WG out to sea...finally! AUV ops and another visit

18 May 2014

WG out to sea...finally! AUV ops and another visit

Artur on the deck of Cobecho Primero with the WaveGlider Hermes heading out of the Olhão channel.
An early morning inventory count on shore for all tools needed for a WaveGlider launch (and possible recovery). From left Artur, Kanna and João Pereira.
Transferring the WaveGlider to the Cobecho from the Diplodus.
Cobecho heading out of the Olhão channel.
...where it encountered rough waves at the intersection of the outflow and the sea.
A wet vehicle in the aft deck.
Artur and Kanna tracking the position of the vessel with the desired waypoints negotiated with Liquid Robotics.
Coordinating with the skipper on launch details of the WaveGlider.
Getting ready to launch the WaveGlider Hermes in the Gulf of Cadiz. At last!
Francisco, Artur and João Pereira launching the vehicles with the crane operated by the skipper from the swinging deck of the Cobecho Primero.
And away it goes...
Pedro Graça of the Univ. of Lisbon visits. Frederic explains Neptus to him and Tiago Martins.
Kanna walks the visitors thru the outreach and web site.
Meanwhile their film crew gets active. This is for a documentary about ongoing ocean related activities in Portugal.
João Pereira showing the film crew our X8s and the Seacon.
..while Fortuna and Joel prepare for the next day.
...and while Javier and Francesco continue to tweak their model.
Tiago and Artur in the patio discussing details of the experiment.
João and Kanna waiting at the dock for the interview with Pedro to begin.
Getting set up for the interview with the Diplodus as a backdrop.

The news from the previous day was that we had found two good vessels to go out on; specifically one with a solid crane capable of lifting and taking the WaveGlider out to sea. The other a smaller boat apt for launching and recovering an AUV from. Recall this was to be after a brief hiatus being grounded by weather and lack of vessels to work off of.

Sunday morning at 4.30am a group left to deploy the WaveGlider. Getting to Olhão, at the docks, the despondent Diplodus still stuck, we picked up tools from the IPMA warehouse and waited for the vessel that was to take us out. At precisely the time we had agreed on the Cobecho Primero sailed in, swung around. With a crew of two, skipper included, the no-nonsense Portuguese style of maritime business took root. The aft of the vessel was wedged between two others, Diplodus included, the crane was quickly deployed and with Artur in command, we winched the forlorn Hermes WaveGlider onto a new deck. In another 10 minutes, we were not just clear, but off the dock and sailing into the Olhao channel. In another 45 minutes, we were on station. The skipper looked around and suggested a further 2 Nm deployment given nets and fishing gear, so off we went futher off-shore. Artur and Kanna in constant communication with the folks in Liquid Robotics, back in Sunnyvale, California. A brief stop, the skipper at the crane, Francisco and João Pereira, guided by Artur swung Hermes out to the open sea, Artur pulled the latch binding the float to the glider releasing the propulsion mechanism and off went Hermes! At last.

Here was the plan we had formulated for that day for the WaveGlider launch:

  • 4.50am: JP drives MF to Faro airport with AZ, KR, FLo. From airport, he drops off WG crew at Olhão docks.
  • 6.15am: JG drops off WG crew at Olhão docks & returns to farm house by 7am.
  • 8.00am: WG transfer from IPMA vessel to WG deployment vessel (http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/search.php?search_title=Cobecho%20Pr...) complete
  • 9.15am: WG crew arrive at WG deployment station off of mouth of Olhao channel in open waters at 10m isobath as agreed with LRI
  • 9.45am: WG deployment begins after all checks
  • 11.30am: Full WG deployment finishes; WG crew starts return to Olhão docks
  • 1.00pm: WG crew back at farm house and augments JG for comms with both UAV and AUV crews offshore
  • 8.30am WG launched cleanly
  • 9.15am WG crew back at the docks

Efficiency when it comes to working with professional Portuguese mariners!

Meanwhile the tagging team were at the tuna pen to try to tag and potentially retrieve some Mola's to augment the 'backups' we had in the tank on shore. Not surprisingly, a number of Mola's were not doing well given they were trapped in the nets without someone having to release them. So no tagging.

Equally, the UAV team managed a few flight tests with an X8 (04) that hadn't yet flown. Few flights later, they had to return to the farm house with wind picking up. 

The AUV team which went out got a bit luckier. Not only were they out in a smaller (rented) boat which could go at a clip, they managed to deploy, and not having a Mola to track, managed to do surveys (500m X 500m and a 1km X 1km) around the moving WaveGlider. More importantly, they visually recognized a thermal gradient and managed to get their vehicle to cross it, just after the WaveGlider had, allowing for cross co-related measurements of the water column. This was good work on their part! 

Jobs done, people started trickling in at the farm house. Including a visitor from Lisbon. Prof. Pedro Graça of the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas in Lisbon. Pedro is a Social Scientist and working to understand science policy with regard to the oceans. João and Kanna had recently contributed to a monograph edited by him on policies and strategies for Portugal. He had come to interview the two for a small documentary and was keen to understand how field experimentation of the kind we were running, work and what kinds of impact they could be expected to have. He was shown around the farm house and the 'toys' we had there. And then Pedro and Kanna joined the just returning João from sea at Olhão for a video shoot and some pictures that took a while (thanks to ship metal getting in the way of wireless microphones).

End of the day came with, the arrival of our last member, Frederik Leira from Norway and what else but good Portuguese food? That was followed by an early (i.e. 11.30pm) transit to bed.