Day Three: Research Begins

18 January 2014 (Saturday)

The ‘Georgia Madison’ was to arrive about three hours before high tide, or 0930, so we were up and about by 0730. Tanya made a bunch of oatmeal with milk, syrup, and brown sugar. I made up three cups of coffee with the remaining instant. The boys said they slept OK, except Matt had woken up 20-25 times, and Mike maybe five or six. They ate up the oatmeal and we got ready. At some point the boys took a stroll around the island and found another gray seal pup to the south.

Stern of the "Georgia Madison" stocked with CRREL gear

Stern of the “Georgia Madison” stocked with CRREL gear

The weather was quite nice, a definite improvement over the day before. I still was not sure if Tanya and I were leaving so I kept out the CRREL personal gear and our small cache of items just in case. When Chris eventually called around 0920, he told us Dan and Tom were back again, as well as the CRREL folks, and they were ready to do full logistics. I was still a little shell shocked from the previous day, but the sea state was OK and it was warm again. We made a plan to get the boys off the island asap to be safe. ‘Georgia Madison’ arrived and I could see Dan jump down into the inflatable, Delphus this time. I also noticed he had picked up the very finicky Yamaha 20 four stroke, also from the same repair shop, which really does not like cold weather. After 15 minutes or so the boys started to get nervous – why was Dan not on his way in yet? I was sure Dan was just warming up that engine and told them so. Finally they came in and landed, and as they did Tom says “anyone call a cab”? I haven’t been so happy to see anyone for a long time.

Dan agreed to run logistics, which was good because I was still a bit gun-shy. It was getting a little sloppier in the cove as the tide rose, and Dan was fighting the entire time keep the outboard going, but we forged ahead. It was still reasonably warm which is a huge benefit. After the first landing we sent Dan and Tom back out again and realized that the boys were still on the island. Whoops. But they actually agreed to stick around to help move gear for a few more runs, which was incredibly noble considering the trials of the last day. A few more runs and we switched out the boys with the CRREL crew and finished up. On the last run I ran Dan and Tom back out again, shook Chris’ hand and thanked him, thanked the boys, and made my way back in. I landed and, for the time being, the incredible ordeal was over, and I was very thankful. Tanya, Kathy, Kerry, and myself hauled ‘Delphus’ up the ramp, and then I nearly collapsed down on the ramp in relief. I made one last call to the ‘Georgia Madison’ to thank them again, and then we all sat and talked on ramp for a long time. It was a very great feeling to have finally made it to MDR in one piece and to begin the research season that was in question a day earlier.


After some time Tanya suggested we start moving gear up to the house as rain seemed to be moving in and we were losing light. We made some room in the classroom for the CRREL equipment to be laid out. Tanya and I removed more boards from the house to let in more light. I started up our new internet card to test connectivity and was happy to find it working very well. I told Kerry about the propane heater issue and he jumped right in to help. The heater kept shutting off and blinking 61, which I thought was room temperature. Tanya piped in that it was an error code, and sure enough it was. The code related to a combustion fan failure, and Kerry seemed very motivated to track the issue down. I found some information on line with some suggestions, and Kerry manually

Second gray seal pup on the island- already partially molted

Second gray seal pup on the island- already partially molted

spun the fan, freeing it up. After some tests it fired up and is working well. The other appliances – fridge, freezer – are also working OK. The batteries are quite low and the small Honda generator does not keep up with the influx of laptops and other equipment, so Tanya and I rolled the big gas generator outside. It started on the second pull. I hope to get the solar panels out in the next day but the winds are forecast to be very high and I do not want to walk around the island as the panels will act as sails.

One of our food totes was swamped with sea water upon arrival at MDR. I cannot remember but it must have been part of the cache coming in when we lost the boat. As it happens our entire supply of sugar is now waterlogged. As a remedy Tanya and Kathy decide to put it in the oven at a very low temperature to try and dry it out. Either way the salt will be left behind, so we will have salty sugar for the rest of the project. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade – or in this case lemon bars. Kathy decided to make a huge batch of the best lemon bars I’ve ever tasted using some of the compromised sugar.

Kerry and Kathy bring their small aluminum weather station tower to south side to install in the rock. They try to drill but the battery in the masonry drill is too low to make any progress into the granite. They leave the tower and bring the battery inside to charge. After dinner we try again with headlamps and flashlights but the battery is still dead. We will need to come up with another solution as it seems this setup is non-functional.

For dinner Tanya made enchiladas, excellent as always. The CRREL laptops and other gear are scattered on the dining room table, so we opt for eating in the living room, which is clear. Bed at 2100.


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