Monday 31 March 2014

Land ahoy!

We’ve now come to the end of this survey aboard the RV Cefas Endeavour, completing our voyage around Farnes East, Swallow Sand MCZ and the Fladen grounds – three special areas of the northern North Sea. We’ve steamed back down south to Lowestoft through a thick blanket of fog and now have sight of the Suffolk coast again. However, whether we can actually come into port tonight remains to be seen, as we wait to see what visibility is like at high tide.

Spring temperatures haven't reached the foggy North Sea yet (Photo: Neil Golding).
The last stretch back to Lowestoft has seen us packing away equipment, cleaning the workspaces and completing our final checks of all the data we’ve collected. We have come back with plenty of data (despite the poor weather last week) and with the steam home taking 36 hours, we’ve had a good opportunity to get as much of our data entry and map work done as possible.

We’ve also had several more visitors joining our journey on board, the most recent and unexpected being a moorhen which turned up yesterday evening while we were in the middle of the North Sea. The moorhens that breed in the UK are resident, but this individual may be a Scandinavian bird, spending its winters in western Europe then crossing the North Sea to return and breed in Norway or Sweden.

A very camera shy moorhen Gallinula chloropus hitching a lift on the stern (Photo: Neil Golding).
Our last day also saw us being treated to a tour around the engine and winch rooms by Gary the Chief Engineer. This, in addition to our crash course on steering the vessel, could help us if we ever had to take control of the vessel in an emergency, but thankfully it didn't come to that!

The engine room on the lower deck (NB. imagine lots of noise) (JNCC/Cefas).
Of course a class photo with the vessel’s ensign was in order too – all looking happy to have made it through the survey with not a single sign of sea sickness!

Geeks at sea! (JNCC/Cefas)
Finally, we would like to thank our colleagues from Cefas for all their hard work on this survey, and the ship’s crew who helped us tremendously and made us feel very welcome aboard ship.