22 February 1999
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research - NIWA
Greta Point, Wellington, New Zealand

A Yellow Submarine - container

There was a distinct sense of excitement that I felt this morning. Today was going to be the first time that I would get to visit the ship that was to be the base for our expedition, the NIWA Research Vessel Kaharoa. Although I had seen photographs of the ship and read all about her capabilities, there is nothing quite like actually stepping on board a ship, and walking the decks to put everything into perspective. Until my arrival here in New Zealand, so many of the key aspects of this expedition had just been words or pictures -- the Deep Rover, the Kaharoa and of course, the giant squid. Over the past few days it is probably safe to say that I have seen, touched, lifted and scrubbed my body clean of more giant squid than most people in the entire world. Now it was time to head over to King's Wharf and see the ship and wait for the Deep Rover to be delivered.

Upon our arrival at the wharf, I was struck by the colors of the ships that were tied up alongside one of the long piers. The white topsides of the Kaharoa sparkled in the early morning sun, while the bright red tugboats behind looked like they belonged in a child's bathtub rather than out on the ocean. Color seems to play a very important role here in New Zealand as I have mentioned earlier in regards to some of the buildings around town. On our way to the wharf this morning, we passed a few more architectural gems that I hope to be able to get back to and catch on film.

Pulling up alongside the Kaharoa we saw a very large flatbed truck parked on the pier with two enormous yellow and white boxes that we immediately knew contained the Deep Rover and its support gear. Yes, it looked like things were really beginning to come together. The skipper of the Kaharoa, Evan Solly, met with the folks in charge of the Deep Rover to decide how best to get the crates off the truck and on to the dock and then how to best place all the equipment on the ship. Clyde and Ian, one of the Deep Rover support personnel, also spent some time discussing the proposed operations plan since this was the first time that they had the chance to speak with each other face to face.

The skipper jumped up onto the dock and measured the boxes and then jumped back onto the ship and marked out where one of the boxes was going to be placed. Generally, both boxes are carried along on board the ship on an expedition such as this, but for a number of reasons it was decided to place the Deep Rover directly on the deck of the ship under the large A-frame on the stern and use the other box as a storage and work area. One thing that came as a surprise to everyone, well maybe just to me, was that some of the Kaharoa's superstructure was in the way of the box, therefore preventing it from being able to fix on the deck.

To my surprise, the solution was to simply cut off the entire railing and support structure. What was even more interesting was that they were quickly painting the railing BEFORE they were going to cut it off and move it ashore. Before you knew it, sparks were flying, winches were humming and the railing was hoisted off the ship and onto the dock to be reattached at a later time. Talk about people with a "can do" attitude!

Pretty soon, a large yellow crane lumbered its way down the wharf and came to rest alongside the Kaharoa. In less time than it takes some people to tie their shoes, the crane operator had hoisted both boxes off the truck and gently placed them side by side on the dock. Since the boxes were securely padlocked, and since the keys to the locks were not on hand, we were just going to have to wait until tomorrow to get our first peek at the vehicle that would be taking Clyde to the depths of Kaikoura Canyon. I kept thinking of what it must be like for a child to see all those wrapped presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, knowing full well that they couldn't be unwrapped until the next morning.

The afternoon was spent in a very productive logistical planning meeting in which most of the participants in the expedition got together in the same room and went through each aspect of the next few weeks, step by step. Many issues that had been unclear before were ironed out and I began to get a sense of the larger picture that until this time had eluded me.

The discussions continued later that evening when the film crew and Smithsonian folks all went out to dinner together and had a chance to talk about things other than work. When people are going to be working in very close quarters for many hours each day, getting to know the other side of your colleagues, the non-professional side, is very important..... .....particularly when those close quarters are on board a ship out in the ocean. One of the highlights of the evening was the desserts that the cameraman and I ordered, which -- thanks to the waitress bringing out 8 additional forks -- we were obliged to pass around the table.

So with the expectation of finally getting to see the Deep Rover and with the glorious contentment that a dessert of rice pudding usually brings, this day finally came to an end.


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