Here we go…

Here we go, here we go, here we go, HERE …WEE …GOoooo…..

The RRS James Cook, towards the end of mobilisation. Just the ‘Vibrocorer’ is left standing proud on the dock – ready to be lifted into position.

The Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Cook gets ready for her geophysics and coring cruise as part of BRITICE-CHRONO’s investigations into the speed of ice sheet retreat. Just back from Mexican waters she needs to prepare for the North Sea and the continental shelf and fjords of northern Scotland. Our resident filmmaker for the cruise, Alex Ingle, has captured the mobilisation process. Witness much dockside crane-work at the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton, loading the drilling rigs (vibro- and piston corers) and containers of kit including our impressively-refurbished containerised core scanning laboratory, which comes complete with scientist Sally Morgan. So much deck manipulation was required that a small ‘cherry picker’ was craned onboard for the delicate manoeuvring. Food and water for a one month journey also made it onboard, although I noted at breakfast this morning that we are drinking bottled water from Mexico, very nice too.

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Mobilisation of the science team was much easier, with 25 of us travelling by train, plane, and automobile and climbing the steep gangway. This brings the ship’s complement to 52, all of whom are ready for a voyage of some discovery. Colm is our captain of science for the trip (Principal Scientific Officer) and is hoping for a nice and steady start to our adventure. For me, the long-awaited cruise started on my birthday, very fitting timing and more so because it was also on my birthday, high in the Italian Alps, that I first learnt that our BRITICE-CHRONO project got the go-ahead when NERC chose to fund it. Clearly a precedent has now been set for sizeable scientific treats on my birthday that I hope to enjoy in the future years. I am just back from a marvellous lunch, with stop-press news, we have now run out of Mexican water, our new supplies are from Conwy in North Wales.

The science team watch as the Vibrocorer is lowered into the water for a test core.

The science team watch on in anticipation as the Vibrocorer is lowered into the water for the first time this cruise.

So we finally set sail 9am Friday 3rd July, setting off on a 3 day transit up the east coast of England and Scotland, through the hazardous Pentland Firth, westwards across Scotland’s north coast to our first target cores near Cape Wrath. Let there be shells of treasure in them there cores……..

Chris Clark.

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