May 29 - Heading home
Noon Position : lat 51 26.9 N(!), long 030 25.1 W - About 800 miles West of Cork in Ireland
Air temperature @ noon today : 11.7 ° C (Last Sunday 29.7 °C)
Sea temperature @ noon today : 13.5 ° C (Last Sunday 26.9 °C)
Wind: Direction NE, Force 5
It's All Downhill From Here......
Dr. Lisa mentioned in her last diary that she was deserting us for a tropical beach and the ultimate "Antarctic" jolly, a week in Antigua. Therefore the diary writing has returned to one of the old regulars, though it will only be for a short time. Next week will see us back in the UK. Then it's crew change once more having completed our four months onboard.
Our passage home took us a little further north than we might have expected, but it was all in the name of science. The reason for this can be seen below in the form of a mooring deployed by the Institute of Marine Research based in Bergen Norway. The course deviation wasn't in fact that great, it only added a day to our voyage to the UK and to Portland on the south coast.
The buoy behaved impeccably, surfacing at the first time of asking and is now safely stowed on the aft deck. It'll be delivered back to Norway when the ship travels there later in the summer.
Approaching the Norwegian mooring ready for recovery.
The mooring is lifted inboard.
Goodbye to Antigua
On the completion of the scientific investigations around Montserrat, we returned to the Antiguan capital of St. John's. Before the scientific party left us completely there was the little matter of a field trip to take part in. Yes you guessed it, it was back to Montserrat to look at the volcano. This allowed the scientists a close-up view of the effects the volcanic eruption had on the island and to see the work of the observatory there. Steve Sparks, the principal scientist, kindly invited members of the crew along as well. I understand from all those that went that it was very interesting and well worth the long day in the sun.
All the scientific machinery is travelling back to the UK onboard the ship, so there was no need for shore-side cranes. This was good news for all, as it allowed the ship to berth on one of the jetties right in the middle of the town. The picture below shows the JCR at her jetty on the waterfront.
Saturday morning soon came around and so our departure homeward. The mandatory tug arrived and tied alongside the jetty waiting for the appointed hour. However, having watched the tug before sailing we were not too sure if he had come to escort us out or to give us dancing lessons. The tug master appeared to be having far too much fun dancing around his bridge to the music blaring from the speakers. Finally the last of the paperwork arrived and we were off. Well we were once we had managed to escort the doctor down the gangway with her bike, rucksack and those last minute postcards that people forgot to post.
A tug standing by
On our way at last, though Dr. Lisa waits on the jetty to make sure we've gone!
The pilot's departure breaks our final link with Antigua.
Our final departure occurred shortly after ten in the morning when we disembarked the pilot (above right) and set course for good old Blighty.
The task I recently set myself was a montage of all the dodgy photographs I could find to make a pictorial record of Dr. Lisa's eight month voyage onboard. It wasn't as easy as I had expected, I now suspect somebody of editing the communal photo gallery onboard. We'll have to try better next year with our new doctor Dave. We look forward to meeting him on Friday during the annual doctors' handover.
However, below is the assembly of photos I was allowed to have! I'm sure you'll agree there all far too nice, if we find any others we'll publish them when it's safe i.e. next trip!
Photo jokes aside, we'd all like to thank Lisa for her efforts on our behalf and wish her all the best for her next job in the north-west of England.
I mentioned earlier that Captain Elliott's crew will be leaving next week for some leave, whilst Captain Burgan's team will take over for the summer season. With all the work taking place it might be a while before the next update occurs, so we'll give you a brief outline of JCR's forthcoming programme.
The vessel will undergo a maintenance period during June before attending the International Festival of the Sea in Portsmouth at the end of June. Then the ship will be dry-docked for some major underwater survey and installation work to take place, before heading north to the Arctic in August and September. Then it is south once more with this crew. So until we next speak have a great summer.