While almost every single person I have come across has expressed a certain joy in being back amongst the ice floes it has made it impossible to retrieve the first of the five moorings. Similar to the difficulties with getting to Commonwealth Bay, the “A” factor (A for Antarctica for those who didn’t realise my present location) has once again thwarted our best laid plans. The unpredictable ice is making things tricky, and forced me to retrieve my thermal underwear. I should also locate my waterproof gloves before I start to sample the freezing water from the CTD. So once again, we hurry up and wait.
It is now almost 1am and the ice has finally dispersed enough to retrieve the precious mooring. Instead of losing more time the ship headed off to a nearby station and we took my first CTD. So I am now volunteering with the Carbon group and we are sampling for carbonate chemistry i.e. pH, alkalinity, DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon). Dr Elizabeth, Dr Stephan and myself the protodoctor, now make up the crack team that sample all stations between 2pm and 2am. Elizabeth takes her samples, Stephan poisons them (to avoid further biological activity that may alter the chemistry) and then I come in and take samples for pH. Then once I’m done I switch the hose over to the next bottle and we start all over again. We have two hoses which means in theory, we can get into a rhythm, and get through the 20 odd bottles very quickly.
In practice when you haven’t done it before you end up with quite a bit of water on your pants, on your friends pants and up your sleeve.
You then don’t connect the hose properly and get a stream of icy water straight on to your chest, break your container, have to run to get another and then spend the next 5 minutes trying to catch up to Elizabeth again who doesn’t have a drop of water on her, except the bit you poured down her boot. To be honest I think the operation would have gone quicker had I not been there but I have high hopes that I will be more ‘helpful’ next time. Unfortunately due to the delay in retrieving the mooring, next time may be at close to 2 in the morning so I can’t make any guarantees. Maybe tomorrow?