Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Well into the third and final cruise of the MAG - Mix study

PHEW! Here we are, just finishing up the third day of the research cruise. I thought it would be an easy one, having two trips already under our belts, but we all need a little excitement, don't we?

For my group from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, we got more than we bargained for before we even got to the boat. We started our drive to southern Louisiana last Friday, planning to stop in Mobile, Alabama, after 8 or 9 hours of travel. Just about an hour or so up the highway, though, we had a tire blowout on our trailer full of gear. No real harm done, but we could have skipped changing a tire in the Hot Florida sunshine, slapping away the fire ants. We limped into Gainesville, replaced the blown out tire, replaced the other one that looked a bit dry-rotted, and replaced the odd-sized rim. For good measure we got the oil changed (it was a bit overdue) and refueled at Sonny's Bar-B-Que.

The rest of the trip looked like it was going to be uneventful, but then the AC compresor seized up just past Pensacola. After it (and the belt) cooled down a bit, it seemed to have settled itself out, but we limped into Mobile a bit on edge, 12 hours after we started. At some point we realized a fuse had blown for the dash lights (and the running lights for the trailer), and when we stopped to refuel and get some fuses, the AC compressor made some very bad noises.

It was too late to get much done, but Iuri made some contacts at the restaurant which eventually led him to a mechanic who was kind enough to chat with us on the phone at 11:15 pm on a Friday night. Essentially, he advised us to get the car checked out in the morning before trying to continue. Fortunately we were able to get the car looked at Friday morning at 7:00 am. The mechanics bent over backwards to replace most of the AC system and got us back on the road by 11:00 am. We finally got to the Pelican about 4:30 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the evening getting everything loaded, organized and secured for a midnight departure. Yikes! Not how I like to start a trip, but everyone arrived safe and sound.

Many thanks go out to my wife, Robin, for tracking down lots of people on Saturday morning apprise them of the situation and to get authorization for the repair. Many thanks also go to Bob Wang, our laboratory manager, who came in on Saturday to make sure we could pay for the repairs.

I'll try to get more people to post on this blog soon. Our chief scientist, Alan Shiller, is maintaining a separate blog on his facebook page. Feel free to send him a friend request if you would like to read it.

Jim Krest
USF St. Petersburg


Anonymous said...

Jim, yikes - what an adventure, even before the cruise! Glad to hear that you folks made it to ship in time.
How is the weather this time out? What kinds of data are you collecting on this trip?
- Have a safe cruise and take care..

Anonymous said...

Great that you have finished 3rd day!!
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