01 February 2014 (Saturday)
Wake up at 0400 and listen to the sea. It sounds very calm. I check the buoy and it’s down to 2.9 ft, good news for logistics. First day of February.
Up at 0600 and I find Kathy downstairs setting up the GoPro for sunrise on the south porch. The batteries are at 23.4. Kerry is still asleep on the couch but my coffee addiction trumps and I start the generator. When I come back in a slightly disheveled Kerry is at the table. That was quick. I want to get the outboard in front of the heater before our supply run and Kerry helps me roll it into the kitchen.
The ocean conditions are just what we had hoped. It is as calm as it gets for this time of year. There are at least five fisherman within view of MDR already working.
At 0700 I call the ‘Georgia Madison’ and Chris answers back. He has picked up Rebecca and is fishing east of MDR. We plan for 0930 logistics. The four of us then move ‘Delphus’ down the walkway to the ramp and set it on the dolly. There is ice under the deck of the boat and it feels heavier than usual. I open the bilge so it can drain.
There is some gear to get ready before the boat arrives. We work to get all of the empty gas cans, propane bottles, trash, and water bottles down to the ramp deck. Kathy and Kerry work
on setting up the GoPro on a 2×4 mast up the walkway behind the ramp to document the logistics run. We add a battery to the winch pack to help with amperage along with a charger. The small Honda generator runs the charger.
At 0800 I want to get the engine going. I pull the cord in the kitchen just to make sure it is not hyrdo-locked like it was a few weeks ago. It is fine. We roll it down and secure it. It starts on the third pull. Kathy and Kerry take off to set up their aluminum tower on the southwest side of the island. When the tide rises Tanya and I get ‘Delphus’ into the water. There is still a slight break coming into the cove but the tide is still low. After a set we set Delphus out and I move it to the east side against the rocks. Here I can sit and run the engine, bow out, and roll easily over any surge that comes in. At 0900 I take the boat out and circumnavigate the Rock. Under power it’s fine but it will die at idle.
At 0930 I call over to the ‘Georgia Madison’. He has 5 more strings and will come around. I ask if he can take our empty propane, gas cans, and the trash. After a bit he comes back and tells me it would be better next time. Roger at Dead River will not be happy. It told him his empties would be ready this weekend. After another minute Chris calls back to say he can take four of the six. That’s a good start.
I bring the boat onto the ramp and we haul it up to load empty propane. Chris radios over that he’s on his way and I launch the boat. As I pull up to the boat my engine dies. “I see that outboard is still running well” Chris says. Mike is on board today, and another sternman Nick, but no Matt. I tell Mike I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see his face here again. We get the empties out of the inflatable and I take all the soft gear and Rebecca to shore. The dolly system and the crew work well together. As we are unloading the gear Chris calls over that he can take the other two empty propanes. Excellent. I bring those out and grab three new propanes. I also bring out a bag of no-bake cookies for the crew that Tanya made. The propane lands fine and the electric winch has no problem pulling the whole rig up the ramp. Next time out I bring Matt’s sweatpants that he left behind. Chris asks if those were no-bake cookies we gave him and that they are his favorite. I load up the last three propane bottles and, just like that, our logistics are done.
Select images from GoPro time lapse:
Originally Kathy and Kerry were going to try to use the masonry drill while the ‘Georgia Madison’ waited and send it back off again. They decided at the last minute to just keep the drill, which I was happy about. Because Chris was fishing I really did not want to hold him up more than I had to. This way Kathy and Kerry can move the mast around the island as they see fit.
Back on shore I formally welcome Rebecca to the Rock. Is it what she expected? She thought the weather would be more rough. Not a typical introduction to MDR. We move gear up to the house. Everyone is remarking on the sea conditions, and when we are about finished Kerry wonders aloud if Kathy might want to go for a boat ride around the island to get pictures of the study site. He also notes that I have been wanting to be out on the boat whenever possible, which is true. I end up taking three boat rides around the island, first with Kathy, then Kerry and Rebecca, then Tanya. It is nice and somewhat surreal to be driving around the rock in January. Taking in the rock from this perspective Kathy and I realize we are thinking the same thing – it makes no sense that this place is here, nearly thirty miles offshore, a tiny lump of rock that’s popped up out of the ocean for us to live and work on. It still throws me for a loop and it has been 13 years since I first stepped ashore.
Post-logistics the house is chaos. Rebecca is looking for a place to stash her things, boxes and coolers are everywhere, and the radio room is a mess. I start cleaning up and get sidetracked by the wind generator that has arrived. It has been on the mainland for several years and I figured this would be a good time to get it out here as we are starved for power. Tanya and I work on setting it up. An old rusty pole makes a perfect fit for a mast. First I add some length to the DC power cables, then we bring it outside and install. I’ve read that the FlexMax charge controller does not like wind generators, and this holds true. The blades are spinning but no extra power. After reading further I realize it has it’s own charge controller and will connect direct to the batteries. A good project for tomorrow.
As the daylight fades Tanya comes along as I cast a fishing line off the north side of the island to see if anything is biting. Nothing. After seeing the bird activity I thought something might be around. It is a super low tide, the lowest in the cycle, so lots of exposed ledges and seaweed. As I approach one shelf I notice too late that an adult female gray seal is right under me. I try to stop but start slipping just as it notices. With a big huff it takes off for the water, and I’m glad I could hold myself up. Landing on a seal of that size might not end well.
Before dinner I re-wire an old light fixture in the living room to add another compact fluorescent light. We have been ripping through lamp oil, and I think it has to do with Kerry falling asleep with lamps on at night. It has happened at least twice that I’ve seen, and I suspect more often.
Tanya makes pasta and salad with chicken on the side, as Rebecca is a vegetarian. We eat in the living room again now that we have heat. I am quite fond of propane.
Exhausted tonight and very happy we pulled of mid-project logistics without a hitch.
Bed by 2115.