The Final Push…
By Kat Law – Deckhand
Having had a fantastic stay in London’s Hermitage Moorings, being overlooked by Tower Bridge, we made our way back down the Thames. We were escorted by the PLA as we were allowed to conduct a manta trawl in the Thames! As we approached the Barrier we were confronted with the sight of 100s of plastic bottles collected in the bend of the river. We wondered if our trawl, that we would conduct on the other side of the Barrier, would simply fill before the half an hour was up. Once through the barrier, we dropped the trawl in and kept a careful eye on the netting to ensure that it did not get too full and damage it. Despite the debris that we saw on the other side of the Barrier we survived the sampling time of half an hour and pulled the manta trawl out with no issues. The science team rushed in to gather their samples whilst the sailing team, and some of the guest crew waved goodbye to the PLA and started to put the trawl equipment to bed.
For the first 24 hours, the forecast was for some light winds, and we did manage to get some wonderful sailing in before the stronger winds filled in. We got some glorious sailing in, whizzing along making great speed, but then the morning of the final full day of this eXXpedition tour saw the wind pick up, and the sea state increase. This instigated the return of our old enemy, seasickness. Again, many suffered, but to hand it to the guest crew the vast majority powered through and showed some true grit to make it up on deck for their watches. It is important to note the improvement of those who had been present for the sea sick battles of legs one and two who managed to learn from their previous endurances and really relish in the tough conditions successfully managing their nausea. For those suffering, I’m sure the rough weather probably felt like an eternity, but the waves and wind soon settled down.
As the wind slowly started to die and the sun started to set, some drizzle, in typical British fashion, remained. It was noted that it was particularly difficult to see on my 8 till midnight watch, at first we thought it was just drizzling and the sunset, but it became increasingly clear that we were not in for an easy night watch as the fog crept in. After the first hour, it became apparent that this thick fog was not going anywhere. As we motor sailed through the night we were keeping a good check on the radar, AIS and all watch members on deck had their eyes peeled for lights or the shapes of hulls. Fortunately, over our four hours, we saw nothing except an alarmed gannet that we nearly ran over, and we went down to bed leaving the fog to Diane and watch 3 excited to know that when we next woke up we would be in sight of Plymouth!
I woke up to the sound of the final trawl being deployed, I felt slightly guilty about not being about to assist with the setup and so hurried myself to be on deck and ready for bringing it back in. I got on deck to the sight of Devon, my home county, coastline and the trawl slowly moving through the water. It was a truly beautiful morning and all those up on deck were in vastly improved spirits having fully recovered from the rough weather. Once the final trawl was done the enthusiastic scientists rushed in as we put the trawl away for the final time and excitedly made our way into our final destination port. Those who had gone all the way round, Diane, Holly, Sue, Sarah, Deborah and myself all had made it and completed our circumnavigation. For me, this has been truly such a rewarding experience, as well as educational, and I will remember this trip for a long time to come particularly the calls for buckets, or as they became known ‘puke points’!