Friday, 22 August 2008

All aboard!

I've arrived in Durban after a ridiculously early start (the shuttle cab driver showed up at my house at 2:50am, and we got to the airport so early it wasn't even really open yet) and have now boarded the R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen, despite the security guard at the entrance to the part of the harbour where the ship is docked demanding that the passengers in the car (Jessica Escobar-Porras, Arrie Kloppers and myself) wear safety helmets and a lumo yellow jacket. Which of course we did not have in the car. I wonder exactly what a safety helmet and a lumo orange/yellow jacket would actually achieve if one of the huge shipping containers being moved about with massive gantry cranes happened to drop on your head... The person from the shipping agent had a little chat with him and eventually, they resolved that as we were scientists and getting straight on the Nansen, sticking to the regulations about safety equipment was pretty pointless.

For the moment, we each seem to have a cabin to ourselves - on a long sea voyage, having your own space is very pleasant - although I suspect this will only be until we get to Madagascar. The cabins on the Nansen are quite plush, somewhat like a business-class hotel, with a little hi-fi, some bunk beds and a couch/table affair. When I find someone walking around with a digital camera, I'll see what I can do about photoblogging - unfortunately, I'm still stuck in the days of film!

I'm also getting to grips with a Norwegian layout keyboard, but once I find an ethernet LAN cable, I'll be able to use the laptop I brought from the office, probably even from my cabin, as there's a likely looking jack in there. They've recently installed a massive plasma TV in the recreation room at the bottom of the ship. If only I had a monitor cable to hook my laptop up to it (I have loads in my office... in Grahamstown). I'll try and do a blog entry that's a mini-tour of the ship at some stage. I even managed to scrounge up the right cable to make a European to South African adaptor; if only I had remembered to bring a screwdriver.

We're now waiting for some more people to join us; Sharon du Plessis and Tommy Bornman are flying in for the day to attend a science meeting this afternoon, along with the rest of the scientific crew for the section of the leg across to Madagascar. We'll go over the plan for this leg, if not the entire cruise, and look at trying to sort out the absolute chaos that is going on in all the labs - the number of boxes of stuff has to be seen to be believed, and I guess it'll fall to us to establish some kind of order!

The ship is actually only leaving tomorrow (Saturday) evening, so I think we'll try and harangue the shipping agent to take us shopping somewhere tomorrow morning and stock up on delicious treats and any other random items we realise we left behind. You'd be surprised how you can crave something as simple as a sip of Coke or a chocolate bar when you just can't possibly have one! I packed some "emergency rations", just in case, but now that weight isn't a problem, one can be less selective! Hopefully, we can manage to get as far afield as the Gateway shopping centre in Umhlanga, because that has everything.

I'll check in again later.

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