Preparations, and a Long, Rough Trek 300 Miles Offshore
On September 6, an international team of researchers came together from NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Fisheries & Oceans Canada. We boarded the Canadian Coast Guard vessel John P. Tully in Sidney, British Columbia. The Tully is a 226-foot vessel that supports both research and search-and-rescue missions. She was built in 1984 and on this survey, she is staffed with nine officers, 15 crew, and our science party of nine for a total of 33 onboard.
Our first objective upon boarding the vessel was to take a COVID test. You can see us all here with our heads down on the timers!
Once negative, we were allowed to bring our gear onboard, and the remainder of the day was dedicated to setting up and testing equipment to be used on this 14-day expedition. And it’s a good thing we did. The team found a broken pin on one of the connectors to the underwater stereo camera, which is the main tool for this survey. The fix required cutting the cable and soldering on a new connector. Since this cable routinely goes down to about 1,000 meters (more than half a mile), this is no small task. After the cable is spliced, it needs to be waterproofed with a thick casing made out of epoxy, and that casing needed to cure for 24 hours.
After everything was ship shape, we departed Sidney midday on Tuesday, September 7, and headed south down Haro Strait and out toward the Pacific Ocean.
As we turned the corner into the Strait de Juan de Fuca, we noticed the seas pick up from the flat calm protected waters behind us, and enjoyed a beautiful moonrise and sunset looking south toward Olympic National Park in Washington.
As we hit the open ocean, the seas got bigger. Ahead of us was a 40-hour transit to Eickelberg Seamount. Rocking all the way over 10-foot seas and into 40-knot winds, the journey was rough, and we had to secure everything for the adventurous ride. Enjoy the photos below (including a chance sighting of an ocean sunfish (Mola mola)), and tune back in for the next update to learn more about the science mission and what we find at Eickelberg and Warwick seamounts.