One week after the successful surface mission we went back to the Bernard Field Station to run a dive test. Unfortunately, it was a little less successful as in we temporarily misplaced the Iver in the bottom of the lake. But don’t worry! It was, in fact, temporary.
The trip started off the same way. Jerry and Yukun joined us and we took the Iver across campus in the college’s van. However, this time we had an acoustic shark tracking tag and weights that we attached to the Iver to track it if we lost it and to allow it to dive.
We went out in the boat, got the Iver pointed in the right directions, and pressed go on the mission. It went out, dived as expected, and didn’t come up. After a panicked 10 minutes, Jerry, Yukun, and Nick headed back to campus to retrieve the hydrophone to listen for the tag and to pick up Nick’s snorkeling equipment. Akhil and I waited by the lake hoping the Iver would just pop up. It didn’t.
We tracked the Iver to a corner of the lake near its last turning point. It looked like it got stuck in the muddy overhang near the edge. Nick dived for it but couldn’t see it anywhere. The water was quite cold so we called Professor Clark and headed out. We made plans to go back the next day with Prof Clark, diving equipment, and a trained diver.
The next day, the crew went back all suited up and prepared to dive. However, they found the Iver floating on the surface of the lake on the opposite side. We’re still not sure if it was stuck over there or it just floated over. Either way, we got it back and learned a valuable lesson.
It seems as if the Iver got stuck as it was trying to turn. For the next time, we decided to run the same diving mission as a surface mission to check for simple errors such as the turning radius.
However, the surface mission didn’t help. The next weekend we went back out with Prof Clark and a modified mission. We loaded the surface mission, clicked go, and it dove. The Iver had too much weight on it and as it went forward, it dived. Sigh. This time Prof Clark went and got his wet suit and went in himself. We still weren’t able to see it so gave up for the day. The next day it was found the same way. It had floated to the surface except this time it was floating where we expected it to be.
Our new plan is drive the Iver manually to make sure it doesn’t automatically dive, run a surface version of the dive mission, and only then run the dive mission. We could also attach the buoy tether during the dive mission for extra security. Let’s hope it all goes smoothly in Costa Rica. Luckily the volcanic lakes in Costa Rica should have less muddy bottoms and edges than the Bernard Field Station.