21 November, 2004
If your feet get cold, put a hat on...
Location: Lake Hoare
The dive missions for today: collect core samples. We gathered some Plexiglas tubes that were about two and a half feet in length. We also gathered rubber stoppers to put at each end of the tubes to hold the samples inside, and a sledge hammer to bang the tubing into the mats. The task seems quite simple; go to the bottom, drive the Plexiglas tubing into the mat, put a stopper on the top, pull the tubing out of the matt and just as the tube exits the mat, place the second stopper on the bottom of the tube trapping the core inside.
Rarely are things as easy as they sound! The trickiest part to this process was
getting the job done without excessively disturbing the mat. Anything touching the mat causes disturbances, so nothing may touch. This means holding all the items in your hands while maintaining buoyancy. In order to maintain buoyancy effectively, you must have quick and easy access to your suit valves. Perhaps an octopus would have an easy time with this job; I found it quite challenging.
I actually did fairly well with the juggling act. My troubles really began with banging the tubes into the mat. I kept chipping the edges of the tubes when I hit them with the hammer. I finally got that under control when I then tried to drive the tube into a rock that was about 12 inches below the mat. This chipped the tube on the underside! Chipped tubes don't hold rubber stoppers very well! With a little practice, I was able to successfully collect three samples. There are three more cores to get tomorrow, so now that I have a better sense of the technique, hopefully I will be a little more efficient with collecting.
The length of time it took to collect the samples today left my feet quite cold.
Due to the trouble with my dry suit hood yesterday, I decided the safest temporary fix was to remove the face seal entirely. This eliminated the possibility of having the chin strap ride up over my mouth, but it opened the door for more water to get into my hood. My head actually stayed fairly warm, however, the extent to which my feet got cold was a clear indication that my body was struggling to stay warm. It was a long dive - 45 minutes - so it is quite understandable that I would be cooling off! Hopefully I will be able to fix my hood tomorrow, which may help keep my feet warm.
We had the afternoon off, so I went on a hike up to the ice falls on the Canada glacier. It was a beautiful afternoon. I followed the edge of the glacier up and around the edge of the mountain. As I climbed up over a rise, the ice falls came into view. The jagged jumble of ice blocks told the story of the glaciers struggle to ooze its way over the drop in the terrain.
When I returned to camp, I ran the compressor to refill the dive tanks, then I took a shower. In one of the camp huts, there is a stove with a huge pot of water on it. This stove gets turned on Saturday afternoon, and by Sunday afternoon the water in the pot is piping hot. The stove also warms the room so intensely that it feels like a sauna. We take hot water from the stove and cold water from the stream and put it into a solar shower. Then we stand in a drip pan and shower! Although not luxurious, it sure feels good!
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