This expedition has not had an easy birth, but we are finally out and have started sampling.
The thing with big ships is that there are not many parking spots available in town, which means schedules are not very flexible. If you are scheduled to leave at a certain time, you have to.
Our ship, the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer, only gets 3 days since arriving in port before it must leave again. This is a very short time frame to unload all the gear from the last trip, and get all of our gear on.
And sadly, the weather in Punta Arenas (known as PA) did not co-operate so well. The first two days were so windy that the crane operator couldn’t work at all. So everything had to happen in ONE day. Kind of crazy.
The ‘little’ things, which can normally be solved easily, like finding a piece of missing equipment, can suddenly become a big deal. I think the two most memorable glitches from the past two days have been:
1. Locating a piece of vital missing gear from a hotel that we had not stayed at! (No idea how it ever got there, nor how our port agent ever tracked it down!)
2. Getting all of the ethanol on board (which we will use to preserve our samples) and finding that bottles labelled 5 litres actually held only 3!
But all was set right (enough) and we headed out, relieved and exhausted! Within a hour, we were already at our first sampling station... and it was muddy! So we spent the next few hours sieving and washing mud, which thankfully revealed some treasured animals, which made it all worthwhile. I wonder what tomorrow will bring??