What you learn aboard a sailing ship: The sea is the boss!
What no one expected, became reality. As the Thor was heading towards Gdansk, a storm hit the ship and a wild Baltic sea – with wind speeds of 7-8 and waves high enough to roll over the railing. Quite clear: our teams on leg 3 were in trouble. No message could get through, the sea was too wild for taking pictures – and there was not a single thought to be spent on science. More than half of the crew, including the professional sailors, were seasick. At times, there were not enough people in a healthy enough condition to man the watches. Those who were able to show up on deck did the jobs for the rest. Sad to say: most of the food taken in went over the rail a little time later!
One young scientist was completely dehydrated and had to be put under medication. Fortunately, on leg 3, there’s the team from the Medical faculty on board, meaning we have some experienced doctors on the Thor who were able to help where necessary.
Yet – unbelievably almost – spirits were still optimistic. Everyone was showing solidarity, helping each other out, lending a hand where it was needed. And even though this had no immediate effect on creativity in terms of new ideas and thoughts on material science, immunology or chemistry it definitely helped to develop resilience under extreme conditions – a capability that cannot be esteemed highly enough in a researcher!
Once again, the captain had to make a difficult choice: under the circumstances there was no way to continue onto Gdansk. The Thor was rolling, pitching, heaving through the seas, and even at full motor there was no chance to make the necessary more than 3.5 knots. The powerful, yet well advanced in years, engine fought against the storm, but consumed far too much diesel and after a while had a cooling problem. Johannes decided to change route – and to head for Gotland in Sweden instead, which was the land closest to the position and easiest to reach.
So unfortunately, the researcher crew would have no chance to see beautiful Gdansk. No chance to present their research to the public in Poland. No chance to meet up with old and newly built up contacts during an Open Ship Day. But that’s the way it is, especially on board a sailing ship. Life is always good for a surprise!
Sorry, Gdansk! We’ll make up for that some other time!