Calm seas, biscuits and Rockall

by Penny Holliday

This evening we are working stations up the flanks of the Rockall Bank towards the island of Rockall. We have crossed over the North Atlantic Current and are into the warm waters of the eastern subpolar gyre. When I walk out on deck I can feel the difference straight away – the air is warm and soft, and at 15°C much easier on the hands and face than the chilly winds of the Irminger Sea and Iceland Basin.

After what has felt like days and days of heavy seas, today has been a dream come true; light swell and that lovely warm air. When the swell is beam on to the ship (in other words coming from the side rather than from ahead or behind) the rolling is constant and extremely wearing. Apart from preventing us all from sleeping properly, even passing through a heavy door is tricky if you time things badly and end up pushing the door uphill through a roll. So what a delight it was to wake up to a steady ship again this morning; I’ve been in a cheerful mood all day as a result.

There has been some bad news to dampen my spirits slightly though – we have run out of biscuits with two more weeks to go onboard. Not only that, but my stock of daily chocolates is dwindling and will also run out before we dock in Immingham. I had packed enough boxes of chocolates for me to enjoy one truffle after lunch each day, but I had weakened on some days and had eaten more than my daily ration. Now I’m 4 days short, and I cant decide whether this will be good for me, or whether I should buy some of the out-of-date chocolate bars that are still in circulation. I think I may err on the side of being safe rather than sorry….

But I must say that the chocolate situation seems rather inconsequential when you consider the hardships that the person we are geographically nearest to is going through right now. Tomorrow morning we will see the island of Rockall, and we will get close enough to wave to Nick Hancock who is presently attempting a record stay alone on the rock. The weather has felt quite bad on the ship recently – but that doesnt come at all close to what he must have been experiencing on that tiny rocky ledge. What an incredible challenge he is undertaking. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to send some photographs of Rockall and maybe even of Nick himself – we wish him all the best.

Images: the beautiful sky this evening (by Penny Holliday)

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