We brought up the elevator at 8am, loaded with four more IGT samplers and several rocks and slurp samples for the biologists. We made impressive progress – compared to our first day in the lab with ABE working for nearly 8 hours, we managed to finish in a mere three and a half, just in time for lunch.
After a quick meal of pepperoni and sausage calzones we dropped the elevator at the new site, Vai Lili. After the drop I tried to get a nap in, knowing we’d be making it a late night with a storm coming in. They were talking about bringing Jason back up at midnight, meaning four new samplers full and needing to be processed.
Less than an hour of sleep later, I woke to Wen yen peering through the privacy curtains around my bunk. “They are bringing the samples up,” she said. I thanked her groggily and slowly got up to return to the main lab.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t entirely correct. She had misunderstood the announcement and thought that the elevator was on the way – instead, it had merely just hit bottom. Jason was still in the water column and wouldn’t come down until the dust settled. I still had two hours before I had to be in the van and I was exhausted.
I sat and watched a minor ping pong tournament between a few of the guys in the meantime. Nick kicked Sean’s butt, then continued his reign of terror against Gilbert when Sean yielded. When 3:45pm rolled around, I reluctantly made my way to the frozen control van.
Jason had just reached the elevator and was starting to transfer samplers from one deck to the other. Stephane and I watched quietly, both of us unneeded and therefore rather bored. Annalouise sat knitting in the down time. At 4:40 we released the elevator and watched it slowly rise into the water column. Jason would move away from the area and rise a few meters off the bottom until the elevator reached the ship, which wouldn’t be for another hour.
Seeing the looks of dread on our faces, Annalouise laughed and set down her knitting. “Let’s go get dinner,” she said, smiling. “Then you two will have to process samples. We’ll be just transiting back to Mariner; you’re needed more in the lab than in the van.”
We shared smiles and headed to the mess hall, where the cooks had outdone themselves with roast duck, fried scallops, and apple pie with whipped cream for dessert. Dinner was a rather quiet affair, everyone being tired after a long day of processing. With more samples coming up in less than an hour, however, they couldn’t afford another nap.
The elevator rose to the surface before six and we quickly had it stowed and tied down. Sean and I carried the IGT samplers inside and set them on the table with grunts – each sampler was 40lbs.
The next three hours were spent in another flurry of activity. The biologists usually finished their processing within an hour and were long gone by 9pm when we heaved the last sampler back to its resting place. We envied the biologists a little since they finished so quickly, but they also had to check back on their samples, whereas we were done in one go.
Sean and Jeff began a game of ping pong. Niya prepared the H2S standards for the 12am Jason samples. Wen yen cleaned the most recently completed sampler and prepared it for another dive. I began the 13 vials each necessary for holding the fluid from the four incoming samplers.
The ship rolled beneath our feet more and more with the passing hour. The storm was approaching. We would not be diving for a few days, and the mood began to turn tired and bleak at the realization.
Thankfully, Sean and Jeff made an executive decision to go to bed and leave the samplers on Jason overnight. They would not leak and would preserve the sample as it was until the morning when we weren’t running on espresso fumes. I took the hint and went to bed, relieved to pull the covers over myself once more.