We got up at 4am in anticipation of the JCR arriving, too nervous to sleep longer and still needing to transfer our samples from various different freezers to our sample crates to go straight into the JCR freezers when on board. Shortly before 6am, as I carried my last bag outside, I saw the JCR appear on the horizon, creeping gracefully, and somewhat eerily, through the still morning light, into view behind the headland towards the caleta. It was a memorable sight, and very exciting to watch as it manoeuvred its way into the caleta with such grace. Bang on 6am as scheduled it stopped in front of Jubany, where the Castillo and Chilean Navy ships, seemingly guarding the fort, were ready to greet her.
It was very exciting to hear the Captain over the radio announcing the JCR’s arrival and business – this was the first British voice to hear since our arrival into Punta seven weeks ago! Next came the unloading of kit to store at Jubany, brought by a group of people in a huge tender and all done with great British efficiency. It was very exciting to see our first British people in seven weeks, but also sad knowing we were leaving what had become our new family and home for this time. There was hardly time to say goodbye as the wind was picking up and we couldn’t hang around but we gave our final hugs to our Dallmann and Jubany family and we were off!
The tender journey was a mix of emotions, on the one hand waving sad goodbyes, yet on the other hand feeling excited at meeting new friendly faces, knowing we were embarking on a new adventure on our journey home and, of course, a little apprehensive about what oceanic experiences were yet to come. As we passed along the shore in front of Jubany our Jubany family lined along the shore to wave us off.
I couldn’t believe it when we were lifted by a huge winch in the tender to the ship – no rope ladder to clutch and cling on to as we had done on our arrival in the Maximiliano several weeks earlier! We were warmly welcomed by all we met on board – even the cook poked his head out to welcome us aboard, complete with sumptuous smells of cooking. We were given our safety briefing, a quick tour of our new “home” and then later had lunch with the Captain. After only a few hours sleep I wasn’t very hungry but was excited to see there was lettuce and salad on board – something I had missed since we left South America and had ended up craving since my arrival in Antarctica. After lunch we had the lifeboat drill and then a much needed siesta before dinner.
We later passed Elephant Island which was beautifully clear in the evening sun, while opposite Clarence Island was covered in a fine mist. Amazing and spectacular sights. I stayed outside on the monkey deck marvelling at the views until I got too cold and migrated inside to somewhere warmer. Later I was lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the ship, heading on a journey I wasn’t expecting to experience only a few weeks ago. Our original journey home was going to be by Argentinian military plane via Buenos Aires but a change in plan means we now get to visit new places and travel the route of our field sites which extend from the South Shetland Islands to South Georgia.