Sunday 1 October 2000
This started off a very relaxed day. We rose late, had a leisurely breakfast, went out and did a couple of minor chores, packed the last few things we needed. We went to neighbours for a barbecue lunch and then Pat drove us to Self’s Point where we boarded the ship.
On board at this stage we only have five of the expeditioners who are sailing south with us but a number of other scientists and technicians who are doing the equipment calibration. We also have eight visitors from the National Oceans Office who are just going to be on board overnight to see how the ship and its equipment operate and the facilities for scientific research. There were about three people on the wharf to see the ship pulling away and heading down the river and out to sea. We left Self’s Point dock at 1652 local time.
Had a pretty quiet evening - wandered about the ship with Gordon checking out things, catching up with crew members he has travelled with before, sorting out things in the cabins. It’s amazing how much stuff accumulated in Gordon’s cabin and work space since we first came on board. Sorting out all this is a job for tomorrow and part of Tuesday. Got to bed about 2200, fairly rough outside but for seasoned sailors like us - not a problem; some of the Oceans people were looking a little green when we saw them on the trawl deck talking to one of the scientists. En route to Port Arthur the scientists successfully completed RMT net trials.
Monday 2 October 2000
After the overnight trip which included testing of new trawling equipment, we pulled in to Carnarvon Bay at Port Arthur about 0630. The ship set out four anchors to allow some technical work to be done including acoustic calibration and the maintenance of computing logging systems. For us it was a pretty relaxed day even though there was a lot on - fortunately one where we could set our own pace for doing things, and what an assortment of jobs. Unpacked and stacked hundreds of videos for the video room, re-stacked and sorted mail bags going to the stations, set up computers and connected them to the network, unpacked and stored office supplies and stationery for on board use, unpacked and stored personal equipment, set up the Voyage Leaders space and emergency equipment (the Voyage Leader had returned to Hobart earlier in the day for final briefing of expeditioners). The National Oceans Office staff left the ship this morning to return to Hobart.
A quiet evening meal and then finished up the last of the sorting - shifting stuff from Gordon’s cabin to other parts of the ship.
Tuesday 3 October 2000
The day started off in very relaxed form. A leisurely breakfast followed by some light finishing up work. At around 0830 the first of our two helicopters flew on board. The helicopter people then started taking the blades off to allow the helicopter to go into the hangar for the trip south. A colleague of Gordon’s from the office came out with the last and final copies of manifests, papers, and sundry items of equipment.
At about 1000 the second helicopter flew on board and shortly after that the first of the expeditioners arrived. They had come from Hobart by bus and out to the ship by ferry from Port Arthur. Three ferry loads in total, with all their kit bags and cameras and all. While all this was happening a sea plane flew around us and we noted someone taking pictures from it. Wonder what that was about? Gordon had a busy time checking off the names of people as they came on board and giving them directions as to where to take their stuff. After lunch Gordon was asked by a National Geographic film crew to re-enact one of the expeditioners coming on board and being greeted.
What’s this - a starring role in a film? Nothing as big as that. The National Geographic Wildlife TV group are collaborating with some Australian researchers on a documentary about Leopard Seals but want to also capture images of an Antarctic voyage generally. Gordon has known the principal researcher Tracey for some years, and he had also established a working relationship with the film crew. So several takes of cameras rolling to have Tracey climbing the final step onto the ship and being checked off and greeted by Gordon - seeing Gordon and Tracey had known each other for a long time, a big bear hug was in order - nothing very formal about these ANARE expeditions!!
In the afternoon we had sea safety instructions from the ships’ Captain and crew - this included putting on survival suits, getting into life rafts and so on. And then it was count down to departure. The scientists and technicians doing the calibration work packed up their gear and left, the anchors were lifted and moved, the final lashing of equipment, the final testing of engines, Customs officials and others left the ship about 1830. At 2000, we sounded the hooters and officially departed at 2036 slipping down Carnarvon Bay and out to sea – straight into rough weather. It was quite dark by this time so there was not much to see. It was a quiet ship tonight.
And so we are on our way - 82 expeditioners (researchers and their staff) and 21 ship crew - 103 people who will share the next 17 or so days together.
What will we do on this journey?
On our journey we initially head roughly south of Hobart to about 47 degrees and then 54 degrees south where we are to retrieve some sediment traps and deploy new ones. We’ll tell you more about these later. We’ll also be deploying a Continuous Plankton Recorder. We should be finished this work on 7 or 8 October, so we’ll turn more to the South West and aim for Davis station on the Antarctic continent - we expect to arrive there on 19 October for a five day stay before heading to Mawson where we expect to be from 29 October to 1 November. From there it is a trip heading north to Heard Island (6 to 8 November) before turning North east for Fremantle in Western Australia which we expect to reach on 16 November.