Packing, cleaning and zig-zag course back home

350 nm from Cape Town +++ 39° 20’ S, 16° 20’ O +++ +22°C, sunshine, low sea state +++
30 January 2015
(by Marcel Nicolaus, translation by Ina Lefering)

We encountered several low pressure systems on our journey home from the ice edge to Cape Town. The ship has started to move again due to the storms associated with low pressure but fortunately, we were spared extreme winds and waves. Thanks to our ‘weather Max’ for the frequently updated and very precise weather forecasts! He has, together with the captain, compared the tracks of ship and low pressure systems and adjusted our course so that we always had the calmest conditions possible. We almost steamed right into the centre of a low pressure system, but due to some additional turns we could adjust our passage. Therefore we reached the position after the storm had already passed. Under normal circumstances Polarstern would have simply slowed down, but this is quite tricky at the moment, because of the propeller issues. That’s why our route home turned into the zig-zag course about which many people at home have been wondering by sure.

The day after tomorrow we will get back to Cape Town and the journey ends for us scientists. The past week was dominated by packing and tidying – as usual on such trips. Hundreds of boxes and pieces of fright had to be packed and afterwards loaded into the containers. It is particularly important to take note of the process. Every box has a packing list, every container a container list, and all cargo of our group a fright list. All this administration can take up a lot of time, in particular if it contains dangerous goods. We spend days packing and writing lists, editing the latter, and handing over the final version to our cargo officer.

Packing is followed by cleaning. All laboratories and offices have been stuffed with equipment for the last nine weeks, and now, Polarstern has to be returned into his initial state. By now, most of these tasks have been fulfilled and we’re enjoying the increasing summer temperatures on our way back to Cape Town.

Impressions