by Penny Holliday
With bright sunshine and calm seas, today was a perfect day to see Rockall. I’ve been to this same place eight times since 1996, but this is only the fourth time I’ve seen the iconic rock itself; the rest of the time the weather had been bad and visibility too poor. Rockall has a special place in my heart because I have been studying the ocean around here for 18 years, and the data that hardy oceanographers known as the Rockall Rangers had collected since 1975 formed the basis of my PhD work.
We passed Rockall twice this morning. The first time we were steaming between CTD stations about a mile from the island and the second time we passed by close enough to wave at Nick Hancock and get some great photos as we started our journey northwards towards Iceland. Seeing Nick and his tiny pod balanced on a small rocky ledge gave a real sense of scale, and the island seemed even smaller and remote to me than it had before.
It was fun to see him there though – he looking at us through his binoculars, us looking back through ours – him taking a selfie with JCR in the background, us posing for photos on the monkey island with him in the background. The bridge made radio contact with him and by all accounts he is well and didnt need any supplies or help from us. To me his challenge seems crazy and dangerous, but I have resolved to make a contribution to his fund raising effort when we get back on land.
The sojourn to Rockall was brief, but we will return again in a few days time. Our next piece of work is a CTD section from Rockall to south of Iceland – when that is done we will steam back to see Rockall again, and pick up the main OSNAP line again, working a CTD section back to the Scottish coast.
Images: views of Rockall (all by Penny Holliday except the one of me, that was taken by Eithne Tynan)