Saturday 12th June 2010

The word ‘cruise’ conjures up images of an elegant ship gliding across a calm sea against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. As we saw again today, scientific cruises are not always like that, even in what is supposed to be the summer. However, the day started out well with a successful megacore deployment, which returned 9 good sediment cores in the early hours. Mark, Debbie and Grant then spent most of the rest of the night on a cold, dark and windy deck at the back of the ship, slicing, sieving and preserving the cores, a task that I managed to avoid by pretending to do other things.

The intention had been to follow the megacorer with a dive, but the ROV was still being mended and the weather was deteriorating. The ship spent the morning and much of the afternoon rolling around in heavy seas. Even if you’ve been up for much of the night, sleeping in these conditions can be a challenge. As well as the ship’s motion, the tired seafarer has to cope with the stabilizing system, which makes a loud roaring noise as the ship rolls – at least it does under my cabin!

But today is Saturday and this has its compensations. At sea, you tend to lose track of the days, but there are two days of the week when you know where you are – Friday night we have fish for dinner and Saturday night is curry night, always a culinary highlight and always followed by cake. People often end up eating too much. And then, of course, there was England’s first world cup game. Small knots of people could be spotted huddled around radios, generally looking rather gloomy.

Not England’s greatest hour!

Not everybody is interested in football.

Despite these (often literal) ups and downs, the sea calmed down sufficiently by the evening to put the ROV, now fully overhauled, back into the water.  Unfortunately, the dive failed in its main purpose – to locate and recover the whale bone deployed two years ago. However, we did collect some interesting animals, including an intact specimen of the strange and much sought-after red worms (‘entropneusts’) that make regular spiral traces on the seafloor.

So, all in all, a varied day – starting with some nice cores, ending with an ROV dive, and with a gale, curry, cake, and a useless performance by England in the middle.

Andy Gooday

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