Apologies for the radio silence dear readers! We have been making the most of having solid ground beneath our feet and have had little time to update you.
We arrived back into Punta Arenas on Tuesday morning and quickly availed ourselves of the numerous delights that access to land allows; fresh fruit and veg, shops and walks to name a few! Groups of us set off on various adventures out into the magnificent Patagonian wilderness, while others made the most of the relative luxury of this charming port town.
Sadly our call into port also meant some goodbyes. Katy and the VMP team packed up their stuff and waved us goodbye to take the broken VMP back to the UK for some much needed TLC. The ship just won't be the same without Katy, Alex, Paul and John, their lovely company will be sorely missed.
|The VMP-ers relax after all the hard work and wait for the flight home! Alex, Jon and Paul|
|Mike Meredith...we'll miss him!|
We were also sorry to have to bid Mike M farewell. Mike has been an invaluable member of the team, patiently training us for the work ahead and imparting some of his vast oceanographic wisdom. We all owe Mike a huge THANK YOU!
So what lies ahead? Leg two of the cruise will take us around the Scotia Sea, starting back down at the top of Drake Passage to complete the sampling we had to abandon due to the bad weather a week ago. This leg should only take a day or two, and after that we steam south east and towards the Weddell Sea. At this point we need everyone to keep their fingers crossed that the sea ice will not have encroached too far north and stop our work here. We are hoping to recover and redeploy some moorings. Moorings are clusters of oceanographic instruments, such as thermometers and current meters, which are attached to chains and held in place by a sturdy anchor at the sea bed and buoyant glass spheres just below the surface. We are nervously studying satellite images of the site, watching the sea ice creep ever closer and praying to the weather gods that the mooring site will stay ice free. After that be will begin another oceanographic section that tracks northwards from the Weddell Sea up towards South Georgia. Here we will be taking seawater samples for the DIMES tracer, CFCs and other halocarbons, carbon, alkalinity, nutrients and barium as well as taking the standard plethora of physical observations (ie temperature, salinity, conductivity, current speeds etc). After this section we will head west towards the Falkland Islands along the North Scotia Ridge with the cruise ending in Port Stanley at the end of April.
Check out our ship track animation for a route map (see link on the right)!
So keep tuned folks, more adventures lie ahead!
With Katy now back in blighty she will be taking up the role of 'UK correspondent'. Internet access from the ship is a little temperamental so we have been emailing our posts to Katy's mum to upload for us (thanks!) but now Katy will be taking on this vital role, as well as continuing to share her thoughts and experiences on the endeavour.