7/8 August 2012:
Two days of CTD sections. We actually need to work on the weather stations as well: there is a weather station on Cape Baird that needs to be dismantled and relocated to Joe Island on the other side of Nares Strait. Access to a weather station, however, requires a helicopter and the weather has changed from its lovely sunny side to a cloudy and windy variety. There is either far too much wind for the helicopter to fly, or it is foggy and then we can’t fly either. The main activities are therefore centered around taking CTD profiles, which, by the lack of other activities and the need for a deck crew for the rosette system, is now a daytime activity. We take one section just south of Petermann Fjord, and one further north in Robeson Channel. The latter section is extra nice because this part of Nares Strait was often too much ice covered to access for taking measurements in previous years.
In the late afternoon of 8 August the FRC (the small boat) is sent out into Discovery Bay to try and recover a tide gauge pressure mooring that had been there since 2003. In that year, a diver from the American ship ‘Healy’ installed this mooring. In 2006, when the first next ship for scientific purposes came up here, the bay could not be reached because of heavy ice conditions. In 2007, during the expedition thereafter, the science crew flew to the bay by helicopter and successfully talked to the mooring and released it, but it has never come to the surface. In 2009, on the third expedition after deployment, heavy ice conditions again inhibited access to the bay. Now, in 2012, we decided to take the absolute longest of long shots in trying and recover this mooring (if the bay would not be frozen over) using a sinking line and try and ‘catch’ the mooring. As we knew the exact location, it was at least worth trying. So, the FRC was sent into Discovery Bay and came back later that evening, to everyone’s astonishment, with the mooring on board that had been happily recording data for the full nine years it had been there in the water! (In an attempt to be creative I naively inquired whether it would be an option to land the FRC on the beach below Cape Baird and walk to the weather station. Given the steep slope and significant height of the plateau, this idea was quickly discarded.) The success with the Discovery Bay mooring was later celebrated at the bar.