2014 BentProp Progress Report # 26

P-MAN XVI Update # 26 - Toys and distinguished visitors

07 April 2014

Split ops today. Mark Swank, Bill Belcher, Dan, Jo, Robin and Dave went up to Police Hill. They visited Mark's bread crumb trail of clues through the jungle that led him to the area we suspect the executions took place. They also surveyed the areas that we call A and B. Tomorrow, Bill will start in earnest with some shovel excavations and test pits. They also went to Bridge Bem Ermii for shakes. Not that they brought back any for the rest of us, if you get my meaning.

Everybody else but me went on a boat and started checking more void areas by means of SCUBA. I met up with them for lunch and they told me about a rip-roaring current that really carried them along a channel. Sounded like fun so I was glad I could get back to the boat for the afternoon.

In the morning, I stayed back to be the BentPropper deployed with Stockbridge. The typhoon had past us and the weather actually got worse at 11am, Bob Richards called it a day and sent the kids off to accomplish stuff. And of course the weather subsided enough that they could do a mission, but the team was to far afield to bring them back.

So I joined the water team. We're checking the parts of the channel by the reef walls that the AUV cannot get to. Pat, Derek and Joe had first shift and caught a nice current and went quite a ways. They only saw old car tires. Casey, Rick and I did the next part of this channel. When we got in, I certainly didn't feel any current. I had to work to make forward progress. Then all of a sudden, we picked up speed and really started cruising. I was doing my scan of the bottom from left to right. Casey was on my left and by the time my scan got back to him, he was gone. As it turns out, the cut (canal without locks) in the long island had a current in it going away from us and it sucked Casey in. Rick and I noticed he was gone and stopped. He didn't come back so we continued on course. Then the current really picked up. We spotted a few things along the way.

Look what Flip found.

Joe found a fishing pole and Flip found a machine gun.
Okay, it was a toy. But with the sediment and coral on it,
Flip had a few people questioning it.

Before we went in, Rick remarked about how someday he'd like to drift under the Koror-Malakal bridge. Well, we did. And the current kept us going almost to Arakabesan. Under the bridge we slalomed past the current bridge pilings, and the old ones they did not take out. It was a very fun dive for not seeing much of anything.

During happy hour, we played rock/paper/scissor and the winner from all of us got to pick the location for dinner. I won and we went to The Taj. A great meal as usual.

Rick and Mark

Dan and Bill

I found out that our rental car's rear side window fell out during the day. The repair side of the rental car company came and took the car away for a repair. At least he said he was from the car company. The car did make its way back to us the following day.

The weather isn't the best out here, but we keep on working. If no one had mentioned the word typhoon, we probably would have worked through it as well.

08 April

Pat and Casey went to the airport pretty early to greet Governor Perry and his crew. His wife and daughter came with him, along with Darcy and Kay Anderson, R.V. Bergin and his daughter Terrie. Once they got a chance to put their feet up, the Governor was going to go up to Police Hill and see what was going on up there. And the entire Texas crew would join us for dinner with the Stockbridge team.

I was once again scheduled with the Stockbridge students. We briefed at 0700 and they told me to be at the dock ready to push off at 0830. And we did. Steve Ballinger from Cleared Ground came along to see one of the underwater vehicles in action.

The little bowling ball looking thing may be useful to him in checking out wrecks and the ocean bottom for UXO. The students demoed the Deep Tracker (It really has a name.) for him on a reef. They only got the cable caught twice on the bottom so I got to see pretty fish while snorkeling to unhook it. They figured out a buoy system on the fly to keep the cable off the bottom. Steve saw how easy it is to maneuver the craft with a cable that sank and a cable that floated.

Deep Tracker on deck.

Bob Richards line tending the buoyed cable.

Chloe driving the Deep Tracker

New and improved control center. No laptops, and no rats nest of wires all over the deck.

This year's Dingar.

I don't know why, but I really like the lines of these Longline fishing vessels.

After a bit of that, we took Steve back to Neco. We went back out to a real target. One of the Scripps/UDel developed 'interesting' things in the harbor. Although the rain clouds were threatening, the students wanted to go out and find something. We got to the lat/long, dropped a buoy in and tried to anchor the boat. And tried. And tried. That part of the harbor is a really flat, silty bottom without much of anything solid for the anchor to grab hold of. After a goodly number of tries, we called it a day. The students were flying out that night and hadn't planned on even a half day mission. But they squeezed one in. We went back to Neco, and just as we sat down for lunch, the clouds opened up and a deluge descended on us. Timing, as they say, is everything. After lunch, they went off to start packing and shipping equipment back to Michigan. They did have a photo shoot with OTV in mid afternoon. Then at 7pm would be our farewell dinner.

Meanwhile, the rest of our intrepid explorers were out on Police Hill and on a boat. The Police Hill people reported that the area around what we thought was a burn pit, turned out to be another trench. And the 55 gallon drum that was set into the ground probably just held fuel for the burn pit that was near it. So the area is exciting for our archeologist, anthropologist and our deep thinker into what happened up there.

Our boat people went back into the channel we did the other day. The one with the really swift current. This time we did the opposite side of the channel. No real current to speak of and absolutely awful visibility. I joined this team for the afternoon. We did another two dives in the channel. We saw a turtle and not much else. We then went to Nargol Island to see if we could spot a wing from the water. A Palauan reports that you can see it. He just didn't remember exactly where along the island it was. But we took a chance. And of course you know the results. We didn't see anything. Then for a late afternoon fun excursion, we went to the Jake seaplane dive spot. One of the producers from Traveling Picture Shows is a new diver and we gave her the chance for her first post certification dive.

Over the Jake

One more Jake photo

Back to the house, got cleaned up and then we hosted the students to their farewell dinner at The Longshoremen Restaurant. It's just our way of saying thank you to a great bunch of explorers. This was their only chance to meet Governor Perry and his group. We had a wonderful dinner, the speechifying was spot on and the students gave us presents as well. We all now sport Stockbridge Underwater Robotics t-shirts in the 2014 colors.

Governor Perry chatting with the Stockbridge students, with his wife and daughter to his right.

RV Bergin and the Governor with our students.

Governor Perry with Bob Richards, Chloe, and Karly.

This year's Stockbridge team.

Stockbridge and BentProp for one final photo.

We did not do a mission scrub with Scripps/UDel as it was a bit late to start one. And it really didn't matter as tomorrow would be our big trip to Peleliu.

- Flip

All photos © Flip Colmer2014

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