Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 1

En route to Antarctica !
Our ship, the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Ernest Shackleton, sailed from Stanley, Falkland Islands, at 8 am. The sea is rather calm, with only a small swell making the ship roll a little bit, but nothing uncomfortable. We are sheltered from the rough Southern Ocean seas by the tip of South America, though, so soon (tonight or tomorrow) things can get quite worse. I hope I'll have enough time to adjust. Since my first time on a sailing boat when I was 7 years-old or so and got really sea sick, I have never been sea sick again. But with the particularly strong Southern Ocean seas, I don't know how my body will react...

We arrived yesterday evening, after 16 hours of flight from Brize Norton, a Royal Air Force airport in England, with a 1.5-hour stopover mid-way at Ascension Island for refueling. It was good to feel the warm and humid air there (it is just south of the equator), much like in Hawaii, after the cold England weather. The Falkland Islands were also warm (it is summer there) but very windy, and the plane was shaking, like when flying through turbulence, as we were landing. It was the roughest landing I ever had ! But I admired the pilot for being able to land in such a strong wind, which we received in our face when we got out of the plane. A mini-bus was waiting for us to take us to the ship, but half an hour down the road, she received a call and had to turn back to take somebody she had forgotten at the airport ! An hour and a half later, we finally arrived at the ship.
Despite our weariness, we had to listen to a safety lecture by the safety officer, who had a terrible accent from I don't know where yet, so I could understand only half of what he was saying ! I hope I did not miss some critical safety tips...

We all have our own cabin for now, but later we'll pick up about 30 persons at Halley and Signy Island bases and will have to share the rooms with them, as the ship will then be full ! There are ethernet connections in the cabins, which is quite convenient, except that I left my ethernet cable at the University of East Anglia, because I had read that cables were provided on the ship. How stupid I am ! I could have taken it anyway, just in case, since it does not weight anything. It turns out that there are no ethernet cables in the cabins, so I had to ask the IT technician for one, and he grinned and said: "I'll see if I can find one". Luckily he found one, but added: "Please give it back to me when you are done with it." Which means I cannot keep it for me for the whole trip. Damn !...

The night was pretty good since the ship was not moving at all in the harbor.
Breakfast at 7:45 am, fire and abandon ship drill at 10:30 am, lunch at noon, scientific briefing at 2 pm, and now resting time. We'll start unpacking and preparing the instruments tomorrow. We have about 6 days before reaching the location where we will deploy our instruments, next to the ice shelves at 12 degrees west, upstream of the Weddell Sea. This is plenty of time, but not to be wasted anyway.


  1. hi cedric,

    FYI, planchemag devoted an article to windsurfing in the Falkland Islands. Pictures looked pretty epic! aloha,thomas

  2. Good start! I had a good laugh with your comment about the guy's accent! Too bad we cannot send you an ethernet cable...

  3. Have a good and safe trip Cedric. We will wait impatiently for your updates. Once in Antarctica, don't fight with penguins.

  4. Hi Cedric
    Nice to know you are here for this fantastic trip.
    I will wait for more news and pictures. Hope it is not too cold! Aloha, Pap's

  5. Hi Cedric,

    Enjoy your stay down South ! See you later in the UK with your whole family !
    Cheers, é&s