By Carla and Rebekka |
On Saturday, after a long stay at the dockyard, the Research Vessel Polarstern set out on its next expedition to the Arctic. We are students, have joined the crew for the first time and are very excited. During boarding our friends and family can accompany us and make sure that we’ll be safe on board. After many goodbyes we wait for the ship to put out to sea. At 9pm it is time and the Polarstern leaves the shipyard in Bremerhaven, observed by many spectators and journalists. We´re standing on deck as well and watch the spectacle. It’ll take us one week to reach our research area, the Hausgarten in the Fram Street. As we’re leaving the harbour the sky clears and we can see Polaris, the North or Polar Star, which gave our ship its name. As soon as we leave the North Sea, we’ll set course for it, straight to the North.
The first night at sea also brings with it he first storm, and no one gets much sleep. The following day is stormy as well and many of us suffer from seasickness. Taking the stairs is more of a controlled falling, and the biggest waves are often followed by clattering and curses. Working is nearly impossible as well, so when it is announced in the first meeting that the containers can´t be unpacked today most of us gratefully return to bed.
The next morning greets us with calmer weather. For breakfast there are pancakes, and today we can properly appreciate them. Then the assault on the containers starts, which can finally be unpacked. The sea bags with the polar and working clothes from AWI can be fetched as well, which is good since it´s getting colder outside and our sneakers don’t fulfill the safety standards for unpacking the heavy boxes. Also, the big jackets are just very comfortable, like a sleeping bag with arms. As soon as it´s decided who gets which laboratory, they can be furnished. Since most of our experiments will take place when we reach the stations, the next days are mostly about unpacking and securing everything so that it´s safe for the journey.
On Wednesday these safety measures are immediately put to the test, because the stormy weather returns. Many labours come to a stop again and since most of us have by now overcome their seasickness we use the time to enjoy the view from the bridge. Here the waves look most spectacular and we try to capture them for our families at home.
Today, almost everything is prepared, the sea is calm again, first tests are run and the helicopter leaves for a few trial flights. There is time for some last emails to experts who stayed back at the AWI (the yellow lamp is blinking, what do I do??), but other than that we just wait for Friday night, when we reach the first station, and enjoy the ride.
All the Best from 72°N,
Carla and Rebekka