The Mississippi River Project
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Mississippi River Project: Day 7
Today was not good.  I’ll give you the bad news then tell you the story.

We lost the streamer.

About mid-morning we noticed Dolly crossing to starboard about ready to cross under the pneumatic sound device.  That’s never good, but she also had stopped going downstream.  We were getting closer to Dolly.  She’s stuck!!!

Hopping on the radio, we asked the runner boat to see if they could un-snag Dolly.  At the same time, a message was shot to the pilothouse of the situation.  Engines revved, and eyes were on the streamer line attached to the Harvey Pete.  Normally the streamer cable drops from the deck of the Harvey Pete into the water over a distance of about 12-15 ft.  The trajectory of the Strong had sent us to port and the streamer was strained.  The streamer cable distance between the Harvey Pete and when it entered the water was now at 30 ft…..and…gone.  The cable went slack.  Pulling what was still attached to the Harvey Pete on deck quickly revealed that we lost the main part of the streamer.  80 seconds had passed.

The runner boat had pulled Dolly onto their deck and was trying desperately to hold onto the cable that was our only link to the streamer.  They called to the Strong, “Too much tension.  Something’s not right.  It’s hard to hold.”  We responded, “Throw Dolly back in.  If snagged she’ll float.  But wait!...tie a rope between Dolly and the streamer rope.”  We had used wimpy zip ties for that connection to allow Dolly to easily disconnect when wacked by debris.  Now we needed a solid connection.  12 seconds.  Snap…snap.  The two zip ties broke from the connection.  Not enough time!  Dolly was on deck, but our sole connection to the streamer was now under water somewhere.

Jump ahead 30 minutes.  The Strong’s chief engineer and deck hands crafted a metal grappling hook.  We attached a strong rope and weighted it with bolt nuts and D-rings (heavy metal connectors).  Mark (Corps of Engineers) had very wisely set a GPS waypoint where Dolly was snagged and we headed out to see if we could miraculously retrieve the streamer.  We tried multiple passes with no results.  We were in ~30-40 ft of water.  So to hit bottom and drag, we tied a second rope to the first and sent it to the bottom.  Now some would think, “Oh, now you’re going to lose the grappling hook because the knot will slip.”  Well, Dustin (Corps of Engineers) and Brian are both Eagle scouts and we tied a square knot.  See, you still use it.

Unfortunately we never found the streamer.  We tried for about an hour and a half.  The plan is to see if the Corps of Engineers can bring up their multi-beam (high detail/resolution) and sidescan sonar underwater sensors to scan the area for the streamer.  In the meantime, we deployed the backup streamer and continued downstream collecting data.

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Last Updated: 1/23/12