Captain's Log: Joining the CCGS Sir Wilfrid LaurierAugust 23, 2012 12:54 PM
(Bill Noon, a 31-year veteran of the Canadian Coast Guard, is a captain on the icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier as it completes its 2012 Arctic mission and offers a two-week support stint to the Parks Canada-led search for the missing ships of explorer Sir John Franklin.)The Arctic Charting and Mapping Pilot Project, a project that will also assist this year's search for the lost Franklin ships, is officially underway onboard the high endurance, multi-tasking Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
The project, an innovative partnership of experts in the fields of hydrography, ice and coastal mapping, navigation, marine history and archaeology, and ocean engineering, are combining their efforts, expertise and technologies to discover the secrets hidden on the Arctic Ocean floor.
A second ship, the Martin Bergmann, will also add its support to both the sea bed mapping and underwater archaeological search.
Follow the blog, as our Captain and on-ship experts provide personal insights and clues into the whereabouts of Sir John Franklin's lost ships, the challenges of charting our waters, the critical role of navigation safety, and the advances in Canadian innovation and marine technology.
DAY 1: Aug. 23, 2012, 08:00 Mountain Time: I finally joined the ship last evening. I arrived a few weeks late from my scheduled arrival, having been relieved by the long-time serving Canadian Coast Guard Captain Norman Thomas, who came out of retirement to fill a quick staffing shortage.
The Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier used to be his ship, and I was his Chief Officer. Finding expert mariners who can step into this job on a moment's notice is not easily accomplished. Thanks Norm - as always, you leave big shoes to fill!
We are currently at anchor just offshore of the community of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, where we are awaiting our final passengers before we set off into Alexander Strait. The temperature is 8 degrees Celsius with cloudy skies, mild winds and calm seas.
As part of our work, the Canadian Coast Guard supports scientific research and sea bed mapping, and this year will be no exception. The Hydrographer-in-charge and his team from the Canadian Hydrographic Service joined our vessel in early August, and they have since mapped over 500 kilometers of the seabed using sonar surveys, and 2,000 square kilometers of the nearshore sea bed using airborne LiDAR surveys.
While at anchor, the hydrographers have gone ashore to perform tidal observations, position navigational beacons and collect GPS data from Cambridge Bay to Taloyoak.
Today, shore parties are transferring scientific equipment from the airport to the ship by helicopter and our Mark-5 zodiac. Berths are assigned, gear is stowed and passengers are getting their safety debriefs.
With our added passengers, we are at maximum capacity on the Laurier. Prior to this trip, I spent my summer helping to coordinate who would get to sail with us on this exciting voyage. This will be an invaluable trip for research and surveys, and our ship is simply not big enough to accommodate all the numerous requests this year. Sails up at 18:00.