Cape Town and Back

7 February, 2010

Well Cape Town has come and gone and we are we are entering the pack ice once again after a rather rough trip down.

Antarctic Blue
Antarctic Blue

Our trip North was largely uneventful and done in mostly sublime weather conditions. We timed it just right to go between the cold fronts and managed to avoid the worst of the sea conditions.

Minke Whales
Minke Whales

The Stay in Cape Town was very pleasant. Those lucky enough to get some time off managed to get around quite a bit with visits to Table Mountain, Wine Farms and the Kirstenbosch Gardens and of course the endless choice of Restaurants and watering holes in the Waterfront itself.

A few hardened Rugby fans on board managed to wangle an invite to the Home of SA Rugby – Newlands Stadium to watch a warm up game for the forthcoming Super –14 season. They were well looked after by their hosts.

Whilst  Cape Town we picked up three Norwegian scientific personnel and one from the UK for a research project that they will be running in the Weddell Sea.

There was quite a bit of work to do on board the ships whilst in port. Not least of all the replacement of a GPS Antenna array that had come adrift during some bad weather in the Channel earlier in the trip. This job required scaffolding to be erected above the conning tower to the highest point in the ship. Cables were and repairs made to the installation to hopefully avoid a re-occurrence of this in the future.

We departed on Thursday the 28th and headed out in good weather. Very soon though the Cape Rollers (huge swells) re-introduced to us the South Atlantic seas. The forecasts were not good and all the cold fronts we had missed on the way up were lining one after the other to make sure we paid our dues on the southward passage. For the next five days the weather was atrocious and we rolled and pitched our way headlong into the seas. The seasick pills and patches were in great demand from the Doctor. Finally as we headed into the sixties the weather calmed a bit. It is quite amazing to see the improvement in the general demeanour on board this has caused.

We encountered our first pack-ice on Sunday the 7th and started picking our way through. We are currently about one hundred and twenty miles from the Ice shelf heading due south. Once we reach the shelf we will follow the coast down towards Halley where the Norwegian Science project will commence.

In the Pack again
In the Pack again

Once the project is finished we will be heading for Halley to pick up personnel and the final back load  for the season.

Next Post:  More on the science

Words: P.O’Hara

Images P’O’Hara