Back to Bell Island

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Thirty-five knot winds kept us off the boat today, but we took the opportunity to take new team members over to Bell Island to the mine. We met our dear friends Ed, Bernie and Bonnie and had some coffee and sandwiches before heading into the mine for a tour. We saw the plans for the new museum building which has just begun raising funds. They will need a lot of community support to reach their goal. They’re knitting hats, offering tours and working hard to find creative fundraising solutions.

It is hard to imagine the strength of the miners at Bell Island. They loaded 20 carts a day of 1.5 tons per cart before they were able to go home. On Fridays they tried to load 30 so they could go home early on Saturday and have one precious day at home before heading back to the mine Sunday night.

We had traditional fish and chips with dressing and gravy at Dick’s on the Wharf and then went off the road to the Grebe’s Nest to do some dry caving and exploring of the original mines that were cut at sea level. The rocks are a little treacherous and seeing tons of shale pancaked on top of ancient tram rails and machinery was a little sobering. In the distance we watched a grounded iceberg and hope we can dive it when the winds calm down.

It is good to be back here!

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If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

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Our project has had a bit of a setback this morning. Newfoundland has been experiencing record breaking rainfall and with unseasonal warmth, all the winter snow melted. The flood of water submerged some of the infrastructure in our dive staging area and meant final installation of our floating dock was not possible at the current water levels. Adjustments will be needed to improve the infrastructure, dock and staging area.

I’m having flashbacks to a project in 1995 in a deep canyon in the mountains of Central Mexico. We experienced mudslides that obliterated our camp and the cave resurgence we were exploring. We tried to build a dam to reroute the mud pouring into our cave. It seemed like a disaster. And yet, as we conspired to find way to deal with over 1000 feet of zero visibility, Dr. Bill Stone asked me to think much bigger. He said, “let’s find a way to map a cave we can’t even see.” That was the birth of the 3D Mapper. I was driving Dr. Stone’s mapper in Wakulla Springs a few years later. Great things come from adversity.

In the interim, mud and rain won’t slow down our expedition, but it does mean that we’ll be a little dirtier at the end of this. Hopefully water quality will improve as the rain abates. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

It’s all building a story where we triumph over difficulties!

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Build it and They Will Come!

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The Bell Island volunteer brigade has been continuing the back breaking work of preparing the diving area for the expedition team. The staging area is about complete and floating dock is being measured and will be installed within the next couple weeks. Heavy Duty benches for different equipment configurations are complete. 12 huge picnic tables have been installed for briefings. The boardwalk over the wet area is nearing completion. The stairway has been adjusted to walk over pipes. We’re getting close!

This area where divers enter the water is called cross section 23 on Pipe Shaft and our staging area/benches is on pillar 22. The picnic table will in the Room on cross section 22.

“Build it and they will come” :-)

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