RRS Discovery cruise 366: 1 July 2011


Today our planned programme of work has been thwarted by poor weather, with the sea being too rough to safely put the CTD in the water. We are currently running away westwards from the Skaggerak, trying to find calmer waters in the central North Sea.

Force 8 winds today

Today’s blog is by Steve Archer from Plymouth Marine Laboratory, listing some of his highlights.

Every cruise has its memorable moments: spectacular sunsets, a few too many ‘beautiful’ sunrises, the best of them over the Cullins of Skye this time, mercury-tinged metallic seas, real ocean swell roaming across Biscay, regiments of wind turbines striding across the North and Irish Seas; but maybe people paint a better picture of what a cruise involves.

Here are a few of the ‘sketches’ that stick in my mind from this one, so far:

  • Seb’s modestly polite but unswerving perseverance to capture everybody on celluloid doing something meaningful and valid to the blog;
  • Cecilia’s exuberant, italianesque joy at seeing the first group of dolphins to surf our bow wave;
  • Jeff the steward’s dawn round of cheery greeting through the labs, but more importantly probably, his check that who should be up is up, and that he’s not going to surprise anyone or himself when he goes in to tidy their cabin
  • Frankie’s solid determination to rescue a feathered member of the Irish Homing Society that paid us a one way visit, and Ian’s great photo of her holding a box containing the bird that he christened ‘Kentucky fried pigeon’;
  • the quiet laugh Bill probably had after painting all the door-frames in the stairwell on the bumpiest of days in the Bay of Biscay;
  • Toby’s obvious relief when he managed to persuade a slightly reluctant Jeremy to swap to 2 am starts;
  • the exhaustion in technician Jeff’s face after being up all night retrieving and repairing our most important sampling instrument after it got stuck at 4800 m deep;
  • equalled only by the dismay on Eric’s face when told the water sampled from 4800 m deep, involving all those hours of hard labour and plenty of strife, had just been emptied onto the deck; 
  • the gallic sigh from Sophie as she deposits yet another massive box of cleaned bottles back in what started off as her beloved incubation container but might have evolved into more a chamber of torture by now;
  • Alex’s deserved delight when able to correctly identify the strange and infamous mini-beast that is Noctiluca that we found blooming over much of the southern North Sea; and my chagrin at not being able to trawl through my memory bank to come up with the identification myself;
  • the emergence of Ross from his dungeon that is a laboratory, to accompany the coolest of suns on his mandolin; as we sat in line, like swallows on a wire, watching it sink into the calmest of North Seas, after another tough day;
  • Dorothee’s understandable persistence on the radio in the middle of the night, making sure those on the bridge knew things were getting a bit hectic around her container on the back deck, as the wind picked up to a force 7 in the North Sea, and loose pallets started whistling around.

Dolphins in the bow-wave, from earlier in the cruise

Bird at sea

And here we stick for the moment, in the middle of the North Sea, unable to get out of the small weather system that’s got us in its grip, and with every opportunity for a few more of life’s sketches to evolve.

First blog

Previous blog                                   Next blog

Final blog