Thursday, 15 November 2012

SIPEX-II Update, from 15 Nov

Last post from aboard the Aurora Australis as Molly, Jess, Rob and Sarah wrap up their time as part of SIPEX 2012.
15th Nov

We finally got out of the pack ice on 11th Nov, and suddenly started moving really fast towards Northeast. The entire day traveling in the MIZ, the scene outside was splendid. There were still plenty of ice floes with thick snow on it, but the blue ocean was everywhere to see. Plenty of sea birds (mainly snow petrol and giant petrol) were flying and sliding behind the heli-deck. People were all out with their fancy camera lenses to capture some real photos of those lightning-speed birds. We had an outdoor BBQ on the trawl deck under the last late-night sunshine to celebrate the joy to return home.

I start to grow into deep sadness when the sun sank into the skyline at 11pm. This will be last sunset we see beyond 60oS. We have been travelling with 16knots the entire day and night, and when midnight passed, all the ice disappeared in our sight, only left the wild ocean with swell and waves.

Last night was the Aurora night. Barry, our rocket scientist, has his contact based in Hobart to pass the information to predict Aurora. About 10pm, anyone still awake stood under the sky and looked up. There were still clouds gathering around, so at the beginning we couldn’t really tell if the light bits were only the sky or the real aurora. The real aurora does not appear as bright green as we normally see on the picture. After about half an hour, the sky started become unbelievable and incredible. I have never seen something like this. The pale green light appeared on the sky with a rhythm. It was like the wave washing the black sandy beach and left all the patterns on it. Sometimes it was more like a painter spread out all the watercolour paints randomly to the black paper. And the next moment everything was suddenly washed out. What happened on the sky was not really describable by words. I was just standing there and gazing the sky for more than half an hour. The only words came out was “WOW….”

We will arrive Hobart tomorrow.  There are still so many stories need to tell. Although we have only been on the ship for two months, I had the feeling it’s been a year. All the people on board appear to me as a big family. Our science group is a mix of experienced scientists, engineers, early scientists and students. It is fascinating for me to meet all these awesome people with passionate of their work. They are also incredible professional.

The best part is all the science nerds at the same time maintain a high level skill on something else. Ted, Peter and Polly are crazy Scrabble/bananagrams machines with words come out their brain every second. Jono and Peter are fantastic guitar players, who usually play as our bed-song singer and after-dinner entertainment. There are more than one great photographers who capture all the amazing scenes along the way. Ernesto and Maria are good Ping-Pong players. We also have Anne-Julie as our Belgian-French painter who is able to make very fine oil painting.

This will be last post for us from the Aurora Australis. The Aurora email system will be shut down as soon as we reach the port tomorrow. APECS-Oceania will follow up some great photos and videos and some post-voyage stories soon afterwards.

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