Day Fifteen: Dwindling Propane, Broken Camera

30 January 2014 (Wednesday)

Up at 0730 this morning to bright sun and news of another bald eagle. Kathy and Kerry had been watching an adult this time perch on the ying yang rocks for a bit and then take off into the sun. I hope that during one of these visits we can get a good photo. It was blowing pretty hard over night but now the winds have come down to ~ 15 kts. It has been cold but not numbing. The big indicator of temperature here for me is if I can sleep with my head outside of my sleeping bag. Last night I could.

Looking out at the seals from the house I think I see a freshly molted

Small seal seen during tower watch

Small seal seen during tower watch

gray seal pup in front of the ying yang rocks. Tanya is not sure but I’m pretty certain. I can’t help but think it is the second pup from the south side of the island that has now made it’s way into gen-pop.

Thanks to the strong light this morning I do not need to run the generator. I make coffee and check my email. There is a message from Maria Candage – the forecast for today will keep Chris on shore and instead he will need to fish on Saturday before bringing out supplies. This means that Rebecca, the grad student from UNE, will need to fish with him all morning before coming over to MDR. Should be an education! Our crew talks it over and we decide Rebecca will be fine along for the ride, so I call Chris and we make a plan. They offer to let Rebecca park at their house that morning and leave her car for two weeks. You could not ask for better people to work with.

After getting the charter plans straight we plan our next kite run. We are going to use Tanya’s small Canon PowerShot, which has a nice zoom and takes high-res 16mp pictures. It also can take these in succession when the button is kept depressed. The solution is to add rubber bands around the camera that hold a knot tied in a string down upon the button. This is the method Kathy and Kerry have been using and it works well. After breakfast and watching the winds for a while Kerry, Tanya, and I take the rig south and set it out. Kathy trails along later after setting out her slides on the foghorn platform and lower lighthouse catwalk.

Great picture of MDR buildings and boat ramp- note the seals at the top of the picture as well

Great picture of MDR buildings and boat ramp- note the seals at the top of the picture as well

The kite ascends quickly. I am manning the kite string and am really impressed with how high up we can get it. After five minutes it is about

Tanya and Chris trying to catch Tanya's camera as the wind blows it towards the rocks

Tanya and Chris trying to catch Tanya’s camera as the wind blows it towards the rocks

375 feet up, but every once in a while it dips quite low. The winds seem pretty unstable. A few minutes later and we decide to reel it in and see what we’ve got. I am bringing it in and the kite is dipping leaving the camera perilously close to the rock. Tanya is running around with hopes of catching it if necessary. For some reason Kerry grabs the string from me and starts hauling the kite instead. I move out to help catch if necessary. When the kite is low to the rocks it drops rapidly out of the sky and the camera hits the island. At first it did not seem so bad but after close inspection the camera shudder and lens covering is broken. The zoom still functions and it takes pictures, so does not seem a total loss. After searching for broken parts we retire to the house. We download pictures and the flight is a real success. Much better resolution, very nice images of the dark ocean and light rock, seals hauled out, and of the island structures. This camera must zoom out IMG_6170further than the last and it makes a big difference. We plan on adding a foam collar to the camera for the next flight, but before we get too far ahead I notice that the camera is no longer turning on and is showing a “lens error” message. I feel bad that we have sacrificed Tanya’s camera and hope we can get her a new one soon. Lesson learned. Kathy starts re-building the housing with foam and her camera installed. We will take better precaution in the future.


At 1230 Kathy and Kerry gear up and head out to collect salinity samples. Today they only get three samples from higher on the spire as the lower icicles have melted away.

At 1315 Tanya and I head up to the tower to do a tower watch and seal count. It was blowing quite hard early in the morning, enough to keep Chris Candage in the harbor. But now it’s laid down really nice and conditions are ideal for a tower watch. There are a few lobster boats in the distance, in all directions. There is also a large tanker on the

Nice lighting from the tower

Nice lighting from the tower

horizon to the west. But no whales. I come down after 40 minutes because I need to use the head and the sun has gone behind the clouds and batteries are probably getting low. I fire up the generator and go inside. 10 minutes later Tanya comes down and says “was that you?” I stare blankly. She tells us there was a really loud noise and all the seals flush. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but the only real explanation is the generator. It is surprising because the generator has been running every day, sounds the same, and the seals have been fine. Maybe it is because it has been off all morning. As it turns out Tanya was taking a lot of pictures today for a researcher at the fisheries service and can count them from there, so that is good.

A bit later we see the tanker has passed the rock to the north and is now steaming away to the northeast.

The winds never really materialize in the a way that is suitable for the kite so it stays inside for the rest of the day. I finally get around to moving the propane we originally had attached to the refrigerator to the small heater. A few days after we arrived I shut down the fridge because temperature in non-heated parts of the house are ideal for refrigeration. I move the bottle around and it seems really light. This propane is empty, even though it was not when we turned it off a week ago. Not sure what’s up, but now we only have one full propane left on the island, way too close for comfort. Things still look very good for a Saturday logistics, where we will get four more bottles. But I’m concerned that is light so I leave a message for Roger at Dead River to see if we can get two more out at the last minute.

Tanya takes her second “shower” which is now essentially pouring a bucket over your head. I still have not repaired the pump.

We have been trying to upload a video of the heavy weather day through our slow internet. It has taken five hours. It is a pretty large file at 120 mb, and we are at Mount Desert Rock, so I cannot complain too much about that.

Kathy makes a red sauce with meat over pasta for dinner. Because we do not have the living room heat to eat around we clean the dining room table of computers and huddle around the big heater.

The video uploads and the site gives all kinds of warning messages about the video being too high of a data rate. I think I’ve got a little to learn about this. I’ll scale the resolution down on the next one.

Tomorrow the seas are supposed to build, gale warning through the morning from the southwest. Then if we are lucky the weather subsides and will see the ‘Georgia Madison’ on the horizon come Saturday morning.

Bed at 2115.


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