The last couple of days we have been slowly getting into action. First we did a test station were all of the gear was put into the water. This allowed testing both the equipment and the people handling them. Most of the gear seemed to be working well until we started testing the RMT’s. First was the RMT 25 which is supposed to catch fish. This net is composed out of two net that can be opened remotely. Although, that’s how it should be… When we tested the release mechanism nothing happened. Then it was decided to test the RMT 8 which is more suited for catching krill. Initially this release mechanism failed as well… But soon we found out that it was a technical miscommunication and we got it working. So hopes went up for the RMT 25 but the second test was also unsuccessful. So it was back to the workshop were peter would have a look at it.
Anyhow by the next day everything got sorted out. Apparently it was a tripped display of Murphy’s law: pushing the wrong button, clogged gears and bad electrical wiring. So we were finally able to sort out our first catch which was dominated by salps. By the afternoon today we arrived at our fist official station and we are now changing to night shifts as this is the best time to catch fish. Although the first CTD’s were deployed successfully weather has been picking up making further sampling quite difficult. So hopefully it will slow down by tomorrow night so that we can get our first proper tow in.
It may be our first day out as sea, but foremost it is meeting day. The first meeting was at 9.00 with the krill team in order to get everybody up and running: Who needs what amount of krill and in what condition (apparently there are lively, near dead, recently deceased and decomposed). After this meeting it was time for the second emergency drill. We all had to go up to the muster station with warm clothing, survival gear and a life jacket. Luckily we didn’t have to put on all of it (especially the flotation suit, which is not only a hassle to put on but also and instant steam bath). Dressed with our life jacket we had to go into the cozy survival boats.
Thanks to the good weather everybody managed to get in and keep their food in as well. After the muster it was time for the fish people to come together to explain how the RMT’s work, especially the 25. In any case I am looking forward to pulling this huge net out the water, it will be a great difference in comparison to the RMT 8 that was used on my previous campaigns. After lunch came an isotopes meeting, which wasn’t mandatory for me but it was quite interesting nevertheless. The final meeting of the day was less mind-bogging: An hour in the gym together with José. We both hope to motivate each other to keep on doing daily exercises on the ship. We’ll have to see what happens in that regard. Tomorrow we will arrive at the test station. Here all of the equipment will be tested for use and give new people on board some time to get used to them. More later…
If we had good weather the first day it changed soon. The wind picked up considerably and we were struck by the occasional shower. At last weather that one would expect at the Falklands. Yesterday was al about unpacking gear and lab equipment, or not entirely. Sophie, Peter, David and Min crew who arrived early did such a good job bringing all the big stuff in order that there wasn’t much heavy work left to do. So after venturing onto a fruitless quest around the ship searching for people in need of help, I decided make the best of doing some computer work and tidying in our cabin. Because of all the good work and slowly improving weather we could actually manage to depart earlier than scheduled.
This morning we all received the news that shore leave would end at 16.00 and that we would depart at 17.00 (all in local time). As the ship inched away from the dock the scientist made their way to the top of the ship, the monkey island. Sailing out of the bay we said our goodbyes to Stanley and the Falklands. Not sooner did we leave the shelter bay of Stanley or we would be greeted by the first wildlife. Around the ship little puffs would appear, a tell tale sing of whales, in this case most likely Sei whales. Although it was hard to tell as they never came close enough to identify them with absolute certainty. As we started upon the open water one jut came close enough for a positive identification. Sei whale after all! In the evening there was a short get together for a birthday. Nevertheless everybody went to bed quite early, to be gently rocked asleep by the ship.
After a series of circumventions with time spent in various vehicles the Falklands have finally been reached: Trains (3,5 hours) buses (3 hours) airplanes (18 hours). Since we just arrived we just have to do personal stuff: getting our stuff to our cabins and getting everything stowed away. However there were more urgent matters at hand: going for a walk. The weather upon arrival was just great 20°C and no wind. After being stuck inside it was great to have the chance to get out and stretch out legs. Soon we were a group of seven, Gabi, Hugh, José, Sebastian, Daria, Ruth and I.
The first destination was Gypsy Cove. On the way we passed one of the postcard marks of the Falklands: an old ship hat ran aground in the same bay were the JCR is docked. This is a beautiful area with large colony of Magellan penguins. These little guys actually live on beach were supposedly there still could be landmines left from the Falkland conflict. As a positive side effect this provides these penguins with a perfect sanctuary: nobody would ever dare to walk out on their beach. Anyhow I’ll let the picture speak for them selves.
One day left before I’ll go north in order to go South. I must be honest in all the rush of submitting proposals and papers I haven’t had much time to think about the upcoming campaign. So this week was filled with packing and trying to find all the much needed equipment. Anyhow I should be ready to go now. Tomorrow I’ll be going to Cambridge (where the BAS is located). I will stay with some colleagues an we will all depart on Sunday. A flight will take us to the Falklands where we will board the RRS James Clark Ross. For me this is a new ship and a new group of people I’ll be working with on-board. So everything will be quite new and I’ll just have to go with the flow. Nevertheless I’ve already met some of the people on-board on various workshops and conferences. For the third time (out of four) I will be sharing my cabin with a German scientist, so that seems to become a tradition. Anyhow I hope I will be able to tell much more once we sail off.