Monday’s 4am shift got off on the right note as myself and Siobhan decided to upgrade our midnight snack to midnight steak (sandwich) thanks to the delectable leftovers from Sundays’ dinner.
It has been really interesting being on the Granuaile, as an Irish Lights vessel she carries on the legacy of all the beautiful lighthouses around the Irish coast. Today Sarah from the crew let me have a look at the Portolan, a handwritten, draw and photographed book put together showing all the lighthouses around Ireland and all the knowledge about them and how to navigate to them. And I couldn’t make this up if I tried, it was compiled by Captain Hook (Captain Colin Myles-Hook).
With slightly shorter ROV survey lines we got a good few covered today. Lots of coral and Bogna and I were really excited to see a meter long shark (possibly bigger), an enormous monkfish and some really amazing sponges.
The morning dawned with a beautiful sunrise. Today was a massive success for the cruise, after finishing off the last of our video survey lives (and witnessing and absolutely spectacular sunset) we moved on to rock drilling.
With potential sites for the drilling identified in previous surveys of the area and also a few from our own video survey lines, the ROV team had a map and plan and a new drill to test. Yesterday was the first time a rock drill has been used on the Holland 1 ROV and the first time any ROV has drilled in Irish waters for science. This drill created for the Holland 1 is also unique as it allows us to drill rock exposures (vertical rock faces) instead of drilling down through the whole bank with a huge drill rig. It’s compact, powerful and gets right to the base of things. There have been some granites drilled on top of the bank a few years ago, but the two cores recovered on this survey are the first ever drilled from the base of the bank.
With cores taken from two different sites, our geology team are eager to get the samples back to Cork and begin deducing what kind of rock they’ve got their hands on. So far there’s been a lot of speculation (perhaps even a few bets) but no one is 100%.
We had hoped for one more chance at coring but the weather had other ideas and so as the winds reached gusts of up to 50km (gale force 9) and 3.5m swell we packed up our things and set course for home.
As the gale descended on us we quite literally battened down the hatches, with all our belongings in our cabins making a solid attempt at escaping right out the door. Last night there was great camaraderie in the dining room/living area as we attempted to rustle up snacks while not getting thrown across the room. The opposite to being scared, the mood onboard was positively jolly. Sleep was funny with all the motion, but we got some great videos of the waves at around 5am this morning. After a bit of sleep, we’ve spent our rolling transit day (it will take a full 24h to be back in site of land) backing up our data, checking through our videos and just generally getting ready for the end of the cruise.