After we launched on November 23rd, 2009, the servo camera and fixed cameras were both
being used and controlled remotely for monitoring and recording performance. Data was
successfully logging, and transmitted remotely. From these cameras, we were able to
observe that the 450 watt turbine had begun spinning and generating power two days after
We lost the connection with the wind farmís computers at about 7:30 a.m. on
November 26th, 2009, and it was never recovered. At that time, the cameras were showing
relatively calm waters. Prior to losing the connection, the signal strength appeared
to be very weak, which was strange considering our anchored location was well within
We headed out to the site on December 6th, 2009 to retrieve the rig. It was about
20 degrees F with 3-4 foot waves, but mostly sunny, and we were hopeful that we would
find the rig undamaged by the elements. But when we arrived, the rig was gone, without
a trace. We patrolled the area by boat, and later from shore by car and on foot, but could spot
no visible signs of the rig or its hardware.
During a discussion with the Coast Guard (where it was made clear that we should have
notified them sooner of any lost communication with the rig!) we learned that there were
22 foot waves during Thanksgiving weekend. The Project Mustard Seed wind farm had only
been designed to withstand waves up to 14 feet. To put this in perspective, the Coast
Guard explained that during the Thanksgiving weekend, a large intake Crib buoy with a
steel chain anchor line broke free and drifted out to Buffalo, New York. During its
regular patrols, the Coast Guard found no rig or any components anywhere along the
shoreline between Sandusky, Ohio and Niagara, New York.
All told, two out of the three main objectives of Project Mustard Seed were successful.