The Persistence is currently working in the same general area as the last several days. Winds 25 kts with 6-10ft side seas. More later
Thurs 31-Jan 1040 hrs
The last several days saw outstanding progress in what was expected to be the roughest part of the search area. Last night, we learned why the local fishermen nicknamed this area “don’t go there”. The seas were a rather innocuous 2-3ft with pleasant 10kt breeze. Within an hour, the seas exploded into a 12-14ft torrent with 35kt sustained winds. After a few hours battling side seas the search team brought the sonar on deck amidst crashing waves of green water pouring over the back deck. We found an approximately 265ft long wreck lying upright on the seabed which is an eerie testament of this area’s volatile ferocity.
3D Fly through of NW Aruba and the offshore bathymetry
Tues 29-Jan 1610 hrs
The Persistence left the dock at 0645 hrs this morning returning to survey what has been the roughest portion of the search area. The seas here are reliably 8-12 ft due to convergent water masses, strong stratified shearing currents, and opposing trade winds. Local fishermen have a name for it which roughly translates to "don't go there". For the last couple days we have been working in the heart of "don't go there" in atypically calm 2-3 ft swells. We have never seen it this calm out here. The timing couldn't be better. More later
Sun 27-Jan 2355 hrs
The Persistence left the dock this morning at 0740 hrs. The 15kt winds out of the east lapped up rather tranquil 2-3ft seas. It's as calm as we've ever seen it offshore here. The Aruba Coast Guard boarded the Persistence for a friendly visit at 0810 hrs this morning. For an hour we shared coffee, traded T-shirts, swapped stories, and showed them our progress. They were extremely impressed by the side scan sonar capabilities and 3-D bathymetric imagery. After a round of hearty hand shakes and a few good pictures, they boarded their approximately 30ft long rigid-hull inflatable boat and pushed off from the Persistence. With a smile they shouted to us, “Would you like a little demonstration?” At once, the Coast Guard took off with a sudden blast from two massive inboard engines. In no time the nimble boat was leaping wave to wave at nearly 40kts. Several times the boat came clear out of the water. It was thrilling not only to watch the playful demonstration, but to watch the trust build and friendships form.
Working with the Aruba police dive division, Coast Guard, and Port Authority has been an astonishing experience. Since December 15th we've established a solid working relationship based on openness and trust. Most of the successful rapport was due to getting the media hype out of the way and working together shoulder to shoulder through time. We've helped each other however and whenever we can. They've treated us with decency and respect and we have treated them as friends and allies, which they are. I wish we had a month ahead of the project just to ascertain the relationships and bonds. Although highly skeptical and suspecting in the beginning, it's clear we're all carefully and diligently working towards a common goal. It seems we share the same attitudes of integrity, courage, dedication, and hope. We’ve all struck an accord in the desire for closure and healing for the families involved and restoring the relationship between our beloved countries.
RV Persistence - Courtesy visit from the Aruba Coast Guard 27-Jan 0940 hrs