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April 20th, 2003; Leg 5, Arrival

All participants for Leg 5A arrived safely, with some stray luggage coming the next day. We noted that our arrival in La Paz on Easter weekend happened to coincide with John Steinbeck and Ed Rickets coming here aboard the original Western Flyer 63 years ago. 

Preparations for the Paull/Brewer leg got into full swing Saturday morning. Shipping containers were unloaded, the chemistry van was disgorged of its contents, and lab equipment was setup and tested throughout the day. Pete Braccio and Dan Chamberlain addressed computer system issues and made successful repairs. Mike Conway prepared the benthic elevators for use with the ROV Tiburon vibracoring system on this next leg. The ROV pilots went through a painstaking labor of love, carefully repairing the fiber optic cable that enters the main pressure case for the Tiburon. On the previous leg, small amounts of moisture migrated down the cable towards the pressure can, threatening to damage the main control circuitry for the vehicle. We all hope that this repair will hold for the remaining legs.

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Dave French (right) and Jim Cohen troubleshoot some wiring on the ROV Tiburon.

0420w-lrs.jpg (68007 bytes)Sunday was more relaxed. The Easter Bunny made a cameo appearance, leaving some yellow marshmallow bunnies next to the microwave and robin eggs and jellybeans in the galley. The science party finished setting up the labs and the testing of the Laser Raman Spectrometer (see left). The Tiburon went through a few moonpool dives pier-side.  

By late Sunday afternoon, some of us explored a shallow lagoon in Balandras Bay, seven kilometers north of Pichilingue. The seafloor of the lagoon was covered with foraminferal sands. A variety of small benthic creatures were found crawling or burrowing into the sand. While wading through the water, we experienced, first-hand, fragments of je0420w-beach.jpg (42532 bytes)llies, which were capable of inflicting painful stings despite not being part of a whole animal. The water in the lagoon was a brilliant azure, and the swimming was pleasant. Brown pelicans were plentiful along the narrow, winding, coast road between the Los Arcos Hotel in La Paz and the pier at Pichilingue. Many were sunning themselves on the gunnels of wooden boats moored or pulled up onto the beach. The coast road cuts through a dramatic landscape of tertiary ashflow tuffs and volcanic breccias. Varieties of cholla and cordon cacti are scattered across the washes. So far the mountain-bikers on our crew have successfully evaded the infamous "jumping" cholla, so feared in these parts for their stealth-like agility in finding human legs. 

We set sail tomorrow at 8:00 a.m., heading for the transform fault north of Guaymas Basin. This will be about a 24-hour steam north, and preparations will continue throughout the day. We expect to make our first dive Tuesday morning. 

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Rumor has it that ROV Pilot Paul Tucker has a trained pink flamingo that chases the guard dogs on the pier. The elusive creature has been spotted, but its true talents have not been revealed.  



Enthusiasm is running high, and everyone is in good spirits, anticipating the adventures that lie ahead of us for the next 11 days. 

Bill, Debbie, Elena, & Patrick

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Sheri White is hard at work with 
final preparations for the next leg 
of the expedition into the Gulf of California.

Next day