Monday, May 13, 2019

Wild waves and Wildcats - by isa R.

It's been a while since I last wrote.

Life on the TGT hasn't stopped and it's been remarkably.. interesting. The storms continued, one after another. We had waves of more than 20 m (about 66 ft!) and winds gusts of 70 knots (!).. can you imagine the rolls?? Oh, how easy it is to slide on a chair.. or fall. Tony, one of our most experienced sailors I've ever met (and one of the most beautiful people onboard) told me that in all his long experience at sea, he had never ever seen anything like the sea state we had in this trip. Every time I'm privileged enough to be part of a cruise in the Southern Ocean, it's a reminder of how punishing this environment is. Storms are more frequent and stronger in the cold seasons, and we can expect to get even worse with our crazy changing climate. I always write and read on papers how the harsh conditions in the Southern Ocean make it pretty much impossible to work for a long time of the year. And I can say that, once more, I witnessed the violent truth of those words. And I'm grateful that I experienced its indomitable power.

Just.. wild.

We've been able to put some CTD stations, but on the 4th of May we stopped the operations in order to reach South Africa quickly, as we had to evacuate one of the scientists who was sick :-( These things happen (actually, this is the 4th time in a row that happens on my cruises.. I'm starting to feel that there's some curse that I bring with me.. O.o), and being so far away from any medical assistance is pretty scary. We all bonded so much, and seeing our friend getting sick and then leaving the ship (a rescue boat came from Port Elizabeth to take the patient to port) was very tough and sad. Thank goodness our friend is feeling better, and we are all so relieved!

Rescue boat approaching the TGT from Port Elizabeth, in rough weather

SD Wildcats ready to go!

On the way to Port Elizabeth, we've been able to deploy many more drifters and a SOCCOM float, SD Wildcats, named after the Wangenheim Middle School's mascot of San Diego. The float has an identification number of #12882: go check the awesome profiles at the website !! The float was deployed on May 6, at 00:28 UTC, at 45S 29E, after crossing the Subantarctic Front, one of the strongest fronts in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current of the Southern Ocean.

Croy and Jenny, our 2 marine technicians, ready to deploy SD Wildcats in the darkness of the night

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