Saturday 3rd July 2010

There had been much excitement onboard as we neared the Spanish coastline. After all it had been over 5 weeks since we last saw land.

On Friday evening the sea was flat calm and all around us there was evidence of the presence of whales from the fountain of water they exhaled from their blow holes. Eventually we got lucky and a pair of minke whales swam right in front of the James Cook and came within 50 metres of the vessel. We were all snapping like crazy with our cameras in the hope to capturinh an image of these magnificent animals.

Blow hole fountain

Minke whale

As the evening progressed we gathered on the starboard deck, enjoying our final sunset of the cruise and reflecting on the last few weeks at sea.  It was then that a pod of common dolphins appeared and began to leap and splash. It was a fitting end to the cruise.

When I awoke on the Saturday morning and looked out of the porthole I could see land for the first time. We were off the coast of Spain waiting for our pilot to navigate us into the port of Vigo. As we sailed into Vigo we passed the Cies Islands, a national nature reserve only 40 minutes by ferry from Vigo. We would later visit the islands on the Sunday.  

RRS James Cook docked in Vigo

Cies Island on our Sunday visit

Once we docked in Vigo we had to begin organising our gear to be lifted of the vessel by crane and loaded onto lorries destined for the UK.  After we had emptied all the laboratories we then had to clean them all, making sure that everything was left in the same clean and tidy state that we found it.  By late afternoon all our equipment was finished being unloaded and we were free to go and check into our hotels and explore Vigo. We did not really know what to expect from Vigo with it being a port town but everyone was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the countryside and city was. I went for a nice long walk enjoying the freedom of being back on land and the experience of exploring a new place.

Mark Shields

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