Thursday, 14 December 2017

Dive Day Agenda

adelomelon ancilla snail (150 mm)
We got up early yesterday … I got up to write a few emails as time at the prime computer is limited. Its major uses are as a moving map for navigation and to track weather information. Since we don't have internet down here (no-one else does either - unless they're fabulously wealthy!) we usually only send and receive emails once a day. I was quite surprised when the Captain emerged at 5:30 - just as it got light. He looked around a bit and said "we'll have to move the boat closer to the divesite". So I got my coffee, prepared my hot water bottle, got on my 'oilies' (weather-proof oilskin pants), wool hat and mitts and I waited for my jobs to begin. To start the main engine these days, we have to run the generator for a while because the alternator is broken and can't be fixed until we get parts ordered to Valdivia (in January). Soon I heard the roar of the generator being answered by the roar of the main engine. Out I went to lift the anchor - the washdown pump had been turned on and the control to activate the anchor windlass (which pulls up the anchor chain) was also ready. But I'd forgotten that first we had to get the inflatable dinghy (stored on top of the deck) in the water.

So I did that job. I turned the crank and the halyard rope lifted the dinghy over the side and we dropped it in the water. Then I hauled in the anchor, spraying the chain and watched the captain get rid of all the kelp gathered on the chain and anchor. Next we cruised around looking for the perfect spot really near the rocks but not so close as to hit them. When he found the perfect spot, he estimated a distance perpendicular to where the boat should end up, and he had me start dropping the anchor about 300 feet from the shore - I called out the distances the anchor had run out and when he gauged we were close but not TOO close to the rocks, he told me to stop. He left the engine in reverse tugging against the anchor chain, I ran to the back and he got in the dinghy with one of the two long ropes we have coiled onto spindles attached to the back of the boat. He rowed the dinghy to the shore, clambered up through the slippery rocks, circled the rope around a sturdy tree trunk, carried a long rope end back to the dinghy and tied the end in a knot which would hang out over the water once I tightened the remaining rope at my end. I tightened it by pulling in the slack using another winch at the back of the boat. Meanwhile he came back to the boat, got the other long rope and attached that to a companion tree triangulated from the back of the boat. These two triangulated lines angled from the anchor would keep the boat in a secure position once they were both tightened.

We did all of that in short order. Now we had ropes ashore leading to a prime rocky location for us to do our dive.
I started to get my dive gear on. Unfortunately, when the Captain turned the key the main engine wouldn't turn off. My first thought was "why don't we just turn off the fuel?"; but diesel engines - once starved of fuel - are very reluctant to start again. Many thoughts raced through our minds as the engine labored on and on - we remembered that we couldn't even order parts until we got hi-speed internet. If we ran out of fuel here in the wilderness, it might take weeks before someone could get to us. What if we had to leave the boat there … etc etc. Anyway, after searching the engine manual for a period of time, the Captain discovered an alternative way to turn it off which he'll use until we get to Valdivia and he gets the spare parts needed NOW for both the alternator and the engine.

We proceeded to get our dive gear on - with him assisting me to get the tank on in the water. I was finally going to get some exercise myself after watching him do most of the work! We set off to the nearby rocks and had one of the best dives in Patagonia that we have ever had. After that, because of the storm forecast for today, we had to untie all the lines, haul the dinghy up on deck and pick up the anchor to move the boat - a 5-hour trip - to our new location here at Isla Amita.

Now all I have to do is edit and identify the animals in the 108 photos Larry took yesterday, to write our photo-logs and to start assembling the data about what we've seen in our three dives at the Pozo Delfin divesite (February 2007 September 26 2017 and yesterday). Tomorrow we'll dive again here at Isla Amita.

At 2017-12-14 00:44 (utc) our position was 44°05.06'S 073°53.22'W

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