And this was the end of the ‘Baltic Expedition 2014’ for microplastics in the Baltic Sea. I am happy and proud to have been part of this scientific expedition, onboard a sturdy sailing boat with an interesting and varied scientific crew and under the professional and pleasant guidance and care of Eric, Shanley and Megan.
On Sunday we got a new crew on board for the day. Politicians, representatives from government agencies, and sponsors visited us and joined Sea Dragon for a day sail in the Stockholm archipelago. We sampled the water for particles using the pump and also showed some of the trawl samples from the expedition.
At one magic moment (after threatening the pump to become a cucumber slicer), the pump miraculously started to work again. In the water, Eric and undersigned inspected the working of the pump. For me it was a good excuse to go swimming, after not having taken a shower so far…
Months of careful planning diseappears in a second when a comprising low pressure enters the Scandinavian peninsula. Sea Dragon is taking shelter at Fårö on Gotland waiting for conditions when sampling on open sea can be carried out again.
During the evening and night the wind picked up and we were sailing close to the wind in forces of 30 knots, with two reefs in the mainsail and the jib. Later on the wind increased further to 35 knots and the jib was replaced by the staysail and a third reef in the mainsail. During the night and in squalls wind gusts of over 45 knots were measured, and the Sea Dragon was racing off and over ever increasing waves like an experienced surfer off Hawaiian waves.
Sea Dragon was in her right element tacking in strong head winds and the crew experienced some real sailing. We set some Baltic Sea Expedition records; strongest wind, highest waves, fastest speed, number of people puking, number of pukes by a person, largest puke by a person. The crew was despite this in a good spirit during the whole week and sailing into Stockholm again was a calm and wonderful finish of leg 3.
After the sampling we headed south to reach the next position. However, the weather turned worse during the day; first heavy rain, and later big waves. Despite that the windy weather made the sampling impossible and made several people seasick, this weather gave us a great chance to see this boat using its full potential, as the boat was heeling over.
It was a beautiful Swedish sunny Saturday the 9th of August when the crew for leg 3 of this Baltic Sea Expedition gathered in the harbour of Sandhamn in the archipelago of Stockholm. We were all excited when approaching this magnificent sailing boat, the Sea Dragon, that was about to be our home for the next seven days. The aim of this trip is to set sail for the northern parts of the Gulf of Bottnia in the Baltic Sea and take samples of the water along the way.
Disaster struck last week when our most important (and most advanced) sampler broke down. While enjoying nice temperatures on deck in the Swedish subtropical climate, the control unit of the 3-stage sampling pump just gave up. After several attempts to get it started again we had to accept that one part of the electronics had burnt out. Not an easy task to get this fixed in the middle of the Baltic Sea.
I know – never challenge the Captain. But as the Scientific Officer on board I thought I might have a chance.
We are fortunate to have a film team on board consisting of the wonderful Metta and Joakim. They like to chat and take pictures a lot. I concluded this morning that it is a dream come true to wake up at 4am to a film lens and questions about the research. The sunrise was also great. Yesterday Folke Rydén met up to film us from another boat while we were doing authentic sailing and research on board.
After a steaming hot day in Sandhamn the discussion topics on deck last night seemed to be endless. Sea sickness, sleeping schedules, sailing strategies, Spotify lists with boat theme …..