Saturday, May 16, 2009

What a week!

This week I had a trip into the caldera of the volcano, swam with a 90 year old grouper and his harem, Gaye was repatriated to NZ by helicopter and we had a magnitude 6.7 earthquake.

On Tuesday the GNS group who are here to organise tsunami and seismology alerts had an expedition into the caldera of the volcano that erupted in 2006. I volunteered to carry in a steel cylinder for the divers who were to install some of the equipment - stupid move but a fascinating chance to have a look at a part of the island that has been off-limits since the last eruption.

As you would expect, it's a bit of a wasteland down there. You get a real sense that something catastrophic has taken place as you walk through hundreds of tree skeletons that have all been snapped off at about shoulder height.

Wednesday saw us helping out again - this time with the foxway and derrick that is used to unload and transport gear to boats waiting off the rocks in the area we know as Fishing Rock. There is a photo in the library of a LARGE tiger shark that was caught off these rocks 15 years ago, but that didn't deter the workers from leaping into the water at every opportunity when we were unloading concrete for the foundation of a new tower. It was a warm day and the water temperature hovered around 22 degrees.

As soon as you got into the water the local "Big Boy" came right out to find out what was going on in his patch. No doubt he was also looking for food. Here he is:

He's a 90 year old grouper and he is frequently accompanied by his harem of two almost-as-big fish. They allow themselves to be stroked and are not averse to having a nip at your fingers if they can.

On Friday on of the GNS boys, Andrew, had an awkward fall as he was getting off a boat (no easy landings here) and it was decided to evacuate him by helicopter. The chopper had to leave Taupo at 2am and arrived here just on breakfast time. A quick bite to eat, a refuel and they were away again with Andrew and Dr Gaye in attendance for the five hour flight back to NZ. The fully laden machine was so heavy they had to run down the airstrip in order to get up enough speed to take off. Four people and a lot of fuel - not much room for extras!

They originally thought they would have to top up the fuel at L'Esperance island (landing zone= about the size of your kitchen table) where there is a fuel dump. Gaye was going to have to leap out and pump while they kept the rotors going, but luckily the winds were favorable and a refuel was deemed unnecessary.

Conicidentally L'Esperance island was the epicentre of the earthquake that shook the place up at 1pm. Luckily the helicopter was an hour away at that stage and safely en route to Tauranga, where Gaye is tonight.

Our "organiser" board, which keeps track of everyone's whereabouts. Gaye's entry = Where? NZ. Expected return = Canterbury.

We are hoping she will be back with us as soon as the HMNZS Canterbury sails up this way in about 10 days.

Meanwhile, tonight's meal was all meat, accompanied by white bread.


Anonymous said...

Hope you are looking after Gayes veggies whilst she is away RJ

The Raoul Report said...

The garden has been hijacked - I put in six new lots of plants after work this afternoon, carefully supervised by two kakarikis.

The Raoul Report said...

The garden has been hijacked - I put in six new lots of plants after work this afternoon, carefully supervised by two kakarikis.