Planning for the cruise began in earnest in June, 1998. Meetings were held between the scientists and engineers to discuss the strategy for surveying and sampling the Puna Ridge: the order in which the instruments would be used, the track lines for towing each of the instruments, the targets for rock sampling, how watchstanding would be set up at sea, and how the data would be displayed and analyzed at sea.
Lists of supplies were made, and included basic items such as pens, pencils, plotter paper, and others things such as scientific articles and software manuals. Once the ship leaves the dock it is impossible to get these things.
Our supplies and computers were shipped to Honolulu a week before the cruise started. Dredges, the rock corer, and extra transponders were shipped to Seattle to be put on board the R/V Thompson at the end of August. By shipping these items to Seattle we were able to save money by taking advantage of shipments that were already going there.
A lot of people are needed to go to sea because the ship operates 24 hours a day and people need to sleep. Sometimes, prior commitments do not allow people to be away for such a long period of time; we will be at sea for 36 days. This means that people need to be contacted as early as possible in order to plan their schedules. There are always last minute changes as unexpected situations arise.
For the web-based educational component to our cruise, we began preparations in early June by contacting people involved with Hawaii's Department of Education Electronic School (DOE E-school). Hawaii's E-school provides Internet-based high school courses for credit, and we thought that this would be the perfect avenue for creating an educational experience for the schools using our Puna Ridge data. Throughout the summer and fall, we worked with three DOE E-school teachers to weave our Science Factoids and Learning Activities into content and media useful for teaching. These components of the web page were completed prior to sailing. As a further opportunity for scientific enrichment, we are hosting four teachers on our cruise. They are active participants and part of our scientific party. And, they are also planning to create mini-lessons so that they can teach at sea! We will publish their Learning Activities just like we do our Daily Flashes. This is perhaps the ultimate application for distance learning, short of being on the Space Shuttle. The teachers will be communicating by cellular modem from ship to shore and then onto the Internet to their students!