After the exhausting deployment marathon, I woke up at 5:30 am the next morning, the breakfast time, in case we would be deploying the last mooring. But there was too much sea ice and it had been decided during the night to postpone the deployment for the way back. I could have slept longer ! At lunch I learned that we were going to start taking 12-hour watches every day for CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) stations and other mooring work. I was to take part in the night watch, from midnight to noon. So I went back to bed after lunch, and slept until the evening. When I woke up, the ship was stopping along the ice shelf, at a location where the shelf was low enough to be able to transfer people from the ship onto the ice. This is from where we will go visit the Halley base later during the cruise.
The only sign on man's presence in this wild landscape:
Then we sailed away to go retrieve a mooring that had been deployed two years earlier. The contrast of surface color between the ship wake and its surroundings is due to the presence of small pebbles of ice in the water.
Finally, we went past the ice shelf and saw the Antarctic continent, covered in ice. Much of the continent is like that, a smooth mass of ice. Only in a few locations do mountains emerge from the ice.
The mooring recovery ended up being tricky. The release mechanism was triggered and sent the signal that it had released, but the mooring remained anchored on the bottom ! We therefore decided to drop two lines from the stern and the bow of the ship, with an additional line in between, that we dragged laterally over the bottom. We had to localize the mooring location with a precision of less than 100 m (the ship is ~ 90 m long) for this to work. Amazingly, at the first try, the mooring finally poped up at the surface (look for the tiny red buoy in the picture below) !