Daily Update: Leaving Port
Wind Direction: none
Wind Speed: none
Sea State: 0
Swell(s) Height: 0 feet
Sea Temperature: 55°F 12.8°C
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 MB
Visibility: 12 nautical miles
Manhattan clam chowder
Homemade meatloaf sandwich
Spinach and cheese quiche
Frozen Snickers Bars
Baby string beans almondine
Salad bar with homemade cornbread
Chocolate mousse pie
Coconut cream pie
January 12, 2000
Atlantis left Guaymas, Mexico, at 0900 hrs (Mountain
Time) as scheduled on a bright sunny day. All 24 scientists, 9
Alvin technicians, and 23 Atlantis crewmembers are onboard and
have set up and stowed their equipment. As we sail out of the harbor,
ringed by the rugged coast mountains, pelicans swoop around the
ship looking for small fish disturbed by the ship's wake. A pilot
came on board to safely guide us out of the harbor. He then left
on a small boat that pulled alongside the ship before we headed
out for sea.
Safety is the first priority on board any ship. This afternoon,
Captain George Silva, Chief Engineer Kevin Fisk, and Expedition
Leader Pat Hickey held a meeting to welcome the scientists on board.
They explained how to work safely in all parts of the ship and
about the ship schedules, including meal times and Alvin dives.
We had our first fire and boat drill, which is required by law.
We were given instructions on where to go in an emergency, how
to abandon ship, what to do in case of a fire, and how to put on
survival suits. These suits are also known as "Gumby suits" because
they make us look like the cartoon character of the same name.
Orientation for Divers
Alvin has never had a serious accident in its 30-year
history. Still the pilots take the scientists into the sub and
teach them about safety, emergency procedures, and how to operate
the science equipment. They tell the scientists how to use the
underwater telephone to call the ship in an emergency, how to use
the emergency breathing masks, and how to release different pieces
of equipment to free the sub if it gets stuck. Because the inside
of Alvin is so small (a six-foot sphere),
the pilots try to observe whether each scientist might become claustrophobic
during a dive. Alvin pilots are used to "going to the office" on the
bottom of the ocean for about eight hours a day. But scientists who usually
spend their days in the laboratory may have difficulty adjusting to the cramped
conditions over such a long period of time.
Preparations for the First Dive!
It took us only five hours to sail from Guaymas west to the dive
site. At 1430 hrs, we arrived at the dive site at a position
of 27° 01'N latitude and
111° 25'W longitude. There we dropped three acoustic transponders, the
beeper devices that Alvin uses to navigate, onto the seafloor. There
are of course no signposts on the seafloor, so Alvin uses the transponders
to find its way around. Alvin determines its position relative to the
three transponders by listening to their beeps. This process is called triangulation.
The first science meeting was held in the Library at 1900 hrs. Craig Cary,
the chief scientist, explained the objectives of the cruise. The scientists
then spoke about their backgrounds and what they will be doing during the
Everyone is getting their sea legs. They are getting used to standing and working
on a rolling ship, although the sea is calm so far. Everyone is feeling fine
and is looking forward to getting to work and to the first Alvin dive tomorrow,
Jan. 13. The scientists are readying their laboratory equipment and are working
with the Alvin pilots and crew to get their sensors and samplers operating on Alvin . The Alvin pilots and technicians are preparing the submersible and all
of its equipment for Dive 3516. Pilot Bruce Strickrott will take scientists Craig
Cary and George Luther to the bottom of the Sea of Cortez and to the hydrothermal
vents in Guaymas Basin.