K-Axis Day 4: Rough weather mixed with a touch of sadness

“No operations today and for the next few days… enjoy the ride” – Voyage Leader

We had a great start to our voyage with 2 days of smooth sailing that helped most people comfortably find their sea legs. With only 43 expeditioners on the ship (excluding the numerous ship’s crew) it has been noticeably quiet in the corridors and those who are upright and able have been working away in the laboratories setting up their equipment in anticipation of the start of our marine voyage leg.

Yesterday we were a suitable distance away from Tasmanian waters to run trials on our sampling equipment and the day was devoted to preparations for each research group. The crew spent most of the day working on the trawl net and MIDOC* (I don’t know what that does yet) operations and fixing any issues that occurred. The krill team were pretty excited to see the CPR (continuous plankton recorder) stuffed with krill when they brought it up in the morning. By late afternoon we were ready to put the CTD in the water but the weather had other plans and while we were all crowded in the control room awaiting instructions the operation was called off due to the increasing winds (gusting 40kn) and an inability to keep the ship steady enough to put the CTD safely in the water (think big heavy weight on the end of a wire).

I have been taking advantage of the calm conditions and have been playing around with the FlowCAM and imaging the phytoplankton in the surface water periodically. We can do this through what we call an ‘underway line’, which is seawater that is constantly pumped into one of the labs from underneath the ship. Yesterday I got some refresher training on pigment filtration to allow Karen (who I’m working with on the productivity measurements) to get some time to do other things, such as set up our lab. We take pigment samples from the underway line every 2hrs from 8am – 2pm and 10pm to get an idea of the phytoplankton community composition in the surface water as we travel southwest through the Southern Ocean.

There were a lot of tired people this morning at breakfast after a rough night of pitching and rolling. All operations have been called off for today and until the weather calms down. We’ve got a couple of fronts passing over us so we just have to sit tight (and take our seasickness pills) until it all blows over. There’s still things to do so most of us have jobs to occupy ourselves during this time. Its just a bit bumpy so we’re not trying to over-exert ourselves lest we start feeling unwell.

On a sad note, you would probably be aware of the tragic passing of one of our helicopter pilots yesterday at Davis Station. I had the pleasure of summering with Dave at Davis last season and I am absolutely devastated by the news. I feel for his family and everyone at Davis right now. As Antarctic expeditioners you’re not just workmates, you’re family and the loss is absolutely heartbreaking.

* I’ll be using all kinds of acronyms during this voyage and while some I can explain, others you’ll be better off looking up as I don’t have access to any internet other than email and can’t add the detailed explanation or links that Google can offer. I will try and explain some of the different things we’re doing in more detail tho so stay tuned. Also, sorry no photos. I can’t upload them.


One response to “K-Axis Day 4: Rough weather mixed with a touch of sadness

  1. Hi Stacy, so nice to hear from you. I thought of you the other day when I heard the news on the radio about the pilot’s death, very very sad. It sounds like you are off to a bit of a rocky start, but what a trip of a lifetime it will be. Love reading our blogs, thank you for painting such great pictures for us and sharing your life on and below the seas with us, tis an honour to read them. It must of been lovely for you to be home with all the family this christmas, Mum sounded very excited. You have two beautiful nephews, I love it when I get to see them from time to time. Have a wonderful adventure, praying and thinking of you. xxxxx

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