Our Journey Begins

We have now set sail and are heading towards our first station located to the north of the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone and west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We did not leave St John’s until early evening of the 26th as we had to take on fuel for the journey. While ewe were taking on fuel we were bunkered across the bay from St. John’s, providing us with an excellent opportunity to take photos of St. John’s to show friends and family when we get home. I enjoyed my short stay in St. John’s and found the local people to be very friendly and welcoming. However, I am happy to be leaving St John’s as it means all the hard work preparing for the cruise over the last few month has come together and we are now ready to begin the science. It will take us about 3 days to steam to the first station at a speed of about 10 knots so we still have time for any final preparations and to test our equipment prior to deployment. On leaving St John’s there was a slight swell as we left the sheltered waters of the harbour but the weather was looking good for our first day of cruise.

Prior to arriving at our first station it was decided to give the Isis Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) a test dive. This first dive of the Isis to a depth of about 500 m took place at about 15.30 on the 27th May. The ROV team have been working hard preparing and testing Isis prior to the dive and the test dive gives them the opportunity to identify and then resolve any problems arising before the first planned scientific dive. Like all technology there were some issues but we are hoping this should be resolved by the time we reach our first station. I am personally very excited about the potential capabilities of the Isis and it is the first time I have been involved in a project with the Isis.

When the Isis was being launched for the test dive a pod of five or six pilot whales surfaced a few hundred metres beyond the aft deck. This was my first sighting of whales during the cruise and I am hoping that it will not be my last . All ships create noise and it is likely that the whales were investigating what we were doing. I did have my camera with me at the time as I was photographing the launch of Isis but sadly the whales were to far away for me to photograph.

We have had intermittent access to the internet so far, making it difficult to keep in touch with the outside world and to update our blog. We will be doing our best to keep you all updated but at the moment it is unlikely we will be able to post any photographs. If the situation improves with internet access then we will definitely be sharing some photographs.

Mark Shields

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