Results

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 launch.

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 range.

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.