Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baskets Hanging From the Beaks of Cranes

At 0700 I woke to shipping containers and cranes passing by the window. After breakfast, the ship was tied up to the pier at Snug Harbor. Equipment had been eagerly waiting in the staging bay since the night before to be unloaded. Within fifteen minutes of the ship’s halt, cranes were swinging back and forth.

I donned my hard hat and skipped down the gangway to land – land that is firm and does not tilt in unexpected ways. I was so wrapped up in my hardhat activities that I didn’t notice the atrophy of my sea legs into regular old land legs. I spend the morning on the dock with Jefrey, on the back of the flatbed truck waiting for metal baskets of equipment to come swinging off the stern to land.
The boxes were full of the computers that had covered a whole wall of the lab, left over zip ties that didn’t get the chance to secure anything, rolls of electrical tape, whip cream canisters of compressed air for cleaning electronics, pens, pencils and plenty of scrap paper for early watch doodling, wrenches, screwdrivers, titanium hardware, the drill for making loud noises and tightening screws with enthusiasm, iridium cables coaxed into coils and Velcro-ed tightly to eliminate escape, the cameras for daily documentation, the deceivingly light boxes which once held instruments that are now at on the seafloor, the lines to hold the boxes in place in the event of a particularly deep roll to starboard, the WHOTS instruments and battery packs all prepped for the cruise ahead.  These things will all have to find a new home and a new life.

The flatbed truck had seemed twice as big as the benches under which we stored all of this equipment. Despite Jefrey’s spatial consolidation, the capacity of the flatbed rapidly decreased until there was barely enough room for me to sit on the edge to wait for the next load to come over. Just when it seemed like everything that could have possibly fit in the lab had been passed over, the crane’s neck lifted and at the end of its beak hung another basket full of goodies. Like Mary Poppins, Jefrey managed to rearrange things to make room for 3 more computers, ‘mini Makaha’ – two boxes filled with wires and cables meant to simulate those of Makaha, – a lamp, a rocking chair and a flying umbrella. The crane delivered one more basket, which even Mary Poppins would have refused, so its contents will wait at Snug for another day.

Towering over the forest green crane that brought us our baskets – even towering over the KM – was a yellow and black crane that dealt with the heavy machinery worth many M&M’s. Without trying to imply that Jason is overweight, he does require a bit more attention in hoisting.  To protect his backside from swinging into the ship or the doghouse or the flatbed, sailors stood by with tag lines directing his backside to safety. The control van, which is actually two separate vans connected together, was next. The vans were hoisted off one by one so as it swung you could see through the open side into the seats Deb and I used to occupy like a view into a dollhouse.  

Later, Jefrey, Bruce and I took the truck back to the University where every box found its place on top of a bench or on top of one another.  Some people stayed on the ship to tidy and mop the areas we had inhabited over the last 18 days. We reconvened in the evening, at the generosity of Roger, at a restaurant on the water where Pufferfish lamps and strings of colored lights hung from the ceiling to celebrate land, sea and the last shots fired in the troubleshooting battle at the bottom of the ocean in favor of the good guys– and real time data from 5 km below the surface. 

1 comment:

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