22 November 2008

Upon the Sea

22 November …

Today I left supervision of the construction up to my two sergeants, as the RTS Santa Fe will be headed home on Monday and Chief O’Malley is wanting to test out the steam-powered whale boat on the Venusian Sea. With Spot the Triceratops' help we were able to pull the boat to the sea with little effort. Once we launched the boat it was strange setting out on the water as this sea has clear water like the Caribbean Sea on Earth.

The crew for today’s adventure was Chief O’Malley, two petty officers and myself. We made sure we had plenty of wood to burn, as we would not want to be without power and I do not want to test my sailing skills with the small mast on a planet and ocean we have just touched the surface of exploration. We traveled up and down the coastline for most of the day, keeping the shore in plain sight. It was amazing as the floor of the sea was only a fathom or so deep for a good 500 feet offshore, and then the sea floor just disappeared to an unknown depth - our lead line found no bottom with 30 fathom of line. We saw countless fish swimming in the shallow reef area before the bottom disappeared, and Chief O’Malley caught two Venusian pink flounder, though he almost got stung by the barb of the first fish he pulled in. I made sure he knew to cut off the barb, as we did not want to take a chance of getting hit. Further offshore, we saw spouts of water shoot up from the ocean surface just as a whale on Earth would produce. We were all kind of hesitant to investigate the spots, as we saw many long shadows under the boat and some were at least as big as the boat. We turned back towards shore and made some rough sketches of the coastline. We were relieved to be back over the shallow coral bed floor as we caught five more flounder.

The officers were once again at the temple with the scientists, and Mr. Griggs said they still have found no writing but the professors have been measuring and drawing the whole temple area. The drizzling rain stayed with us all day as we have become accustomed to.

On the construction side, we will have to plan on building a perimeter wall with four towers and a heliograph tower to communicate as the landing area will be almost a mile away from Fort Humid. Not that we are in a rush, as it will be another month until the Army battalion is at full strength and are able to rotate a company through the landing area as security. We will also have to venture north at sometime into the hilly area to see if we can find suitable rock formations for a quarry, to build the roads.

Well it is off to chow and I am ready for some fresh fish, potatoes and cooked Venusian greens.

[Editors Note: The steam-powered motor whale boat is the standard gig for a warship. A typical whale boat is 26 feet in length and has a 9 foot beam. This particular model has a small water tube boiler for propulsion and can achieve 6.5 knots. The water tube boiler is used in this instance to cut down on weight.]

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