Day Eighteen: Quiet Island

02 February 2014 (Sunday)

Up at 0715. Batteries are not too bad at 23.8. It is a gray day, no sunlight, so I start the generator and make coffee.

While calm weather is a nice break it makes life on MDR quite boring. Most of what we’ve come here for requires high wind. Kathy and Kerry set gear out when it is a gale – 30 kts – and work from there up. It is gusting to 6 kts this morning and the forecast is under 20 for the next five days. We’ll need to find things to keep us busy. We can’t even fly the kite to take pictures.

Tanya heads up to the tower for a seal count. She documents more bloody seals and some more wounds. We are thinking more and more about shark presence here. I am going to keep my eye

More blood on the rocks seen from the tower

More blood on the rocks seen from the tower

out on the water a little more closely. With the calm seas I think we have a chance of picking out a shark fin if we are diligent.

Tanya and I focus on the wind generator. First we detach the cabling from the solar junction box. I find a loose connector and bring it in for solder. Then we move the mast and turbine to the west side of the island, near the radio room and battery array, and look for a suitable site. We don ear protection and place it on the foghorn platform. Initially this seems good, it is raised up and reasonably exposed. Then I realize the cabling to the house would also need raised up and we do not have the supplies for that. We decide to mount it very close to the house so I can focus on wiring it correctly and testing.

Seals hauled on rocks- can see a brand on seal all the way on left

Seals hauled on rocks- can see a brand on seal all the way on left

Kerry and I are also trying to tackle the weather station feed and transmission to shore. They have got a CRREL computer that will be dedicated to this and stay on the island, but it needs some IMG_7296setup. COA wants to us to use Google Drive, so I start that downloading, but it needs the browser Chrome. So first we download Chrome and then Google Drive. Several hours later we are successfully transmitting data from MDR to a common Google Drive folder that can be read anywhere. The issue is now that the COA site displaying this data does not update. I will need to talk it over with Sean Murphy tomorrow.

I finish wiring the generator but of course there is no wind, so no way to test the system. Let’s hope the forecast is wrong and things get heavier soon.

Rebecca spends the morning getting familiar with the seals. Her project is based on acoustic activity, so she approaches seal groups quietly and turn her recorder on, monitoring behavior and taking pictures throughout. Tanya shows her the sections we have drawn out for doing seal counts, and Rebecca makes some effort to document the seals with photos from the tower using her 500m lens.

I am leaving the sled dolly, winch, and boat on the ramp for the time being as you never know who might show up when the weather is good. When the forecast builds I will have the crew bring them up to the house again.

Kerry spends the afternoon messing with the new, permanent weather station computer. It is nice to have all the pieces here now. Once we are up and running we will have a two week test period before we leave the system out here to fend for itself.

I hear back from Greg Skomal who is a shark expert from Massachusetts. He thinks the wound we found could be a white shark, but it is hard to be sure with the photograph. It seems like a narrow wound but that could be attributed to healing. He suggests we continue to document these occurrences and to be in touch if anything else of interest comes by.

Checking the news I see that Phillip Seymour Hoffman has passed away today and it’s a little shocking. Such a great actor, quite a shame.

Tanya and I walk to the south side of the island to look for sharks but nothing is visible from here. It feels like looking for a needle in a haystack, but we are used to sighting basking sharks from here with regularity, so we do know what to look for. Sighting conditions are ideal right now with the calm sea state.

Sun setting over a calm sea

Sun setting over a calm sea

Tonight I win a cribbage game against Tanya.

Kathy makes spinach casserole, spanish rice, and chicken for dinner.

Bed by 2115.

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