No going back
The big day today: sailing at 2pm, no going back, if we've forgotten anything then that's it. In the morning we bought pretty much all the cup noodles, crisps, chocolate, beer and plum wine we could fit into our bags and went for our last lunch on land. Everyone seems to be a bit apprehensive about seasickness but the weathers looking good so hopefully they're all ok (last time we went straight into a typhoon!). We visited the Tokyo fish market to pick up the mackerel bait for the landers. The fish market is fascinating but we got what we needed and headed back to Harumi harbour and eventually set sail. We sailed south out of Tokyo bay and swung east towards the Japan Trench were the guys from the Earthquake Research Institute began an airgun seismic transect, BOOM, every 60 seconds for the next few days...
Our target depth is 7000m in the southern sector of the Japan Trench.
There are a lot of peculiar things about this vessel that I have forgotten about. For example, the water cooler sings to you when the tap is on, the showers are communal and you have to sit down, when it's meal time they sound chimes (oh boy do the Japanese love their chimes) and the pillows are full of small plastic tubes?! Smell is a funny thing, as soon as I stepped on board the smell just brings back the feeling of the boredom and hunger of last year. Stepping into the mess and smelling the food actually made me feel sick. Toyo was struggling also and he's Japanese so I don't feel too bad about not liking it.
We weren't allowed on deck today as they were setting up the airguns so there really wasn't much to do except sit around but generally spirits are high within the group. These experiences are what you make them I guess. I also have with me a book of teach yourself card tricks, an iPod full of The Wildhearts, my trusty overalls, little bendy, my buddy Toyo, the coolest lander ever built and a superhuman ability to kill time doing absolutely nothing, so what can possibly go wrong?
We only got one deployment of the video lander last time but it was probably the best data we have got yet.
Despite sounding a bit negative here I am very excited about the science we're doing. I think this Hadal stuff is really fascinating and worth putting yourself in a not-so-nice place for a while. We only got one deployment of the video lander last time but it was probably the best data we have got yet. This time it looks like we are getting all three landers in the water; the video lander, the stills lander and the fish trap (if I ever finish building it). Our target depth is 7000m in the southern sector of the Japan Trench. We were told this morning that we will not be deploying until the 1st of October, which is fine with me, I suppose it gives us a lot of time to prepare things. Unfortunately, due to the ship schedule we will not recover them until early morning October 5th, one day before docking in Shiogama, this will really put the pressure on to get everything downloaded/backed-up, pack-up the lab and strip down the landers, but hey, I'm confident we can do it; Japaneasy peasy.
Alan's Hadal 'fact of the day'
Back in the day, the Hadal-Zone used to be called 'Ultra-Abyssal' but given how unique it appears it isn't an extension of the hadal-zone and later changed to Hadal. Hadal is derived from Hades, the 'kingdom of the dead', or 'underworld' from ancient Greek. Hades is both the name of this place and the God who looked after it. Although I might be wrong here, I believe Hades and Hell were two different places and both get a mention in properly translated Bibles. Hades was actually on Earth but very close to the centre of the Earth, which is, what I guess inspired them to name the trenches so. I read somewhere that some Russians placed a microphone down to the bottom of the deepest mine shaft in Russia and actually recorded the screams of the lost souls in Hades. Crickey, all we got was a bunch of amphipods and some mud but then we didn't have a microphone.
Posted on 25 September 2008
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