The Persistence left the dock at 1345 hrs heading out to the search area. A broken wire delays acquisition for a while until it is properly diagnosed and fixed. 1700 hrs - sonar survey underway.
1830 hrs: seas building 6-8ft with occasional 12+ft.
Flashback: Sat 12-Jan 2000 hrs
Line by line through the night and day, the captain, navigator and I evade the beast. My eyes are focused and hands steady at the controls as the captain brings the Persistence around on line for one last joust through the Leviathan’s lair. Communication is clear and concise. The teamwork between the operator, navigator and boat captain is crucial to our success. The towfish descends where the sentient beast is waiting and ready. This time, the beast reluctantly submits and the Leviathan retreats to its lair after being bested time and time again. The Persistence claims the victory.
A prolonged operation of any kind at or near their limits often leads to trouble and breakdown. The Persistence has operated under strenuous conditions for over a month without incident, failure, or breakdown of any kind. After the battle with the beast, the Persistence heads to the dock for some needed preventative equipment maintenance and rest for the crew. A couple days rest after nearly a month without ceasing is a welcome break for all.
Sat 12-Jan 1340 hrs
The progress of the past couple nights embolden the search team and fortified our confidence to begin work on the deepest portion of the search area. After the bathymetric survey, a plan of attack was drafted and we set out into the depths. The previous search areas gave us the impression the seabed was a worn, tired, old beast with a relatively subdued attitude and benign character. However, adventuring into the depths brought us straight into the grasp of a much different beast. We found ourselves in the lair of the Leviathan.
Descending into the depths, 3000 ft+ of cable spools off the winch. The Persistence slows as the towfish fades far behind the boat. After a long while, the seabed- smooth and welcoming begins to come into range. We descend further, but proceed with a tense sense of danger. It's suddenly clear the beast was waiting for us with baited breath. The towfish narrowly escapes being devoured, skirting between several massive fang-like rocks. A large curled stony-tongue extrudes beneath the sonar, passing through the beast's jaws. The Persistence quickly fires the throttles forward vaulting the sonar away from the sea floor. Without hesitation, the mighty beast gives chase with surprising agility. Skimming over ancient carbonate spines and a bifurcated tail of current-quarried rock the towfish takes flight, besting the Leviathan.
With the lessons and limits learned from the first pass, we strategically withdraw before moving in for the fight. Line by line, the Leviathan and the Persistence battle all night and through the morning. The beast knows that with one slip the towfish belongs to him. We know that if our assault is flawless, the Leviathan will yield its secrets.