Day 1: June 10
We began our survey today, leaving from the USACE Ensley shipyard in southwest Shelby
County and headed south. We call our project the moonwalk because we mimic the late Michael Jackson’s famous
stage move of gliding backwards. We found in the first survey (2007) that if the Strong faced upstream with the equipment
deployed off the stern (back of the boat), we obtained amazingly clear data. So think about going backwards down the MS River with a 300 ft long piece of equipment
deployed off the back, staying within the buoyed channel and avoiding river traffic. The Corps of Engineers’ pilots are AMAZING!!
Being this is our third time on the river, moving south section by section each time,
you’d think we’d feel confident that things would all go smoothly. But we were cautious still. I guess that’s important as complacency can breed mistakes and mistakes can be costly
in this business.
We burst our first air bubble (energy source) in the river around 10 AM. The data coming in was beautiful as there was little noise in the data and we were
seeing sediment layers nearly half a mile beneath the river bottom. This continued throughout the day without incident.....until the very end.
So we have a streamer that’s a 2-inch tube 300 ft long that receives the energy signal
that is reflected back off the deep sediment layers. The streamer floats just below the river’s surface. On the end of it is an orange buoy. Where the buoy helps to regulate the streamer’s depth below the water’s surface,
it also lets us know where the end of the streamer is in the water. The MS River clarity is not that of a mountain stream…it’s rather muddy.
Anyway, the end of the streamer got close to a MS River channel buoy. We had to race the Strong’s engines to push quickly up stream in hopes to avoid wrapping
the streamer around the buoy. It got R E A L close. Our streamer buoy, who we’ve dubbed Dolly, gave the MS River buoy a slight kiss and
hug before we were out of harm’s way.
A little scare, but our day ended smoothly otherwise.