, aka snow mobile, aka snow machine, training. It is not the instructor, although he was a great guy, nor the actual subject but the age of the machines that we have down here that make is to good. They issue us two basic types of snow mobiles down here, Alps 1 and Alps 2. The only difference is the number of passengers. I am rather sure that these particular machines have been on the ice longer than I have been alive and I have no doubt they will outlive my time on this little planet. They are not necessarily indestructible, but they seem to work year after year. What this means for the training session though is it is not just, turn this, don’t flip, don’t run into any thing but instead, here is how you start it…. “two primes before the ignition is on then pull the rip cord twice, then give it more primes with the ignition on. If it is negative 40 out I find that 10 primes work good. As you bring up the idle, keep the priming button outstretched so if it gets close to dying you can give it a squirt. After it warms up feather the throttle for a few minutes, the drive around slow for five minutes to warm up the track. If you flood it, hold the throttle open for a few minutes using the electric start. If that doesn’t work pull the spark plugs by removing this cowling and pull the cord 40 times. If it still won’t start pull the fuel pump hose and blow through the top of the tank to see that……” The trouble shooting went on for another ten minutes or so.

Stacy had run off to make sure that the holes get drilled in the right place. You will probably hear more about that process tomorrow from Mike D. since he will witness it first hand then.

We then retired to our real goal of the day… diving. Jenn and myself went diving at the Jetty which is right infront of the station and one of the sites that we have over thirty years of data from. It is a great dive site because there is a man made jetty, hence the name, which provides a lot of hard substrate to certain types of critters and then a nice large soft bottom, i.e. muddy, to a different suite of animals. The plan for the dive was to go down take still pictures and mud samples for both chemistry and animals while Jenn was taking video of the seafloor and counting clam siphons which are hard to quantify with the other methods. To do this we had to put a lot of gear in the water for us to work with (i.e. a rack of cores, a quadrate to count siphons in, an underwater video camera, and an underwater still camera.) and while setting it up Bob kicked one of my dive fins down the hole. We saw it pause for a few minutes on a sub-surface lip on the ice of the dive hole and then flutter off into the depths. Since there was no current and my fins are not “light” by any stretch of the word and sink like a floaty rock I was rather sure it would be right on the seafloor beneath us. So the dive was still on. We got everything set jumped in and found that all of our gear, i.e. cameras and cores, were sitting at 20ft instead of 70ft. Jenn, with her full compliment of fins, took all the gear to the bottom so I could float down in my uni-fin style. This was wonderful of her and made the rest of our dive much easier.

Upon reaching the seafloor I put my fin on in a rush. It seemed to kick weird but not terribly so I ignored it and grabbed the camera to take pictures. I found out about ten minutes later that I had managed to put my fin on sideways. To move forward I would have to kick my one leg to the center and the other up and down. I must have been funnier looking than normal. Then the still camera ran out of batteries. This was not surprising since working at -2 degrees C is awful for camera batteries. Those that say they run for six hours at room temperature we are happy to get 45 minutes out of them in the water. The camera was acting weird in any case and there was heavy shadowing. We found out later that it was firing its internal flash as well as its external flash because it resets all of its parameters when the power is turned off. Lesson learned and fixed for future use. The cores of mud did not work that great. Since the amount of air I had left was less than the time needed to do them properly I hung out by Jenn while she finished counting siphons and we headed for the surface. Dive complete although not the greatest of successes. There are always kinks at the beginning of any sampling season. The good news is the video looked great and we learned something about the still camera. The laser sizing system that Bob worked on was awesome and that fact alone made the dive worthwhile. Tomorrow more diving.


Lets see the next day!