Toby Tyrrell, from Immingham,UK
Today the James Clark Ross has suddenly become a very busy place. It is moored in Immingham, next to the dark brown waters of the Humber estuary in the north of the UK. A large selection of hire cars and vans are lined up on the quayside next to it. Earlier on, another famous British Antarctic Survey vessel, the RRS Ernest Shackleton, was also tied up next to it, but that has now left.
Loading has proceeded steadily and unceasingly all day, in the bright warm May sunshine. The crew are supervising the loading of food and supplies and the officers are planning the details of the route for the first few days. Cranes are continuously lifting on pallets, crates and large metal boxes of equipment. These boxes and crates are being rapidly unpacked and the contents installed in the scientific laboratories on the ship.
There are a large number of scientists on this cruise and “bench space” (an area of tabletop on which to put your instruments and carry out your work) is therefore at a premium. Gradually it is all getting worked out and everyone is allocated their space to work in. The back deck (a flat space at the back of the ship) is often quite clear but on this cruise is packed full of shipping containers. These have been modified to be used as scientific laboratories, greatly increasing the capacity to do science on the ship.
Some scientists arrived yesterday, driving in from several destinations around the UK, others are still arriving today by train and car. Old friends from previous shared cruises are greeted again. One student thought she would have to drop out at the last minute because her visa (the cruise ends in Iceland) had not arrived. Thankfully yesterday she got the long hoped-for telephone call and today she has undertaken a lightning trip to London to collect it. Months of preparations will not now be in vain! Overall there is considerable excitement about the trip ahead, mixed with some stress about getting ready in time and making sure that everything works properly.