All participants for Leg 5A arrived safely,
with some stray luggage coming the next day. We noted that our arrival in
La Paz on Easter weekend happened to coincide with John Steinbeck and Ed
Rickets coming here aboard the original Western Flyer 63 years ago.
Preparations for the Paull/Brewer leg got into full swing Saturday morning. Shipping containers were unloaded, the chemistry van was disgorged of its contents, and lab equipment was setup and tested throughout the day. Pete Braccio and Dan Chamberlain addressed computer system issues and made successful repairs. Mike Conway prepared the benthic elevators for use with the ROV Tiburon vibracoring system on this next leg. The ROV pilots went through a painstaking labor of love, carefully repairing the fiber optic cable that enters the main pressure case for the Tiburon. On the previous leg, small amounts of moisture migrated down the cable towards the pressure can, threatening to damage the main control circuitry for the vehicle. We all hope that this repair will hold for the remaining legs.
Sunday was more relaxed. The Easter Bunny
made a cameo appearance, leaving some yellow marshmallow bunnies next to
the microwave and robin eggs and jellybeans in the galley. The science
party finished setting up the labs and the testing of the Laser
Raman Spectrometer (see left). The Tiburon went through a few moonpool
By late Sunday afternoon, some of us
explored a shallow lagoon in Balandras Bay, seven kilometers north of
Pichilingue. The seafloor of the lagoon was covered with foraminferal
sands. A variety of small benthic creatures were found crawling or
burrowing into the sand. While wading through the water, we experienced,
first-hand, fragments of jellies, which were capable of inflicting painful
stings despite not being part of a whole animal. The water in the lagoon
was a brilliant azure, and the swimming was pleasant. Brown pelicans were
plentiful along the narrow, winding, coast road between the Los Arcos
Hotel in La Paz and the pier at Pichilingue. Many were sunning themselves
on the gunnels of wooden boats moored or pulled up onto the beach. The
coast road cuts through a dramatic landscape of tertiary ashflow tuffs and
volcanic breccias. Varieties of cholla and cordon cacti are scattered
across the washes. So far the mountain-bikers on our crew have
successfully evaded the infamous "jumping" cholla, so feared in
these parts for their stealth-like agility in finding human legs.
We set sail tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., heading
for the transform fault north of Guaymas Basin. This will be about a
24-hour steam north, and preparations will continue throughout the day. We
expect to make our first dive Tuesday morning.
Rumor has it that ROV Pilot Paul
Tucker has a trained pink flamingo that chases the guard dogs on the
pier. The elusive creature has been spotted, but its true talents have not
Enthusiasm is running high, and everyone is
in good spirits, anticipating the adventures that lie ahead of us for the
next 11 days.
White is hard at work with