After dragging our submarine across the Pacific ocean, and going to great lengths to repair the damage the airline inflicted, the only logical thing to do was to find somewhere to do a maiden voyage. We were able, thanks to some of our connections, to find a professor who lives out on Lamma Island. Jhave Johnston very graciously offered for us to come out for a visit and a trial run in the ocean. Now, the original plan was to go Saturday (he works during the week). However, we received an email from Jhave that the weather forecast had turned on us, and it was supposed to rain on Saturday. So, did we want to come out on Thursday instead? The decision was made to do so, which led to it’s own set of adventures.
Getting to the Island involved a cab ride, where Google maps told the cab driver to drop us off at the fish market. This was slightly wrong, in that it was congested and not where the ferries were. Finally, we found a sympathetic native who helped us find the ferry, and we were on our way! We arrived at a very small fishing town, where there was two piers, one for the ferry and one smaller one where a local was fishing. Jhave would not be able to join us till 5pm, so we went to work.
Now, nothing is ever simple, especially when you’re learning. We had gotten a cheap PC to use with the ROV, none of us wanting to risk our very expensive Macs falling in the water. Thomas had run tests before leaving to make sure it would work. It did with no problems. However, being on an island in a foreign country with shoddy internet connection created some headache, and delayed our launch. Meanwhile, Haley, our environmental science student, started her water testing (after an initial hunt on the beach for ocean glass). She took two samples, one closer to a runoff outlet, and one farther out. Of course, her preliminary results seemed to indicate that the water closer was worse than the water farther way. Though, from what Jhave said, the water in the bay probably is completely polluted in general. We’re waiting on Haley’s more official results.
Finally, we were ready to roll. Jhave had joined us. The computer was hooked up and the rover was ready for a jaunt into the ocean. Thomas drove the rover. The camera was very slow (we’re not sure if this is the computer), and the water was very very cloudy, making it virtually impossible to see anything. Finally it became clear we had a problem when the rover seemed to not be making any progress in one way or the other. I took over (I’m a bit of a more aggressive driver) and still nothing. Jennifer, our brave student diver went in after it and discovered the problem. The wire tether had gotten stuck on at least one log and one rock. She managed to get it unstuck, and we pulled our rover in.
This experience gave us a lot to think on. The rover itself did OK. It did get fairly knocked around with the waves, so we’ll definitely want to not launch it off beaches if we can avoid it. The cord sinks the minute it gets a chance, so we’re going to have to find a solution for that. And we just need in general more practice driving it with a current. The pool was very tame, and what you prepare for is never quite accurate. We also learned that pre-flight (or swim) prep is incredibly important for the future. Colleen will be put to task developing a manual and check list for everything we need to not forget or to check before leaving for the test site.
We ended the evening taking a lovely hike (paved) to the fishing village that had all the delicious seafood restaurants. It was agreed that we deserved to cap off the adventure with a good meal.
Here are some pictures from our adventure on Lamma Island.