England, Here We Come!
In calm and clear conditions on May 11 Sorcerer II set sail for Plymouth, England. We enjoyed our brief stay in the Azores, but we were all excited to get to the U.K. and complete our North Atlantic crossing. As I mentioned in previous entries, we took samples near areas studied by the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries IMAR-University of the Azores (DOP/UAç). We sailed from Faial to the neighboring island of Pico to collect the first sample. On our second day out we collected another sample about 100 miles offshore.
On the second day of our five day transit we received word of bad weather on our projected route to Plymouth. With Charlie and John monitoring the forecasts from onboard Sorcerer II, and Craig monitoring from the US, the collective decision was made to head east to avoid the stronger winds and seas north of us. We spent the day securing the boat and storing the science gear. We had to travel so far east to avoid the heart of the storm that we were only 250 miles off the coast of Spain. During this time we experienced winds up to 50 knots and seas ranging from 15-20 feet. As you could imagine the weather put a halt to the sampling and the crew focused on the weather and making it to England safe and sound.
We arrived in Plymouth on Monday, May 18th two days later than expected, but happily in one piece. Plymouth is a significant location for us since Charles Darwin embarked aboard the HMS Beagle from this same site 178 years ago. As we sailed into our slip, we were greeted on the dock by Dr. Jack Gilbert, head of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) team and our host in Plymouth, and Dr. Mark Brown from The University of New South Wales (UNSW). Dr. Brown (aka, Brownie) is a colleague who works on the Antarctic Lakes Project, a joint research program between UNSW and the J. Craig Venter Institute. The Sorcerer II is in good hands with our hosts from PML. We are all looking forward to some intense sampling in the coming days as well as a few nights of local food and fun with our UK friends and scientists.