2011 BentProp Progress Report # 10

P-MAN XIII Update #10 - Dan O'Brien departs Palau in full stream-of-consciousness mode

[Editor's note: Dan can actually write prose. In English. But sometimes he goes into a trance, and starts generating stream-of-consciousness stuff that's basically like Pentecostals speaking in tongues, except a little more understandable, and it makes you kind of dizzy to read. Below you'll find an example. You might want to grab a couple of beers, or something stronger, and have at least one before starting this. I don't intend to even try to edit it, and I will accept no responsibility for brain damage that may occur to readers who approach this without proper chemical fortification.
- Reid

10 February

Rick caught the 2am flight out of Palau headed back to Seattle....
Back on the water pulling SSS....for a while and then problems with the SSS computer that could not be sorted out. Changed all the cables that make it work, changed the fish on the end of the wires, changed the wires.....BUT if ya read the manual on troubleshooting item 37a.3.c.33 subsection 9 says "check the fuse"....and your basic $.20 cent fuse did the trick and back to work.
And then.....we get all set to start running SSS at 2 knots and the boat keeps overspeeding, will not tow slower than 4-4.5 knots, which means no good data capture. So back to the dock and back to the hotel to crunch data and let the boat fixers fix the boat.

Rick says towing the SSS at two knots is fun.

Joe says ditto...

Met a guy today who is working on his PhD about sea grasses and stuff that grows in water up to 40 feet deep. He happens to have found a LIDAR sensing survey of certain areas of Palau ocean floor. We got him so excited about looking for stuff for us that he took the day off doing it. Thanks.

11-12 February

More SSS. More boat issues. But one boat is out towing SSS collecting data. The other half of the team is back at the hotel crunching the numbers and looking at the sonar pics trying to find crashed airplanes.

13 February

A leisurely casual Sunday of brunch at Palau Pacific Resort ( that be the really nice hotel on a real beach) with friends and new friends, very very nice. Then back to work. I think the nice food and lovely brunch paid off with getting folks motivated to go dive. We found 2 boats today with Paul placing clumps&buoys and then the diver boat pulls up and splashes divers as Paul's boat moves out to mark the next site.......the one hit just inside the claw of Malakal is a boat at 115', the site just outside the claw was too deep 145'+ but we tried to look, 3rd site south Western lagoon in a cove is a boat at 60' very very milky visability.

Paul and Melissa watching the SSS monitor.

Cooling off and recovering the clump-buoy.

Then we dove and snorkeled the known TBM Avenger at 30 feet.....the dive folks that have not seen a real crash site got very excited about that and what a real crashed coral encrusted aircraft site looks like.......
This was a good shake out learning day for tagging sites and follow up diving!!!
Tomorrow is a planning re-acquiring day of sites of promise and then Tuesday will be a dive day on said sites....

14 February

Another day of SSS with a twist. Today we try and acquire the targets of interest we reviewed and crunched at the hotel the past 2 days. This means towing the SSS of the target area, refind the target and then drop a weight/clump & buoy for the dive team to find and dive the target tomorrow. Another boat issue happened with some minor repairs required but the tools were not available on the boat So what do ya do??? Call BBB (better boat bureau), cell phone call to the uncle and the cousin shows up in 20 minutes with the solution and we are back in business.....gotta love it.

Not the BBB rescue boat - just a Chinese fishing boat.

15 February

why were so many divers on a boat???
another boat problem day and we are all on one boat now. Admiral Paul & his crew of 3, was staying ahead dropping marker buoys on the targets and granted permission for the other boat load of folks to transfer on board......the other boat limped home......9 divers on a dive boat full of ALL their gear and only one misplaced camera during the "pass the divers gear onto the boat" drill.....
9 dives to 120 feet at 9 different sites, in under 7 hours.....by 9 divers.....8-10 minute bottom time each.....
only one sighting of something of interest...not sure what it may be...pics are on Flip's camera.....attached is drawing of said object..about 2 meters across with some bracing/cross hatching about 1 meter out of the sandy floor...

With artists like this, who needs U/W cameras?

WHAT A DAY......I am beat and feeling good....
Paul heads home tonite. Down to one BentProp visitor, me, and the 2 locals, Joe and Jolie.

16-17 February

Political round-up days. Making the stops at gov't offices and the Capital to pay my respects and thank Palau for allowing us to do what we do in their country!!!
Also got to visit with the brand new US Ambassador to Palau at the new US Embassy!! Jolie and I made it thru security, tighter than a US airport, and had a very pleasant 30 minute chat with Ambassador Helen Reed-Rowe. She will send us the picture, our cameras were not allowed in the gate.....

18-19 February

Clean up, pack up, load up day. Even bought gifts for others and I mean shopping for others to give said gifts....the things I do for teamies....
Got to say thanks to new friends that helped us do SSS and dive the potential sites...just a little tour in the BentProp air force helicopter. A friend who flies the tour helicopter and the owner of said helicopter treat us very very well!!!! Thank you Palau Helicopters and Matt!!!

BentProp friends who helped us with SSS.

Matt Harris, our Palau Helicopters helo tour guide and GREAT friend.

20 February

Day off....HA.....got to go in the jungles on Babelthaup with Jolie our archaeologist team member and her PhD mentor and wife and see 2,000+ year old village sites and earthworks and OMG is it incredible stuff and the views are spectacular!!!!! Jolie sent photos of the day:

21 February

Alii, so last day here in Palau and I decide to wander on out to the Wildcat wing crash site by the airport to check on reports of roads and building near the site.

Nothing of note to cause any issues with the recovery site JPAC has on the books for later this year.
The new CAT team has Air Force unit that just took over and I met the second in command last Friday at the change ceremony. Senior Master Sgt expressed a strong interest in helping out and going on a filed trip with BentProp. So I call him Sunday am and say hey wanna go for a short stroll right next door to your camp??? He of course jumps at it.
Joe was gonna come but he is needed at Neco for a tour and kayak run...his favorite. So what the heck, it's close out in the open, been their several times....what could go wrong???

Nice walk in to the Wildcat wing, wet swamp mud up to the ankles, not bad the SMSgt is loving it!!!

Dan at the Wildcat wing

Now over thru the really swampy part to the engine, I am running point and making a path he is cruising and enjoying the sweat.
Engine area is as it was no issue no problems. The road area and building are on the other side of the swamp, no danger of the MIA site being disturbed.
Ok, now hike back out the way we came or press on thru to the houses and the CAT camp??? Time for a new path......
Halfway to the house area guess what we came across????

Typical crocodile nest...

YUP, looked exactly like this but the swamp grass was much taller, like 5 feet tall and hid the nest much better. So when I parted the grass and saw the nest and said OH SHIT..
And the really cool part.....the egg shells were still on top of the nest....and a couple halves down the side of the nest......recent hatching and nobody in sight.....time for a picture???? NO....just watching and waiting looking for mama croc and the kids as "....slowly we turned...step by step...inch by inch"....moving very cautiously and loudly out of their domain....also saw several areas that the swamp grass was all flat and smooth like somebody made a bed......
Now that was exciting!!!!!
SMSgt has something to write in his "do and do not" report tonite.....
Back to the hotel to cool off and check my pulse.....start packing for the trip out tonite. Back to Hawaii for 2 days, stop by JPAC hq and say Aloha then home sweet home......

Palau, peace, out...

Bluest Palau Skies, dob

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