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Dispatch 11: Recovering a Lonely Buoy

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Peter Lourie

September 30, 2016

From the foredeck it seemed like the proverbial needle in the haystack.  I mean an ITP buoy that has been sitting in the water and ice for two years just waiting for rescue.  How would we ever find the yellow cork?

Of course the answer is GPS and specific locations recorded on a map upon deployment.  But to watch the crew standing on the foredeck casting their eyes out on the frozen ocean searching for this thing, it reminded me a little of a scene in Moby Dick.

Kirby Vatcher, the winchman, Bill Gallio, the Bosun, Trevor Hodgson, Chief Mate, Seamen Wanye Austin, and Everett Payne, along with many more crew and the buoy team from WHOI, all stood gazing out in front of us and off to either side, wanting to be the first to spot the ITP.

Thar she blows!!  Wayne Austin of Brownsdale, Newfoundland, was the first to spot it.  Jokes all round about how he’d have to buy everyone beers in the bar tonight.

Then the amazing efficiency of the recovery.  Kirby on the crane lifted Will Ostrom and Leo Rose over the side in a metal cage and down they went to ice level to latch a cable onto the buoy.  And up came the yellow cork with some of the upper instruments but the long cable to the anchor and the profiler took Will and the buoy team and the crew a bunch of hours to pull up.  It reminded me of getting your fishing line hooked on a submerged log and even with the use of the bubbler and some pulling and tugging from different directions, it didn’t come up for quite some time.  When they did finally pull the rest of the line up along with the anchor, Rick said the profiler must have dragged on the bottom somewhere in the past few years as it sat out here all alone in the Arctic, as it (the profiler that runs up and down the cable recording data) was torn from the cable leaving only the inductive modem collar on the anchor.  So alas, no data was retrieved from the profiler.

Again, I am so impressed by the crew and the scientists aboard this ship.  I wonder if Wayne bought beers on the house!

To learn more about Peter Lourie click here.

Last updated: October 7, 2019

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