Openrov Deployed

OpenROV | Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico

$3,700/ £2,600
26 November – 4 December 2016

Depart: St. Thomas – BVI
Arrive: Spanish Virgins/Puerto Rico – St. Thomas
Length: 9 days 8 nights
Focus: Building and Using an ROV


Bioluminescent bays teeming with tiny neon-flashing animals. Colorful and little-known mesophotic coral reefs just out of range for recreational scuba diving. We’re building our own underwater robot to explore some of Puerto Rico’s most intriguing marine habitats!

We’ll build an OpenROV 2.8 kit while on anchor and in port, modifying to changing conditions and experimenting with add-ons like plankton tows or water samplers. Once the OpenROV is built, we’ll identify possible dive targets for visual surveys, and have an opportunity to exchange local habitat knowledge and compare ROVs with a student robotics group in Puerto Rico.

Sailing from the US Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico, we’ll snorkel and scuba along the way to get a baseline understanding of the coral reefs and help support existing citizen science projects. Using coral mapping and photo transects in shallower reefs, we’ll compare our observations from deeper reefs collected with OpenROV visual surveys.
With Sea Dragon as a perfect platform to launch, test and iterate on our OpenROV, we’re looking for students, citizen scientists, explorers, makers, programmers and anyone ready to set sail on a build-it-yourself ocean exploration expedition!

Activities (dependent on weather and adventure conditions):
– OpenROV build: soldering, acrylic welding, electronics, propulsion
– 3-D Coral Mapping techniques to add to The Hydrous global coral database
– Take measurements for Secchi Disk Study
– REEF fish surveys
– Scuba diving, snorkeling

Main photo credit: Patrick Webster

Imogen Nash – Skipper

To Imo it feels just as natural being in the water as out, a true water baby spending much of her upbringing by the water on the south coast of the UK. Growing up in small sailing dinghy’s and swimming competitively; she has now been working as a professional Skipper for the past 7 years. Covering many miles all over the world, focusing a lot in the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. Over these years she has built a huge passion for the world’s oceans, the environment and protecting nature.

Imogen is a crew member on her local RNLI LifeBoat and loves to spend her days in the ocean; diving, surfing & kite surfing she also has a true love for photography. Holding her MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Ocean, MCA/RYA Cruising instructor, MCA Ship’s Captain Medical & PADI Rescue Diver.

Harry Robinson – First Mate

Harry has grown up as a avid sailor starting off in the Sea Scouts on the South Coast of the UK. A true water man & a huge passion for engineering. Harry built a jeep at the age of 16 which took him and a couple of friends on a few surf trips throughout Europe. After getting a degree in Marine Engineering in 2008, Harry taught Design & Technology at a secondary school. Whilst at school & university, he volunteered his time at a Sail Training Organisation. Loving teaching but wanting to spread his knowledge further he decided to take up for sailing as a profession in 2010 so got his MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Ocean & MCA/RYA Cruising Instructor he also holds his MCA Ships Captain Medical and is now working towards his MCA Master 200.

Harry has a recently got a workshop on the south coast of the UK, restoring traditional boats & building bespoke wooden surfboards. He has covered many miles all over the world & built up an extensive knowledge and passion for environmental issues, his heart lies within the ocean; sailing, surfing & kitesurfing.


Thomas ‘Owen’ McMahon – Deckhand

Having started sailing with the family at the age of seven Tom has always loved being on the open water, whether as crew on yachts or just messing about in dinghies. Realising a life on land would never make him truly happy he began sailing professionally in 2010. After gaining a yachtmaster offshore he has gone on to work delivering yachts as well as spending years working on superyachts looking after not only the people on board but the boats too. Whilst enjoying this life at sea he realised that a better way to spend his time would be to help people to enjoy what he had done growing up. So now when not on Sea Dragon, Tom also teaches people how to sail as an IYT instructor, so that they can not only enjoy the sea and all it has to offer, but also learn from direct experience a sense of connection with the environment which can only be found on the ocean.

Samantha Wishnak – Mission Leader

Samantha studied political science once, but was lured back to ocean science by scuba diving and squid. She now spends her time on land as Digital Media Coordinator for Exploration Vessel Nautilus and co-hosts the independently-produced Ocean Science Radio podcast. When not underwater, she explores with OpenROVs and leads underwater robot building workshops around the world. A fervent marine science communicator, she also shared kelp forest curiosities and conservation with millions of visitors at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, sometimes online.

November 26: Crew arrives on board in St. Thomas, boat intros; Start OpenROV acrylic housing build
November 27: Motor to St. John’s, clear out customs, sail to West End, clear in, on dock at West End; continue OpenROV build and soldering on dock
November 28: Sail to Sandy Spit or Norman Island; Final OpenROV assembly, calibration
November 29: Depart early AM for Vieques, Arrive Vieques, clear customs/immigration; First OpenROV freshwater/saltwater tests
November 30: Sail to Puerto Mosquito Bioluminescent Bay; Start exploration with OpenROV
December 1: Explore Bio Bay or nearby reefs; shallow coral reef mapping
December 2: Identify and explore mesophotic reefs with OpenROV
December 3: Early AM departure for St.Thomas (STT), arrive STT, clear STT
December 4: Crew Departs from St. Thomas

*Itinerary subject to change based on weather and willingness to ‘say yes more’ to spontaneous possibilities 😉

Contribution Includes:
– 8 nights accommodation on Sea Dragon
– All meals, snacks and drinks on board
– Sailing Instruction
– Training and Education covered in the syllabus
– Safety equipment and foul weather gear

Contribution does not include:
– Transportation to from St Thomas
– Transportation to and from the boat
– Additional nights spent ashore
– Personal expenses while in port

For specific visa information visit