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Captain's Log: Going full out as the time flies by

September 11, 2012 11:51 AM
(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.)

Day 18 Sept. 9, 2012, 2235h

With only two days left, the focus today shifted to identifying which objectives would be given priority in the day's operations.

To add to the pressure, the helicopter's 100-hour inspection is quickly coming due and I need to reserve some of its remaining time for any unforeseen operations that might arise.

We've been very fortunate that we haven't been called away during these past two weeks, as a search and rescue tasking is a top priority for the coast guard, and would have taken precedence over our current mission. 

Today's weather forecast had reported morning winds of 15 knots, with weather models predicting an additional five to 10 knots within hours.

With that, the AUV operations were grounded for the morning. The Gannet and Kinglett were launched by 0730 to finish off the final survey work in Alex Block South.

The Martin Bergmann had an even earlier start. Priority for the helicopter was given to the hydrographic work to conduct water observations at Racon Island, followed by the dismantling of the M'Clintock GPS reference stations.

You cannot produce a chart without good tidal information, so this work is very important.

We moved the Laurier northward and dispatched the 733 zodiac to retrieve one of the Canadian Hydrographic Service's water level gauges at Admiralty Island.

Similar to the Sea Spider (see Day 2), this mooring releases its buoy using an acoustic (sound) signal, which worked on the first try. The plan to use the zodiac to transport the hydrographers to Racon Island for their final water observations was replaced by the helicopter suddenly when fresh bear tracks in the area were reported.

We were back at home base in Alexandra Strait by mid-afternoon, and conditions were tame enough to allow the AUV team to spend several hours out collecting data.

Not having the chance to get back to land today, Doug and Robert spent their time carefully itemizing the new finds, cataloging photographs and writing up the information.

Environment Canada's team also spent the day reviewing video and preparing for a final flight, hopefully tomorrow. 

All of the boats continued their surveys until late into the evening. The time is just flying now.
 
We were going full out today, with every resource stretched to the maximum. 

Like the previous dozens of expeditions before us, we just want that one last chance to find something.

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