Day Five: Installing Equipment

20 January 2014 (Monday)

I was awake and checking the weather all night, slightly concerned as the Eastern Maine Shelf buoy registered 15 ft seas and the forecast climbed up to 20 foot seas from the SW. I have never been here at a time when the sea reaches the house, but I know that this time of year we need to be prepared for that. In the 1930’s there were two families living in this house. Up until the 1960’s there were was a year round coast guard presence. Those facts give me confidence that winter projects are something that can be done. However stories from those eras also give pause, as there are times when the island is awash and the only safe place is the lighthouse. This time around it is nothing to worry about as they seas crest at 15 ft and subside. We awake to large SW swell, a nice break can be seen at Columbia Ledge, a rise 1/2 nm south of MDR, where the sea bed comes up to 18 ft.

IMG_6886

Two sandpipers nestled into the rock

I am anxious to get the solar panels up so we can minimize generator use. When the wind drops below 20 kts the crew works together to get the panels set. They go in fine but I cannot find half of the hardware, so we bolt each one down half way for the short term. I then focus on building a mount for some extra panels that I want to add. There are four old 20w panels and my personal 100w panel that I want supplement the two 190w main panels.

With solar up I help Kathy and Kerry hash out a plan for mounting their weather station. Typically we use the data from the NOAA weather instruments already established at MDR, but they have been non-operational since last winter so are useless. Kathy tried in vain to have NOAA repair them but was repeatedly told there was no funding to do so. The remedy is to mount our own station during our stay. CRREL brought along a metal tower that was to be mounted on the island using masonry bolts, but the drill did not work. Kerry asks if there are any metal poles here that could be

With the solar panels in place, attention is turned to installing the weather station

used to get the station higher up on the tower. I point out the 30 ft flagpole that breaks down in two sections. We move ahead with a plan to use one 15 ft section with the anemometer mounted on top secured to an existing very robust mast on the top catwalk of the lighthouse tower. We try and move the pole up through the inside of the lighthouse but it is too long to fit. The only option is to then hoist it up along the exterior of the lighthouse using line. We wait a bit for the wind to dissipate. In the late afternoon we tie our lines and start the hoist. Kerry and I climb the lighthouse and drop a line to Tanya and Kathy. They tie our line to the pole and we pull it up without issue to the lower catwalk. The crew then moves to the upper catwalk and mounts the anemometer as I hold the pole. When that is secured I move up and we get the pole in position along the mast. I added two 8 ft 2x4s as a shim for the anemometer pole to get by a lip on the existing mast. It installs as planned and puts the anemometer above the tower turret – ideal for data capture. The only problem is that we are supposed to install the unit where a specific point on the anemometer points north, and we cannot do so because a cleat on the pole is in conflict with the mast. The solution is to aim the unit due south instead and then modify the data stram such that it subtracts 180 degrees before displaying teh corrected data.

Kathy and Kerry then move on to installing the electronics box that logs the wind speed, temperature, and pressure data. This box also contains an RF transmitter that sends the data wirelessly to computers in the main house. They also install the temperature and humidity sensor on the lighthouse railing. Once the box is installed, well after sunset, Kathy and Kerry get the RF link up and running. At first the signal does not reach the receiver in the dining room, but we move the operation to the radio room and connect. We then move back to the dining room and the connection holds. We now have all of our environmental data at our fingertips in our dining room, which is quickly becoming a makeshift lab table.

The lighthouse light is not on and I call the coast guard ANT team (Aids to Navigation) to let them know. It is a holiday (MLK Jr. Day) so we do not expect to hear back until tomorrow.

For dinner Tanya made a great beef stew and biscuits. We all crash around 2100.

-Chris

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