Alongside Lake Butler Marina, Robe
Over the last couple of days, Sylph’s crew have settled into Robe exploring the immediate environs and getting to know some of the locals. The Australia day weekend saw the small township’s population swell from its usual 1500 residents to something like 15,000 (or so we were told) and certainly it was amazing to experience the change in atmosphere from the hub of activity in the main street on Monday afternoon to the quiet and deserted streets that same evening after all the tourists had left.
I have previously alluded to an environmental project that Sylph will be undertaking out of Robe for most of the month of February. Our primary objective is to survey the cetacean populations in the region. Secondly, we are planning to undertake a couple of citizen science projects as well.
One of them is simply measuring the opacity of the water column with a device known as a Secchi disc – a circular plate that is 30 cm in diameter and painted matt white (I made it out of an offcut of aluminium from Sylph’s cockpit modifications). This disc is lowered when offshore until the disc disappears from view and the depth is recorded. When clear of the coast the depth apparently is a good indication of the amount of phytoplankton that is present.
The second project is trawling for microplastics. I am in the process of making a device called a LADI (Low-tech Aquatic Debris Instrument). This device trails a very fine net on the surface of the water behind the boat to collect samples of debris that are floating on the sea’s surface. The idea is to tow the device for a period then recover samples from its net for analysis. It will be interesting to see if we are able to add any meaningful data to what is known about the amount of plastic that is present in the waters offshore of South Australia.
But it is not all work. Last night Kate and I went to the local cinema to watch ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which, while some critics have criticised it as being biased and inaccurate, it was nonetheless entertaining and enjoyable to watch and especially to listen to the classic Queen songs. And each afternoon we have taken to going for a swim from the beach in front of the yacht club. In all, very pleasant.
All is well.