This morning we all reassembled on the wharf bright and early and began the process all over again. You may think it is a very simple and straightforward procedure to duct tape what are essentially three pieces of rope together, but in reality it takes a great deal of learning on our part as well as a lot of practice. The first thing we have to learn is how to tape the fiber optic cables (there are two) to the blue poly-steel line. With the 'taper' standing on one side of the line and the fiber cable holder (the 'tapee') standing on the other, the taper wrapped three turns of duct tape around the poly-steel line. Then, the taper carefully held the fiber against the poly-steel making sure to leave a little bit of slack in the fiber. This procedure was practiced a few times by each team of taper and tapee until the two were working in unison.
Now that we had the taping well in hand, we were ready for the real thing.
The end of the poly-steel rope was attached by a rolling hitch (a knot taught to us by the
skipper and first-mate) to the bumper of a little red pickup truck which slowly
drove down the wharf dragging 30 meters of line behind it. Two or three people
stood at 10-15 meter intervals holding the fiber cables aloft so that they wouldn't
be dragged across the rough concrete of the wharf abrading the thin outer
covering of the fibers. When the truck reach the end of its rope, another rolling
hitch was used to anchor the other end to a large cable spool. Now that both
ends were secured, the truck moved forward again just enough to put some tension
on the line and stretch it a bit. Since the 4-ton Deep Rover
would stretch the line, it was necessary
to add slack to the line when we taped on the fiber so that it wouldn't
snap under tension. Once the truck had stretched the line, the parking brake
was applied. Then the taping teams jumped into action, leap-frogging one past the other
in a race to see who would be the first one to finish their allotment of wraps.
I won't go into the details but I will say that that this had all the drama and competitive spirit
of an Olympic
After the 30 meters of line was completed, the truck slowly reversed back down the dock, retracing
the path it had just traveled while one person stood in the bed of the truck
and very carefully coiled the line and fiber optic cables. People stood along the line and held it aloft so that it could
more easily be placed in the truck. When all the line for this segment had been
coiled, the process was repeated over and over again until finally, after what
seemed like an eternity, we saw the end of the line slowly snaking its way up
the dock with each successive pull. The last 30 meters was stretched, the tapers
got into position and the final heat of the afternoon was underway. It was neck
and neck for the first 10 meters or so but then the joint US/New Zealand team
broke into the lead, and then there we were, standing at the finish line holding
empty roll of duct tape--finished.
It was almost too much to believe that the last wrap of the last pull was done
with the very last piece of tape on the roll, but that was exactly how it came
to pass. Standing back and looking over what we had all done, the coiling gang
happily posed for a group photograph.
If all goes as planned tomorrow, Ingrid, Clyde, Mike Sweeney and myself will board the ferry to make the three hour trip across Cook Strait, followed by the three hour drive down along the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand towards Kaikoura, the site of the expedition in Search of the Giant Squid.