JC36: Geology & biology of the Whittard Canyon


 JC36



Cruise diary

14 July 2009
Location: Whittard Canyon, 48º 17' N / 10º 18' W

Andy writes:

The word ‘cruise’ conjures up images of an elegant ship gliding across a calm sea against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. Scientific cruises are not always like that, even in what is supposed to be the summer, and yesterday was a complete washout. We had been expecting a storm and it arrived as predicted around midnight. The ship spent the night rolling around in heavy seas and we spent the night rolling around in our beds. The James Cook is a noisy ship and so trying to get some sleep can be a double challenge.

When a storm is on its way people scurry around the ship try to make everything secure. Major pieces of equipment on the decks, such as the corers, are firmly lashed with strong ropes, but we also have to make sure that smaller items do not fly around the labs if a big wave comes along and the ship rolls badly. This involves stuffing things into drawers or tying boxes to the legs of benches with blue string (why blue?). Laptop computers are particularly vulnerable. We usually put those on cabin floors to be safe.

Now it’s early on Wednesday morning, the storm has passed and we will shortly be putting the ROV back in the water for the first time in more than a week. We all hope that the rest of the cruise will be blessed with better weather, although the weather gods may have other plans.


For some reason, it’s difficult to capture rough seas in photographs. The waves never look as big as they really are (honest…!).

Left: The side deck with everything lashed down securely

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