Departing Southampton ….. what did the forecast say?!

At 08:57 this morning we left Southampton and started our journey to the Cape Verde where the rest of the scientific party for the 13N research cruise will join the vessel.

Our route takes us around the Isle of Wight, out into the shipping lanes of the Channel and then across the Bay of Biscay.

At this time of the year we can expect a rough ride, certainly across the Bay of Biscay and the forecast is not good for the first week as the below image shows. We’ll soon find out who the hardy mariners are!

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It will take us about a week to get to the Canary Islands, and the better weather, at which point we will start testing the onboard equipment. We have to do this in international waters, otherwise we have to seek permission via a diplomatic clearance request from the government of the nation that owns them.

Onboard are a number of technical staff from the NERC’s National Marine Facility Sea Systems, some just to do these trials and some who will also be carrying on to run the seismic source systems as part of the 13N cruise. The Co-Principal Scientist of the 13N cruise is also onboard as scientific adviser and to act as Marine Mammal Observer.

As we go south the days will also get longer, eventually getting light around 6am and dark around 6pm.

Some images from the departure.

IMG_2764_trimThe stern working deck now has a full compliment of towed seismic equipment.

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And the starboard side deck accommodates some of the ocean-bottom seismographs and Autosub.

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It was a pretty dreary, dull and mizzling day in Southampton today as we raised the gang plank, cast off and did a pirouette in the dock in front of the National Oceaonography Centre before making our way out into the Solent.

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And then off, down the Solent towards the Isle of Wight, before dropping the pilot off and

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making our way out into the Channel.

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Everything has been securely lashed down as we are expecting bad weather,

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and what can be stored inside the hanger has been – its a full place right now.

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We are currently making 12.5 kn with the tide running down the Channel, the wind is (only) blowing 21 kn (force 5 on the Beaufort scale) on the beam (side of the ship) so we are rolling a bit, but nothing like what is to come over the next few days when we meet a deep Atlantic low pressure system as it heads east towards the UK. If it stays like this we’ll get some sleep tonight at least!

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However, science has begun and the Cook’s technical staff are starting up the vessel-based systems measuring the seabed depth, the gravity field, the roughness of the sea surface etc and recording these against out GPS position – we can monitor all this is the “control centre”.

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We have two important activities today – signing on as crew and the lifeboat drill which has to be done within 24 hrs of departure. We’ll then see how many have robust stomachs at dinner time!

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