Danger Will Robinson!
Tonight we have three gliders in the Atlantic. One heads to the pick up points and prepares for recovery by the Norwegians in the fjords of Svalbard. The hero of the day RU27 as it has has turned East and we approach the EEZ of the Azores. The third glider, the Drake glider, which we hoped to head east however is limping tonight.
We received info from John Dingess that the Drake glider appeared to have developed an interior leak in the air pump system. This resulted in the vacuum decreasing since the 13th. Current diagnosis of what appears to be happening is that an internal leak in the air tubing is resulting in the aft air bladder not inflating properly, thereby causing the tail to not come up high enough when the glider surfaces. The same air pump moves the oil internally from the forward bladder to the center reservoir. What is disturbing is given the tubing is leaking internally means that the air pump pressure cutoff switch never activates, so when the glider is climbing or at the surface, the air pump runs constantly. We are bleeding power. Our energy usage has increased to the point were it will quickly lead to a death at sea for Drake. This means we have hit a wall. It is time to readjust, lick our wounds, heal, and then head back to sea. All great journeys have twists and turns, and so we are in retreat phase of this epic journey. The Teledyne Webb team did a great job of diagnosis and planned our plan of action.
Given this, Teledyne Webb/Rutgers is turning the glider around and we head back to St. Thomas for recovery, repair, and re-deployment. To reach St. Thomas safely we will to shut off the Argos and the CTD. We will adjust how the glider flies by increasing the number of yo’s per segment to keep the glider underwater for as long as possible. At the surface, we will change the surface dialog as we will not reliably have the dialog, so no files sent back. We are plotting a course back, and the power budgets back to St. Thomas. Current guess is that we around 80 days of power back St, Thomas, that should be fine, but until we are back who knows. So we return to the islands, we heal, we think, and then we head back out to sea. To challenges best yet overcome. On my first cruise in the Sargasso Sea, I worked across from English scientst who would make his measurements, and as he finished before he retreated for a gin would look up and say "never realize your dreams to early in life." For the thermal glider, this was not our time, but tomorrow is.