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Two Weeks to Go!

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Today in two weeks’ time the team (Ian, Jenna, Nicola, Tebogo and our colleagues from Antarctic Microbial Ecology Gwynneth, Karin and Sunet) will depart for Antarctica! What can you expect on this day? Be prepared to be there early and to spend a lot of time doing nothing much. But it is most certainly an experience and don’t miss this chance to wave off a friend or family member on their trip of a lifetime. The SA Agulhas II is an absolute beauty! And on November 30 you can also meet the other members of the relief voyage: oceanographers, geologists, meteorologists, engineers, pilots, chefs, medical personnel, support and logistics personnel, sailors, the captain, and so many more. The relief voyage includes a plethora off fields, skills and talents and one of the most wonderful aspects of being a participant to such a trip is that you get to spend three months with so many varied and interesting people. On the docks you will also be introduced to the new team  (S56) that will spend a year at SANAE IV. (You can see what the current year team has been up to here.) Their families will also be there to wave them off, as will journalists and other members of the media.

You might also think that you will see only scientists on the dock. This won’t be the case, since most voyage berths are taken up by support personnel (the silent heroes of such a voyage). However, this is as it should be and the support personnel ensure that the science can in fact take place. The relief voyage would never happen without funding from the National Research Foundation, (under the Department of Science and Technology), and the tireless work done by the Department of Environmental Affairs employees that work in the Oceans and Islands Directorate. The Department of Public Works ensures that SANAE IV is maintained and in tip-top condition. This year they will continue with some major renovations and upgrades to the base. Finally, the South African National Defence Force provides the drivers and cooks for the voyage. Without the support personnel the relief voyage participants would, quite literally, have to trek their scientific equipment and food to SANAE IV themselves, cook for themselves while at base and spend time (that could otherwise be spent on scientific inquiry) on the general day-today-running and maintenance of the base.

The participants of the relief voyage generally board the ship around 12:00, but this can also be earlier depending entirely on the requirements of the day. The ship normally departs by 14:00 but this can also change due to unforeseen circumstances. If you do go to the pier to say goodbye to a friend or family member prepare yourself for an emotional and long day. Bring water, sun screen, a hat and even a camping chair if you wish (a recommended list of what to bring appears below). Nevertheless, it is absolutely worth it and we hope to see you there! And don’t forget that 1 December is Antarctica Day! The team will already be on the ship but they will join the numerous institutions and individuals around the globe in celebrating this day. For more and what will happen for Antarctica Day around the world click here.

What to bring:

  • Water and some snacks (it’ll be a long day);
  • Sun screen;
  • A hat;
  • Your camera;
  • Some tissues (if you are prone to shed a tear, or just to have on hand for those shedding away);
  • A (small) camping chair (if you wish);
  • Comfortable shoes (you’ll be standing quite a while and you might have to walk to the V&A Waterfront to buy some last-minute things for your friend or family member);
  • Presents and gifts for the ones you are waving off. They will be on-board for Christmas (probably). Give them something small to unpack on the ship – it makes all the difference!;
  • Your phone (to take down those last-minute numbers);
  • Cash and/or your credit card (to buy those last-minute items your friend or family member needs before the voyage, or FOR the voyage);
  • PATIENCE!!! Leaving for Antarctica requires months and months of planning and people from all walks of life working together – there are always some minor hiccoughs so please be patient and don’t get annoyed when the ship leaves a bit later than planned; and
  • Good cheer and lots of smiles. Have fun! You don’t get to do this very often.

Where to go:

 Address: East Pier Road, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002, South Africa

Coordinates: -33.9019591, 18.4264933

#Antarctica #LPiAE #SAAghulasII #SANAEIV #SAreliefvoyage #stayingintouch #familyandfriends #Agulhasdeparture #30November

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