The first 24-hour period after Jim’s 7-hour dive to 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) is filled with intensive debriefing sessions in which the technical and operational truths of the dive are revealed.
Today, Jim spent six hours at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters). Guided by his intuition and headings called down from the communications team on the ship, he travelled three miles (five kilometers) over the seafloor and made separate rendezvous with the two landers, Mike and Andrew.
Another test dive was to begin after sunset. When Jim walked into the sub hanger at 2 p.m. to start the predive checklist, the Academy Awards were underway in Los Angeles.
Yesterday we got a look at the first wristwatch that keeps time at over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).
“It’s a lot like our new sub,” said operations manager Dave Wotherspoon with a laugh. “It’s got a viewport, a penetrator plate, and a pressure-resistant ‘sphere’ to protect its ‘instruments.’”
This morning, Captain Stuart Buckle eased the 2,000-ton Mermaid Sapphire to within 400 yards (366 meters) of the Cape Jaquinot shore. The ship was so close we could see the trunks of big trees, the smoke of a cook fire, and the blue shadows of the coral reef.