R/V Thomas G. Thompson
Photo Album
Saturday Morning - Rendezvous

By Larry Gaddis

Oct. 4, 1998. Saturday marked the end of Iris Clyne's adventure and the beginning of ours aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson.  A 4:00 a.m. wake-up call  enabled us to catch the first plane to Hilo and meet the scientists who were also joining the expedition.  Our schedule called for us launch the shuttle boat at 8:00 a.m. at Issac Hale Beach Park boat ramp where the the R/V Thompson was waiting nearby to offload departing crew members and allow us to board.

Bob and Eric
Eric Bergmanis, geologist, and Bob Golden, educator meet at Hilo Airport.

The planned rendezvous was not to be, however.  Waves breaking across the channel at Issac Hale Beach park attracted many surfers but discouraged the few boaters hoping to launch there.   It took only a brief conference with resident fisherman to conclude that launching here was too dangerous.

Surfs Up
Eager surfers tackle the waves at Issac Hale Beach Park

So we contacted the ship and formed a new plan to launch the shuttle at Hilo, head towards each other and rendezvous as quickly as possible.

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Captain Bud launches our shuttle to the R/V Thompson

Once we cleared the Hilo Harbor breakwater, the winds were blowing 15 to 20 knots and generating 4 to 8 foot seas.  We could make 7 or 8 knots at best, so Captain Bud decided we might as well troll and perhaps catch something to offset the poor luck we had experienced so far.  Apparently fortune favors the brave because soon thereafter a loud scream from the port side reel announced that a fish had struck.

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Geologist Frank Trusdell at battle.


Capt. Bud Welcome Ono
Captain Bud welcomes 30 pound Ono

With the fish safely stowed, we proceeded towards our rendezvous point and soon the R/V Thompson appeared on the horizon.  As we came up along side of her, we could see that transferring people and baggage between the two vessels in these rough seas wouldn't be easy.

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The R/V Thompson looms above us as we reach for the rope ladder.

The heavy seas caused more than a few anxious moments as we attempted to draw close enough to the huge ship to grasp the rope ladder.  We needed to maneuver the boat close enough for us to reach the ladder and still avoid being smashed between the two vessels by the surge.  After several close encounters, we managed to transfer all people and baggage and the rendezvous was complete.