Expeditions Are Like Tar Pits

Expeditions are amazing and exciting projects that capture the imagination of scientists and laypeople the world over. They promise tales of daring and survival and of new discoveries and confirmation of creatures.

Getting ready for an expedition, though, is like being a mastodon accidentally slipping into a tar pit. You struggle for a while, and then drown in sticky goo. Several million years later your remains are found: clutching your gear lists to your chest.

So what does it really take to go on an expedition?

It takes planning and preparation. So easy to say. So simple to understand. Let me demonstrate some of the minutiae we must manage.

Let’s start with something easy. How about plane tickets for the HBA team? Easy right? Well, we had people flying from Brazil, UK, USA, Mexico and Colombia. They then needed domestic flights as well—and not everyone was meeting in the same city, at the same time.

And: bonus! After securing everyone’s international flights, we needed to delay. So then there was rescheduling flights. And accounting for oversize and overweight bags, because, gear and supplies and stuff for 4-months. AND not everyone leaves at the same time, so we had to plan various exit strategies.

It currently looks like this:

Here is an example of the level of detail we are talking about in terms of things we must have on the boat. This is shopping for food and supplies. This is only ONE of our many, many lists:

There are the people who help us along the way. Lisley and I were in Cruzeiro and needed to print and bind a document to give to the military about our project (the Brazilian military is donating gear, boat engines, a boat and emergency services, including a helicopter medevac if we need it!).

This poor guy had to hand-bind the document, but first he had to find the right spiral binder!

AND – then there is the gear for research and living. Shayna and I worked on packing and ordering all of the electronics and gear – and we are taking the limit with us on the plane: 5 trunks, 70lbs -- each!


It is the old saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

13 gear.JPG

This elephant is almost out of the tar and into the water!