It was another beautiful morning here at Astrolabe reef. The waxing, near full moon, set over the bow of the Rena, followed by a lovely sunrise just south of White Island; which we can see on a clear morning, still smouldering in the distance. What small oil sheen there was visible, continued to be blown to the East, well out to sea.
For the previous 24 hours, we have remained in close quarters on the port side of the Rena, with our oil transfer hose still connected to her bunkering manifold. Our DP system is operating very well, although we do lose DGPS diff signals occassionally, as the satellites disappear behind the accomodation block of the Rena. Our Cyscan laser range finder works very well at this close range and shows our reflector target mounted on the stern of the Rena, to be 44 metres away.
We now have a total of 22,000 litres of lubricating oil on board, stored in 2 of our ISO tank containers. It is slightly emulsified, due to contamination with both sea water and diesel, so is not reusable in its current state. It may be able to be rerefined or somehow recycled, but that is beyond my scope of knowledge. It is not continuous pumping to us, rather small parcel discharges, as the salvors drain all of the smaller lube & hydraulic oil storage tanks from within the engine room. There are occassions here when we feel like mushrooms, but generally we are kept pretty well in the operational loop.
Discharge of HFO & lube oil to the Awanuia has remained at a trickle. It will probably remain so, until completion of the hot tapping arrangements to the remaining fuel tank on the starboard side. Spare a thought for the personnel on the Awanuia. They are moored 30 metres down wind of the stern of the Rena. Every moment on deck they would be exposed to the stench emanating from the rotting contents of the freezer containers. I would assume that their air condition system is set to recycle.
There has been a slight but significant change, in the status of the major crack on the port side of the hull of the Rena, in the vicinity of number 2 hold. It is probably not noticeable to the casual observer, but there is further compression buckling of the hull apparent at the water line at low tide, coupled with a visual, transverse and vertical sheer misalignment of the forward and aft sections of the hull. Likewise the compression buckling in the hull, apparent in the vicinity of number 1 hold is also becoming greater. To clarify, when the Rena settled in her present position, her heading was 278 degrees. Her forward section remains on that heading, whereas her aft section might now be heading 279 degrees. Close observation of an aerial photo might reveal the aft section to be slightly offset to the South. To the non mariners, think of her as slightly bent to the left, like a banana. It appears that the incessant harmonic motions of wind, tide, tidal stream (tide induced current), waves and swell, appear to have finally severed the spine of the Rena. The Dutch salvage rep on board (the proud owner of my $20), confirmed that there is now a 60 cm movement in all directions, between the forward and aft sections.
The weather is due to turn to the South East at 25 knots on Thursday evening. It is the first time it has come from that direction in the 2 1/2 weeks we have been here on location. It will be interesting to observe the outcome. The Southeasterly weather would be just off our starboard bow, and put us on the "weather side" of the Rena, in a "blow on" position. Meaning, if we had an engine failure, we would be blown on to the Rena. She is more benign than a live gas riser, but it would still ruin our day. I expect that the call will be made within the next 24 hours, whether we remain connected to the discharge hose, or suspend operations and stand off. It is the Captain's ultimate decision, whether to stay in position, or stand off at a safe distance. I suspect that we will disconnect the hose by Thursday afternoon.
There was a new player in field today, in the form of a Sea-Tow tug and barge.
ST-60 (courtesy of 'Gladstone Observer')
The barge had two, long jib crawler cranes on board. They stooged around for a couple of hours, raising and lowering their fragile looking latticework jibs, looking all the while like long necked herons going through a mating ritual before proceeding back into port.
That is all from Astrolabe Reef today
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