We decided not to return to Bermuda to repair the freezer van, and to ride out the next three weeks with our fingers crossed that the system does not fail. The compressors seem to be working, but one of two fans is down which is why the temperature initially dropped. We will be very quick about entering the van for the remainder of the trip in order to keep it as cold as possible without overworking the one remaining fan. This means strapping on a headlamp and closing the freezer door behind you when loading samples (brrrrr…) while having another person outside to watch the door. The ship’s electrician and engineers are constantly monitoring the temperature and the science party has a back-up plan of where to relocate samples if the van should fail. We will install a replacement fan in Cape Verde (our final stop) to ensure that the van remains frozen as the Knorr travels back to Woods Hole for off loading in December.
The Knorr is currently steaming towards station 12, after completing station 11 early this morning. We have finished both sections within continental margins (Portugal to Cape Verde in 2010, and Woods Hole to Bermuda 2011) and are excited to finally be connecting the two by crossing open waters. We’ve had some pretty nice weather the last few days, warm and sunny. I’ve been stuck in the lab analyzing samples but sometimes I have about 20 minutes of down time where I sneak outside to catch some sun. Yesterday during one of these breaks I was lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins swimming along with the boat, I tried to snap a picture but they were too fast!