Back East

12 September 2012 by Anonymous (not verified)

We deployed the final guard buoy this morning at 11:42 which signalled the end of the first part of this cruise. The guard buoys are about 6 metres tall and so swinging them out over the side with the wind blowing and then dropping them into the swell with the crane constitutes a real spectacle for us, particularly if the wind is blowing and the buoy’s own heavy anchor is also in play.

After a week of going in circles around our site to deploy 12 moorings, we turned to the east and started on the 700 km back to Falmouth to re-organise the ship and change over crew. This is the time to write the cruise report, as the work will have been for nothing if a careful record is not made of exactly what we dropped and where.

After the relatively intricate manoeuvring at slow speeds needed to deploy the moorings over the last two weeks the ship now feels like its burning up the ocean. The sense of speed is heightened as the ship is listing from side to side under the influence of a train of waves running from north to south, perpendicular to the ship, leading to a wooshing sound as they run beneath.
The Disco listing in the swell
The waves are well-organised as they arrive in regular 8 second intervals according to our instruments. This shows that they were generated far away, as an ocean storm will whip up winds of many frequencies (i.e. different interval lengths) around it. As these waves spread away from the storm their speed varies based on the length of the interval between the waves (known as a ‘dispersion relation’). This means that far enough away from the storm a ship will encounter only waves of a single frequency at a time. These waves were generated to the north, presumably by some of the big storms between Ireland and Iceland over the last week. Although they made for an uncomfortable time on board, their large size and regular spacing will make a nice present for any surfers when they finally break on a beach in Spain.

So after this, all muttered conversations on board now turn to Falmouth, which we will reach in 48 hours. After some time at sea - even just a couple of weeks - there is no port that doesn’t capture your imagination. Alberto talks of long cruises in the Southern Ocean where the prospect of a visit to the cultural epicentre that is Port Stanley in the Falklands gets people more excited than a plane full of shopaholics landing in New York. We’re not quite at that stage yet, but the freedom to choose where you want to eat or or what kind of biscuits you want to have with your tea will still be appreciated.