Friday, December 28, 2012

Ready Test Go

Xplore has maybe been silent from news in the last two months, but we have certainly not be dormant.

Late in October just prior to leaving Valdivia in Chile I happened by chance to meet a commercial diver who visited Xplore as he was an interested sailor and wanting to buy some parts that we had no more use for.

In conversation as we drove into town, I asked what type of work he did, diving on industry pipe lines, inspections and.............. hydrographic surveys there in Chile.

Within the short 15 minute drive I couldn't stop asking him questions about the type of gear that they were using and his experience, like a kid in a lolly shop stuffing his face full of sweets, I couldn't get enough information or ask the questions fast enough.

We ended the drive in town, and I had explained what I had been trying to organize for over 3 years, but which was a dream and a plan that I had carried for more than 10 years, and that was to mount a private hydrographic survey in Antarctica.

Since late October we have been busy, too much so, but with good reason, we have just departed Ushuaia in Argentina, and we are heading for Antarctica. On board Xplore we have 8 people and some very special equipment, and we are going to go to Antarctica to survey.

The project is an initial test to see if a little old sailing boat called Xplore can do what the big boys of the hydrographic industry do, and that is to data collect and produce an accurate survey of the ocean sea floor using the latest in modern hydrographic survey equipment. This is a world first, not just in Antarctica, but truly in the world, because no one has ever hung $280,000 dollars worth of high tech equipment off the bow of a sailing yacht and been treated with credibility.

We have with us some very clever people, Fernando who is the Chilean hydrographic company who we have teamed up with, but also Yoann who is from France is is a certified naval hydrographer who has been loaned to us to from Shom (France's hydrographic agency) who will qualify and certify that the survey work that we will do meets the highest of international standards in hydrography as set down by the IHO.

We have carried out sea trials and calibration testing whilst here in Ushuaia and everything seems to all go, the support of many countries within the hydrographic community has been great, Shom there in France, NZ,
Australia and UK, along with some great help from a good captain and friend on National Geographic Explorer we feel that we as prepared as ever we will be.

We are all excited, and just a little bit nervous about the project, we all want to do something very special here, and to prove that it is possible, because survey work in Antarctica is needed, only 2 % of the Antarctic coast line is currently surveyed.

To have a dream that you see through to fruition is going to be for me very sweet and satisfying, even though over the last 3 years many many doors have been closed and I have been told so many times that it is ridiculous to think that a small sailing yacht can do what the navy's and commercial hydrographic ship of the world get employed to do.

Time will tell ?

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