Underwater At Last

Can you believe that we were in Hawaii for 25 days before donning a scuba tank?  We sure can’t!  The time has flown by with the odds and ends of becoming settled in a new place (or series of places, as is the case for us) and preparing for the research expedition.

Friendly turtles buzzed our dive site all day

Science Diving!

We spent two days testing most of Simon’s acoustic equipment (the stuff we didn’t test just hangs off the ship).  We packed it all in the car and planned to do a series of shore dives.  The “basic” steps were:

The SeaHawk 300 with the fly-by array and our scuba gear. Ready for deployment.
  1. Pick a good spot (we chose Three Tables on the North Shore of Oahu)
  2. Suss it out and decide where we will dive.
  3. Assemble our scuba gear, inflate our trusty Sea Hawk 300 raft, pull out and assemble the sand anchors and small hydrophones.
  4. Get all of that stuff to the beach
  5. Load everything into the Sea Hawk on the beach and pull it through the surf.
  6. Surface swim to our planned site.
  7. Tie off all of the equipment to ourselves or hold on to it, and descend

    Simon bringing the trusty Seahawk to the beach
  8. Insert sand anchors and attach small hydrophones to sand anchors.
  9. Swim back to shore with the empty Sea Hawk
  10. Take turns exiting the water and pulling the Sea Hawk out

    Simon tying one of the smaller hydrophones to a sand anchor.
  11. Exchange dive tanks and unload the array (that’s the big thing that comes in three 50 pound pieces)

    Lauren and friend.
  12. Lauren dons dive gear and walks to beach with boat.  Simon follows with the array piece by piece, assembles it on the raft and finally puts on his dive gear and joins her.
  13. Pull it all through the surf and swim back to the dive site.
  14. Get the array out of the seahawk…easier said than done when you’re swimming next to it.
  15. Descend with a line attached to the array, which loops through a sand anchor so that we can pull it down underwater (the array is buoyant).

    Towing the Seahawk back to shore
  16. Secure the floaty end of the array to sand anchors and line up the hydrophones in a nice pattern so that beamforming and cross-correlation of acoustic arrivals can show us which direction the various sounds being recorded are coming from.
  17. Return to shore

    The fly-by array deployed on the bottom in a line configuration.
  18. Rinse everything off, including us
  19. Eat shave ice

On the second day, we did the same list in reverse (except the shave ice, which always comes at the end).  I am happy to report that we successfully achieved all of the steps, nothing flooded, we in fact recorded data, and that no one stole our equipment while it was left out overnight.

Lauren working hard on driving in a sand anchor.

Steps 4-6, 10, 12 and 13 were far more challenging than they sound (and than we originally thought!)  The learning curve is steep, so we hope we are already past the hardest part!  We quickly learned the pro tip that parking near the beach was an absolute must. Simon regrets spending two hours walking back and forth between car and beach, carrying heavy stuff in the tropical climate with half a wetsuit on. Never again.

Simon faffing around with his kit.

On the ship we will be operating from a small boat.  This will be extremely luxurious because it eliminates all of the parts where we have to carry heavy things across a beach and drag a small inflatable boat through the surf!  The underwater methods will be the same, so the photos here are representative of what we’ll be doing for the next month.

Happy Birthday Simon!

Simon turned 29 for the second time on Sunday, and we enjoyed our last free day on land by going for a series of easy hikes and walks around the Waimea Arboretum.  Lauren arranged a scavenger hunt variation for Simon’s gift, which included favorite activities like hiking, waterfall swimming, shabu-shabu dinner, and of course, shave ice!

Shabu Shabu dinner!
Amazing ginger plant flowers at the Waimea arboretum.
Lauren and Simon on Simon’s birthday hike.
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2 thoughts on “Underwater At Last”

  1. That sounds like a lot of work!! I think you need more hands, I would be happy to come help 🙂 JK. It really does sound like you guys are earning your keep though.

    Happy Birthday Simon!

    Miss you guys 🙂

    Like

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