Date: Wednesday 10 January 2007
Position: Montevideo port, Uruguay
"We finally arrived on the James Clark Ross yesterday afternoon at about 3 pm local time. After many alternative plans and routes we have boarded the ship in Uruguay. This change of plan has been necessary because of a limited availability of flights into the Falkland Islands and a lack of a large enough crane to move some of the Isis ROV equipment about on ship.
The journey to Uruguay was via Washington DC in the USA and Buenos Aires in Argentina, our last leg being a twenty minute flight over the River Plate. Despite the long flight time (a total of about 22 hours) Uruguay is only two hours behind the UK.
It is summer here in Uruguay and it has been very warm and muggy, quite a shock to the system to be dressed for the UK in January and then finding it to be 32oC when you get off the plane at the other end! However, we are all making the most of the warm weather as the temperature will soon start to fall as we move south.
The journey is over, and the first day on ship has provided some time for us all to meet the other scientists involved in this cruise as well as some of the ship’s officers and crew. The cruise has two objectives. The first part of the cruise will investigate the geology of the seabed in Marguerite Bay on the east side of the Antarctic Peninsula, exploring the seabed with the Isis ROV and investigating the effects of iceberg scour on sea bed features. For this we are joined by geologists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), both of which have headquarters in Cambridge. The second part of the cruise will investigate how these iceberg impacts have structured the seabed community in shallow water before moving on to investigate the patchy distribution of seabed fauna in deeper water, down to a maximum depth of about 3500 m. For this second part five scientists, including me, have travelled from Southampton and we will be joined by others from the BAS when we arrive in Rothera.
Today the ship has been making final preparations for departure, loading fuel and groceries and arranging the last of the containers. One of the requirements of the RRS James Clark Ross is to keep all of the BAS bases in the Antarctic supplied with provisions during the summer science season (the UK's winter!). For this reason the ship is chock-full of equipment and supplies which we will first deliver to Rothera before our science cruise starts in earnest. During the day we took the opportunity to visit the city of Montevideo for lunch and sightseeing and we are now back on board and hoping to set sail in the next hour or so, once we have had our first safety drill.
Once we leave Uruguay we will head south to the Antarctic Peninsula, although there is a rumour circulating that we might have a brief stop in the Falkland Islands to pick up some last pieces of equipment. I’ll send an update of our route and progress south in the next few days...."