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Well, when the props fouled the third time, I suggested we call it a day, as we’d already made some 32 sea-kilometers. We were out on the fringes of the worst of the kelp forest beds, and after a good night’s sleep, we’d be ready to deploy bright and early and get some seismic data acquired and recorded.
But, first, there was the first night aboard ship. In a rusty old tin-can with few creature comforts, as the annual winter monsoon winds wane and the seas actually begin to settle slightly.
I took that as both good omens. The bitching and kvetching I head from the locals about the ‘abominable weather they had to endure’, even from the Coast Guard types, really struck me as uproariously funny.
I just chalked it up to being sequestered from the rest of the world for so long. Put these characters in the path of a Midwestern tornado, East Indian summer monsoon, or Siberian blizzard, and they’d shit themselves blind. I didn’t really think too much of it, although it became somewhat of a game when the imperialistic foreigners tried to one-up each other with horror stories from excursions past.
“No shit”, Dax said, “We were snowed in for a full fortnight.”
“No!” several of us recoiled in mock horror.
“Oh, yah, hey.” Dax continued, “It’s just great when blizzards snap the power lines, and all the toilets freeze. The house cat didn't die until we burned up all our wood. Considering we ate her raw, she tasted pretty good…”
Several of our handlers, a few in the Coast Guard and most of the Korean scientists reacted rather badly to Dax’s story; especially when it had been gorily translated.
Seeing this, Dax stood up, got the soju bottle, and asked if anyone needed a top-up. I asked while puffing away on a large Jamaican cigar if anyone needed a smoke.
At this point, Dax was winning. He had seven of the assembled crowd run to the rail to relieve themselves of our canned Chinese dinner.
Not ever one to shrink from a challenge, I related my second-hand story of my Brother-in-law, who was in the US Coast Guard for years and years. I waited for the green crowd to re-join us and regain what remained of their composure. I figured the quasi-military national Coast Guarders here would appreciate the tale.
Mine wasn’t a gory or shocking tale, just one of the incredible water conditions off the coast of California.
I waited until everyone was settled, drink in hand, and smokin’ ‘em if you got ‘em.
“Well”, I said, “It was on board a ship much like the one we’re currently on,” I said as a rascal wave broke over the railing in counterpoint. “About the same size as this vessel, but with smaller wheels. You know these Coast Guard shallow-water boys”, I chuckled. Always meaning to jab one group or another in the place where I know it stings.
Yeah, I’m a real bastard that way sometimes.
The Korean Coast Guarders sneered hardly at me; but not too hard. They liked my cigars, cigarettes, and open disbursement policy too much.
“Yeah, anyways”, I continued, “He was offshore California in one of the US Coast Guard cutters. It was a boat about 26 meters or so in length. They were out doing search and rescue after a mega-nasty storm blew in from the west and scuttled a sailing regatta race.”
I was drawing them in with my ‘just so’ story, nice and easy, until…
“Yeah, there were several capsized monohulls, catamarans and trimarans. Damn, these things were fucking yachts. Owned by rich idiots that almost knew how to sail but didn’t know enough to get out of the way of a fucking severe storm…”
I really had their attention with ‘soaking the rich’.
“Well, the waves grew and grew, but my Brother-in-laws's boat was built to handle severe weather. These patrol and rescue boat has the capability to roll over 360 degrees and self-right within 30 seconds. Like right now, you’d never even notice this degree rock and roll”, I said as I demonstrated with my cigar, tracing out tighter and tighter rolls, and higher degrees of rocking and rolling.
“They were approaching a capsized trimaran, but the waves kept growing and growing…” I said, leading by example and having them watch me with unblinking attention.
“The waves grew and grew, and normally you’d take these head-on. But that was impossible, because when afternoon came it was slashin' rain, in the face of a hurricane west wind. The boat rolled to the left, heeled, almost keeled, a then rolled the other way just as quickly.” I noted.
They followed me as I timed it with the heavings of our own boat, to the left…to the right…
“Then, just as they were about to reach upon the trimaran, a rogue wave! Out of nowhere”, I said, rocking and rolling along with our own little boat, “BAM
! Hit amidships! It didn’t roll once, it rolled twice!” I made great and magniloquent gestures of a tiny boat being savaged by a monstrous rogue sea wave.
I stood up, blew a great blue cloud of smoke towards the poop deck, and said, loudly, “Rolled over once. A full 360! Then rolled right over again. A full 720 degrees!” as I demonstrated what happened with my cigar and drink.
The eyes following me rolled and rolled as well. Some straight back into the owner’s head and some to the left, some to the right…it was like ‘Loose Slots’ night in Vegas, they were rolling and rolling.
And then racing for the rails. Topside to deliver the remains of their hearty canned dinners.
“Beat you, Dax!” I smiled as I sat back down, “I got nine with that at one. And two of them were Coasties!”
“Did that really happen?” Ivan asked.
“According to my Brother-in-law. But he’s an engineer if you know what I mean…” I smiled.
We concluded story night as we had drifted free of the kelp forest and the Captain of the boat decided he’d risk an anchorage for the night. The weather was ameliorating, the seas calming themselves down, and the wind dropping a couple of notches on the Beaufort Scale.
“Well, gents”, I said, “I need some air. The aroma down here of Chinese Aplo™ for dinner, those who didn’t make it to the rails, and the solitary head for the entire crew has lost its charm. If you’ll excuse me”, I said as I grabbed a bottle of ersatz vodka, and several cans of Taedonggang beer, “I’ll be on the aft deck; in my comfy chair and contemplating the wonder of it all.”
With that, I ventured up the stairs and out onto the aft deck.
Dax naturally followed and he found his own not-bolted-down deck chair. We had a constant flow of visitors, foreign and nationals alike. It was shaping up to be a fine night for being out under the stars, there was no light pollution at all. We sat in our chairs, drank our drinks, smoked our smokes, and argued the finer points of astronomy as seen from this part of the world.
I had several side chats with the scientists and academicians from the Korean side. They all had one thing on their minds. Well, one thing after cigars and cigarettes. They wanted Western scientific journals. They were actually trying to bribe me to get those copies, any age, any subject; of Science, AAPG Explorer, and SEPM Proceedings, anything of Western science as it is today. I said they were welcome to a couple of copies of Science and SPE journals I had brought with as an afterthought, for free. With 900 won to the dollar, they needed every won they could get. I wasn’t about to take anything for the free dissemination of knowledge.
However, if they saw it fit to buy me a drink or seven, I wouldn’t object.
In reality, I’d buy those as well.
We made secret pacts to meet at the hotel-casino the night before we left, whenever the fuck that would be. We had a lot of work before us as it stands. It won’t be for a few weeks, I reminded them.
They had no problem. If I could ask the other in the team if they’d do likewise, the appreciation would be palpable.
Great. Now I have to go get my field notebooks and make some more new entries.
Dax cratered around 0100. I elected to stay the night and sleep under the stars as the boat slowly rocked one way and rolled the other. It was quiet, dark as a tomb, and brilliantly lit up by the stellar backbone of the night once the clouds fumbled out. Tomorrow looked as if it were to be bright and sunny if the gentle westerlies had anything to say about the next day’s conditions.
The next day dawned early, bright, and ridiculously sunny as it usually does when the monsoons have departed and it had stopped raining.
“OK.”, I thought, “Time for a hearty breakfast. For someone else. I wonder what’s available here.”
I ventured down to the cold galley and there were several boxes of dry Chinese breakfast cereal, “Shredded Tweet” and the like, some sort of obviously aged bakery, and a case of Taedonggang beer.
“Hmmm”, I mused out loud, “Beer and rice crispies. Breakfast of champions.”
Dax walks in, rubbing his eyes. He sees me drowning my rice cereal in foamy ersatz milk.
“Reminds me of field camp!” I smiled as I chowed on the morning’s offerings.
After our ‘hearty’ breakfast, all the scientific parties gathered in the main stateroom. It was cramped, but the walls were magnetic and we could hang maps, well, charts actually since we’re well offshore now, and plots the day’s course.
Out in the Yellow Sea, we were supposedly over a subsurface, and by dint of being offshore, submarine, dome. Salt dome? Unlikely. Probably more of a shale dome
, which isn’t a bad thing when hunting for oil and gas.
Looking at the charts, I ask the locals what our current position was relative to the domal uplift.
After several long moments of silence, I asked again.
“Umm, guys”, I said, “If you’re not going to be forthcoming with something as simple as positional data, then turn this boat 1800’s
and take us back to shore. I am fed up, as are my team, with this tight-holing of the simplest of data when you are the knotheads that asked us here for help. We get paid either way, and I for one wouldn’t mind being paid triple to sit in the hotel’s basement and drink”
After telling the translator to translate that last part literally, I sat back, pulled out a really nasty cigar, and went through all the threatening moves of firing it up in the enclosed cabin.
“You will have to excuse us”, came the reply from one of the elders, “We are not used to dealing with oegugseon
“Are you used to following orders?” I asked brusquely.
“Of course!” came the near-unanimous reply.
“Great. Then consider this an order: You will relay the appropriate information when asked by any Westerner on this cruise. Consider it as coming from the Supreme Leader of this expedition.” I noted.
Using the term ‘Supreme Leader’ was both a bow to their current bad-hair-cut in charge and my desire to let them know I was serious as a kick to the scrotum about the whole fucking deal.
There were a couple of gasps and some consternatious talk, but eventually, one brave soul got up, walked over to the chart, and pointed to our relative location.
“There”, I added, “That wasn’t so hard, was it? Didn’t hurt in the least, did it?”
There were a few chuckles amongst our national colleagues, so I figured that was at least a little progress.
“OK, then”, I continued, “Volna? Ack? You’re up to bat.”
I turned the proceedings over to the geophysicists. They would devise the configuration of the towed array, our speed, direction, charge size, which was based on depth, and all the other geophysical flips and twists one has to do in order to acquire the best data.
This shit doesn’t come cheap. The Mesozoic-Paleozoic marine residual basin in the South Yellow Sea where these domes live is a potentially significant deep potential hydrocarbon reservoir. However, the imaging of the deep prospecting target is quite challenging due to the specific seismic-geological conditions. In the Central and Wunansha Uplifts, the penetration of the seismic wavefield is limited by the shallow high-velocity layers (HVLs) and the weak reflections in the deep carbonate rocks. With the conventional marine seismic acquisition technique, the deep weak reflection is difficult to image and identify. We confirm through numerical simulation that the combination of multi-level impulse source (i.e., explosive) array and extended cable used in the seismic acquisition is crucial for improving the imaging quality.
With that, we’re going to be recording a minimum of four stacks, with a receiver interval of 25 meters. The array will have a shot interval of 50 meters, with a 25 meter near offset, and a 2500 meter far offset. We will attempt to record 180 channels, off-end, with a sampling period of 0.5 seconds, and a record length of 5 seconds. We’ll sail the same course 4 times to verify previous records and attempt to add ‘fold’, i.e., extra data from the same point, to the overall records.
That’s the plan, at least.
Loads of preparation, logistics, and execution.
After a half an hour or so, both Volna and Ack are finished with the national scientists.
They set down their notebooks, pens, notes, and pointers; walk out of the meeting room and directly over to the galley.
“Hungry, fellas?” I inquire.
“Rock?”, Ack asks, “You have explosives here, right? Sink us. Just fucking sink us right now.” As he pours himself and Volna a stiff shot of real vodka.
“Uh, oh. Problems in Dreamland?” I ask, utilizing the derogatory name for the geophysical domain of exploration data.
“Un-be-fucking-believable.”, Volna adds.
“Your colloquial American is coming along well, Volna.” I snickered a bit.
“I learn from you”, he spat, “Cannot believe this. They don’t record while underway. They tow single array and stop. Then drop dynamite over side. They record. Then they do it again. Claim this gives them good fold. This is bullshit. You said devise program. HA! Take us to shore and let me teach them the fucking basics of geophysical acquisition. Then in a few years, we come back and do it right.”
“Oh, fuck”, I reply, wincing, “That bad?”
“Oh, no”, Ack continues, “It’s worse.” As he down 100 milliliters of booze in one draught and pours another for Volna and is own self, “No on-board demultiplexing. No on-board pre-processing. No-onboard QA/QC. No on-board anything. It’s fucking hopeless. Sink us, I’d rather take my chances with the sharks.”
do all that stuff or they won’t
do all that stuff,” I asked, expecting the worst.
“Oh, it might
be possible, with this museum-grade crap they call a computer they have on-board. It’s just time-consuming, tricky, and will need constant attention. But with this raft of sad-sacks, flub-a-dubs and third rate hobbyists?” Ack and Volna agree as one.
“Consider it job security”, I replied, “How about this? One test loop and we use that data to do what’s necessary; just once. Then we can say we’ve shown them the way. After that, I’ll leave it up to the National scientists.”
“Good thing we have 2 full days, Rock”, Volna said, “Because we do a single AC (acquisition) run, it’ll take the rest of the time to show these buggers how it’s done.”
“Ack? You agree?” I asked.
Ack agreed, in spades.
“OK, gentlemen”, I said, “Let’s make it so. About time, too. I haven’t blown anything up in a couple of weeks. I’m getting antsy. Let’s go tell them the good news.”
“NO! WE REFUSE!” was the cheery response from the nationals when Ack, Volna, and I laid out the rather lengthy program for the next couple of days.
“OK. Someone tell the Captain to head for home. We’re done here.” I calmly told our handlers and the translators.
Panic in Pyongyang.
Immediately, there is this hue and cry about how this was not supposed to be how this trip was going to work. This was to be an acquisition trip only. This was to be a one-off to show Best Korea geophysical prowess. This was supposed to be data gathering trip on
the Western scientists…
That last one was a bit of a mistake.
I turn to one of the translators and ask them to re-translate that last part, just in case I was hearing imaginary things.
“Oh, yes”, he replied, “He said they were here to gather data on the Western Scientists as well as offshore data.”
“Is that a fact?” I reacted. “Please tell them I need to see all my team members on the fantail immediately if you would. Sorry, translators and nationals not included in this little meeting.”
We reconvene on the fantail a few minutes later. I walk in on this little conclave with cigar and drink in hand.
“OK, gents”, I say, puffing a huge blue cloud, swigging a tot, “Here’s what I think we, as responsible international scientists, should do in this regrettable situation. We were asked to come here, with provisions that we would not be under cynosure, observation, or surveillance. Given ‘Open and Free Access’, no questions asked. We were to be treated as “esteemed guests”. This is obviously a load of dingo’s kidneys. I think we need to get as creative as possible and do whatever we can to provide as much deliberate misinformation to these characters to annoy, amaze, or disgust them as much as possible. Comments?”
There’s a general buzz, but no real dissention. After a few moment's discussion, Dax suggests we get a load of XXXXL condoms, and leave them around packaged as “Texas Medium”.
“That’s the spirit”, I reply. “Anyone one else up for a little Psychological Operations on our not-so-clever-nor-truthful hosts?”
We all agree that we will, in our own little way, start a campaign of deliberate misinformation, misdirection, and general petty bullshit nastiness for our hosts to discover and by which be dismayed.
Everyone’s in agreement. This trip has been a rotund bale of jeers from the get-go.
Promises made, promises broken. Itineraries approved then inexplicably disapproved. We make requests, they accede; and then nothing ever happens. It’s most frustrating.
We’re tolerating a lot of horse, bull, cow, and assorted other farmyard excrements; all in the name of international harmony and scientific goodwill. This has been an outgoing one-way street for too long. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
“Hellfire and Dalmatians!” I growl, growing angrier every minute I think about the subject, “We need to take the high, low, and middle ground on this offensive. Nothing too overt or obvious; however we need to jank these bastards good. But they can’t realize they’re being janked…!”
Ack cuts in.
“The esteemed Dr. Rock is right. Psychotic...but absolutely right. We got to take these bastards. We could fight them with conventional weapons. That could take years...cost millions of lives. In this case... I think we have to go all out. I think this situation absolutely requires...a really futile and stupid gesture... be done on somebody's part.”
There’s a general buzz among the assembled.
“And we're just the guys to do it.”
Shouts and catcalls of deep agreement.
“Operation ‘Confound-a-Korean’” is now enacted.
“About fucking time!”
“Let’s do it!”
“Dissen gonna be bery messy! Me no watchin!”
“OK, I think, “Who’s the prequel-series wiseass?”
“OK, gentlemen”, I continue, “We continue with our scientific duties. No fucking around there. But, when it comes to…interpretation…opinion…or personal viewpoint; let’s go full impede. Dazzle them with brilliance or baffle them with bullshit.”
We all agree and after a couple of quick rounds of old thought provoker, we realize this trip has just taken a hard left into Wackyland. We will have to let our comrades onshore know of this, but that can wait until we return. Right now, we all have jobs to do. Real jobs, serious jobs, covert and sneaky jobs…
So, it’s back to the recording shack as we lay out the plans for the next couple of days.
Volna begins: “OK, listen up you primitive screwheads. We’re going to assemble and layout a recording array that’s called a Meisenheimer Triplet. You do know what a simple Meisenheimer Triplet is, don’t you?”
There’s a slight murmur from our national friends, but in the end, they all plead ignorance.
“Right. Thought so. A Meisenheimer Triplet is a central towed array flanked by two shorter, subparallel flanking sub-frammitz arrays. We will assemble this array on-board, even though it’s probably going to take every ounce of silver solder and electrician’s tape you’ve got. The amount of data received is orders of magnitude greater than any single Sheriff-sonde array, like the ones you been using.”
Suddenly, there are nods and murmurs of agreement.
“Right”, Volna smiles sinisterly to me, “With that, we’ll need to devise an explosive package, well, actually, a series of explosive packages based on the harmonia of the pre-bottom fore-sets, water depth, tow vehicle velocity, water column density, and decomposition coefficients of the said water column. Oh, yeah. Fish too.”
Volna is really getting into the spirit of the affair.
“Who is your explosives engineer?” Ack asks, “He’s going to have to do some serious number-crunching with all the pre-blast data we’ll need to supply. “
One quick translation and there’s nothing but long faces and querulous looks from our national crowd.
“We have no explosives engineer”, the head Best Korean geophysicist laments. “Explosives are very, very heavily regulated by the government. That’s why we have several Government Observers on board. They handle the explosives.”
“Oh?” Ack remarks, “Are they fully up to speed on the Barnard-Reichmann equations for hydro-displacement of serial charges? Which subset of the marine rarefication coefficients do they employ?”
“Ummm, don’t know.” was the answer.
“Don’t know? Well”, Volna continues, “Then, they must be pretty good with the Langefors-Kihlström formulae, right?”
“No. Not as such.” Came the response.
“I see”, Ack sighs, “Well, then, I guess they must utilize the Il’yushin algorithms then. OK, it’s a bit old school, but they should still work.”
“Ah. Well. No.” was the rejoinder they offered.
“Well, then what the fuck do they use?” Volna explodes, “A modified Ambraseys-Hendorn model? Ghosh-Damen 1? Ghosh-Damen 2? Indian Fargin Standard? Prejaculated Rai-Singh protocols, fer’ chrissake? Which?”
Nothing but shaking heads and wringing hands.
“They take a case of dynamite, wire it up, and throw it overboard with a long fuse.” Was the eventual answer. “That’s why we stop to record.”
Long, exasperated sigh later, “Jesus Q. Tapdancing Christ on a crème cracker. No wonder you never get anything done.” Volna continues, “You characters are in luck. You just happen to be so lucky to have an internationally-renowned Master Blaster right here on board ship today.”
Volna turns the crowd over to me, “Doctor? Do your damnedest. And good luck.”
“Thanks, Volna”, I say, cigar in one hand, stalwart drink in the other, “OK, guys. Here’s the deal. When it comes to explosives and explosive design, I’m the hookin’ bull. No one
has authority over me. Not the Captain. Not the boson’s mate. Not the Captain’s Consort even. Nor the guys in the cheap shiny suits. What I say, goes. No exceptions. No hesitation. We green
or are we going back to shore?”
?” they ask.
’. Green. Are we understanding one another? Are we all in agreement? Are you fuckin’ diggin’ me, Beaumont?
There’s some quick back and forth in Korean, a lot of seeming bad noise. Even the shiny suit squad and Coasties join in the fun.
“Grudgingly, we agree. Green
as you say, Doctor Rock. You are the one in charge.” Came the head national’s reply.
“Splendid. I’m in charge of the charges.” I chuckle, puffing an enormous cloud of expensive Oscuro smoke, “Volna, Ack; please get me the required parameters. I’ll be in the ordnance locker to see what we’re working with here. C’mon fellas, chop-chop!”
Volna and Ack take their select set of geophysical wishers and wannabes while I get the rest of the locals, the shiny suit squad in reserve, but in tow.
I head off to the ordinance locker.
Dax runs behind “Hey! Wait for me.”
“We have to”, I snigger a reply, “We’re going to need a drinks runner.”
“Marvelous…” was the one-word response.
We get to the locked ordinance locker. It’s one of the few original structures remaining on the ship. The boat was torn down almost to the waterline and re-built for seismic acquisition, but they had enough brains to realize that the source of the seismic signals was usually explosive in nature. Dinoseis and Mini-Sossie were closed books to them.
Therefore, the locker remained intact, however grudgingly.
“Whew! And what a locker.” I whewed. “And what a lock. OK, who’s got the keys?”
There are general hemming and hawing and no one seems to know where the keys for the ordinance locker are kept.
“Well, gents”, I say, pointedly, “I would suggest that one or more of you toddle off and fucking find the goddamn keys or this will turn out to be a very short and unproductive trip, indeed.”
A while later, a bit longer than I personally care for, the boat’s Captain wanders up, all a-scowl and generally pissed-off looking.
“Who here needs the key to the explosives locker?” He asks in his Captainly, no-nonsense manner.
There’s more muttering and murmuring, but eventually, all fingers point toward me.
The Captain looks at me.
He’s giving me the once over with a LASER stink eye. I don’t know which irritated him the most; the lit cigar, the drink, the Stetson, Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, Scottish knee socks or field boots.
“And who the hell are you”? He asks, oh, so wrongly, through an interpreter.
I stand up, fully puffed to full mammalian threat posture and say in a loud steady voice;
“I’m THE Doctor Rocknocker, the MOTHERFUCKING PRO FROM DOVER
!, that’s who.”
Since I had a good 6 inches and way too many kilos on him; my loud, American and very un-oriental answer took him completely by surprise.
His eyes got as big as dinner plates and he shakily held out the ring of keys for the explosives locker.
“Why thank you very much”, I said, bowing in his direction ever so slightly. Wasn’t his fault he wasn’t totally clued in on all
the recent goings-on aboard his vessel.
I toss the keys to Dax, “Here, earn your keep.” I snickered.
Dax deftly fields the keys, chuckles back, and begins the game of ‘which key for which lock’?
I thank the Captain and explain that I’m the de facto
leader of this special education class, and make some pointed, mild epitaphs about landlubbers, national scientists, and the cargo of the totally clueless on board.
He sees I’m not a total boor and relaxes some. We haven’t really had a real introduction, so I grab a translator and engage the Captain in a short, though insightful conversation.
Cigars were exchanged. Handshakes were as well.
Seems he’s just as aggravated by these know-it-alls who really know-fuck-all. We see eye to eye and part friends once Dax finally figures out the combination to the weapons locker.
“Holy fuck!” I exclaim, “Now that’s
a door.” I say looking at the slowly-opening covering of the weapon’s portico. Fully five solid inches of solid steel. Triple reinforced hinges. Deadman's latches. Bringles-jams and solid, non-decabulated cast-steel cross-members.
Just the thing to contain an errant blast and send all that excess energy skyward instead of into the bowels of the boat.
OK, bonus points for that design feature.
I look inside, but it’s dark and fragrant as the inside of an irritated oyster in the bottom of the Tonga-Kermadec Trench.
Dax fumbles around and finds the light switch.
“Hmmm.” I hmmed. “Well, we’re all set for dynamite, I see.”
Case after case after case of leaking, cheap-ass Chinese knock-off sort-of Du Pont-style 50% dynamite. Box after box of Pseudo-Dyno-Nobel blasting caps. Delaminating, unwinding spools after spool of “PrimUcord”. Sticky “Korea” brand silk-woven coated Demolition Wire.
“Gads.” I sigh. “What a nightmare. Either this stuff goes off when you give it a dirty look or it doesn’t go off at all.”
Dax looks to me, “So, the trip’s a bust. Is that what you’re saying?”
“If we don’t find something that’ll work, probably,” I reply. “This shit’s worthless.”
We continue to search after I shoo everyone but Dax out of the locker. It’s damp and musty in here, smelling disconcertingly of kerosene, gherkins, and old sardines. That’s one sure sign of dynamite going bad. I warn Dax to be extra careful, that this stuff hasn’t had the best of handling. We could be in for an unexpected surprise.
So, we redouble our efforts and are much more circumspect.
Knock-off this and fake-ass that.
All Chinese in origin. It might have worked one day; but after sitting in here, unattended, unturned, and uncared for? I’m ready to both literally and figuratively pull the plug on this whole fiasco.
Dax is all smiles.
“Doctor?” Dax asks, “What is it that would make you happy?”
“A nice fishing boat, a huge never-emptying bank account, endless cigars, and a comfy chair back in the north of Baja Canada in a tavern on a good fishing lake,” I replied.
“Well”, Dax smiles, “I can’t do that, but how about this?” as he opens a cleverly hidden door.
I look in, let my eyes adjust to the low-light scenario to see no lakes, no huge bank accounts, nor fishing boats; but what I do see makes me smile wide.
It’s a sub-locker full of familiar Made-in-the-USA, True Blue, American-manufacture cyclo-trimethylene-tri-nitramine
, or Good Ol’ C-4 explosive. Block after lovely hexahedral block of the stuff.
“Dax”, I say, “Take a gold star out of petty cash. You’ve just saved the mission.”
“I’ll settle for a tall vodka and one of your cigars”, Dax smiles.
“Later”, I say, “We now have a little job which to attend.”
With C-4, designing the impulse charges is seriously a walk in the park. They’re already waterproof, so all I need is water depth and the number of seconds to which they want to record data. I can bundle a series of blocks of the stuff, charge them with a couple-three or four, just in case, blasting caps, and connect them with stout lengths of demolition wire. These will be dragged, with a ‘Herring Dodger’, to control depth, behind the boat as we are underway
It’s a novel idea, I know. One that’s only been in use in the west for about 60 years.
We’ll drag a daisy chain of C-4 packets. One after another, individual charges in the packets will detonate milliseconds apart. I can bundle the packets so that we can run a charge string of up to 12 discrete packets which will attenuate the amplification of the arrhythmic flux, I tell one of my Korean onlookers.
With this set-up, we can record data for literally sea-miles.
First, we will moosh
the C-4 into a flattened, semi-hydrodynamically stable pancake or airfoil, OK, hydrofoil, shape; wire three or five of them together, charge them, then repeat.
Depending on what parameters Volna and Ack supply, the chain will just be a number of similar packets, trailing one after the other, detonating from back to front; down below the hydrophones, but well above the seafloor.
We know that the hydrophones will be at or very near the surface, but we need to know, explicitly, the basal bathymetry of the area we're about to shoot. Wouldn’t do anyone any good if we drove over a seafloor hump and dragged the C-4 over it to have it detonate prematurely.
Or not at all.
So, we need to plot our course and sail it today while we get the hydrophone arrays built and we image the seafloor where we’re going to do some blasting. After that, it’ll probably be an all-nighter to create the blasting strings so we can spend the next day recording, and then head for home as we’re nearly out of victuals and potables.
At least, that’s the plan.
I convene a quick meeting and we plot a course on the latest charts. 30 kilometers of recording.
Shit, that’s going to be a lot of explosives. Doable, but a pain.
Remembering the quality of the recording equipment, I suggest we do a test run in the morning of just 5 kilometers. If that works, and we can up it in increments.
Dax, Sagong the head Korean geophysicist, and I go to visit the Captain.
We visit the Captain and lay out our plans. He has no objections, as were in Best Korean waters and there are no obstacles out here like sunken wrecks, kelp forests, American aircraft carriers, or other impediments.
With that, we tell him to align the ship and let us know when he can begin doing the recon sortie.
He says that he can do that immediately, and before we're out of the pilothouse, we’re recording bathymetric, i.e., depth, data. The technology’s not much different, nor advanced, than a standard Lake Winnebago fish finder, so that’s one disaster sorted.
We are sailing along in a series of parallel straight lines, which when the data are played back and deconvoluted, will give us a good idea of the bathymetry which we’ve been motoring over. It’ll basically give us both a depth map and a surface, ok, bottom, map of the seafloor above which we’re sailing. A little basic submarine hyperbolic quantum trigonometry and well, we have the data we need to plug into the various equations to see what we’ll require when we want to record seismic data to 5000 milliseconds.
With that, there’s not much else to do until we have the survey map. I dragoon Dax and Cliff into helping me inventory the explosives bunker.
“The hell with the dynamite, PrimUcord, and other Oriental-Knockoff Horseshit”, I instruct my helpers, “Let’s just count up the C-4, and see what our tally is. Oh, yeah, give me a tally of the blasting caps. Gotta use those ratty bastards, they’re the only actuators here I sort of, kind of, trust.”
With Dax, myself, and Cliff, we’re done in less than an hour. I decide that I’ll be the keeper of the keys and take them back to the Captain my own self. Rules of engagements, chain of command and all that hogwash.
I hand the keys over to the Captain and instruct the co-pilot to make an entry in the logbook that I returned the key to the Captain, this date, this time.
“By the book. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.” I muse. To be continued
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