Sunday, November 29th
Day 1 to Day 3
Polarstern left the port of Cabo Negro near Punta Arenas on the evening of Friday, November 27th, 2009. It was to pass through the narrow Magellan Strait to reach the open waters of the Southern Pacific. As we maneuvered through the narrow strait, only the fading distant lights of the coastal towns were to be seen under the twilight. As all would agree, it was a pleasant yet an anxious feeling, as we wouldn’t see land for the next 8 weeks.
The early morning light the next day welcomed us in to the Magellan Strait with its snow-capped peaks and narrow-winding water ways. It was a view to remember as experiences such as these are uncommon to people outside the scientific world. The landscape was rocky with patches of islands close and far. The bigger and higher of these had snow on top, which looked like spoons of chocolate with vanilla sauce sprinkled over it. The fog kept a steady pace with the ship and the clouds hid the sun with occasional rays passing through. The sea was calm and the nature serene. Only the howling wind tried to disturb the peace and tear at our clothes. However, the warm orange suits received from AWI kept us warm. (I couldn’t help but think of myself as the Michelin man.)
In the afternoon, there was a briefing about the ‘Rules on Board’ & the ‘Safety Regulations’ and various safety maneuvers were performed by all on board. Thereafter, the scientists continue unloading there equipment and started to set up their labs.
As we conquered the narrowness of the strait and moved on steadily towards the open ocean, the waves started to grow stronger. The weather forecast mentioned of 3 – 4 meter high waves in the next 2 days. As dusk fell on the first journey day, land masses also started to disappear into the distant horizon. The daily routines of the ship and its crew of scientists and seamen began to take further shape in preparation of the first station the next day.
In the evening, there was a further briefing by the Chief Scientist onboard, Dr. Rainer Gesonde, in which various working groups were introduced, their strategies were discussed and plans were made for the first sampling station and henceforth. In the meantime, sea-sickness began to take hold of all and sundry. The doctor was regularly visited and patches to cure sea-sickness were distributed out. The usual hullabaloo of the excitement of the first 2 days was cut short for sometime as people began to rest in their bunks.
With a good night’s rest and some help from the doctor, the minor hurdle of sea-sickness was overcome and the wait to reach the first station began. We were scheduled to reach the first station at 4 pm and preparations in the various labs especially within the sediment coring team coupled with the Parasound and the Echosounder teams were in full swing by late morning.
A very interesting measure on the ship is the ‘Weight Watchers Club(WWC)’, in which you prognose how much weight you were going to gain or lose in a week after an initial weighing. The wrong prognosis required you to concede 0.50 cent which goes as aid to a children’s cancer hospital in Rostock (DE).
Ulrich: With respect to the WWC, my current weight then was measured at 78kgs. With regards to my prognosis, I decided to go in for the option of ‘staying the same weight’ for next weeks’ measurement. My first thought was that it might be very difficult as the meals on board were very delicious!
Author: Abhinav Gogoi and Ulrich Breitsprecher