Greetings from the Brown. We are steaming towards Punta Arenas, making reasonable time (7-8 knots) in 12’-15’ seas with steady 20-25 knot Northwest winds. This report comes one day early, as little bird tells me I’ll be very busy over the next few days. We arrive Punta Arenas during the afternoon of Feb. 3rd. Friday night in Punta Arenas.

70°S. After our eXpendable Chief Scientist section (last week’s report) at 69° 36.5’S 103°W, we escaped the cul-de-sac by heading north and then east, following the ice edge we had inferred from satellite images from the National Sea Ice Center. Our plan was to follow the ice edge occupying stations 30 miles apart until we ran out of room. At our next station, we found a small void in the bergs for #209 at 69° 41.468’S, 102° 01.581’W. After 209 we retreated northwards, then proceeded Eastward again along the ice edge to # 210 at 69° 54.175’S, 100° 40.301’W and to our final station of the P18 line in 2016/2017: Station #211 completed Jan 28 at 01:28 GMT, 70° 00.04’S, 100° 14.4’W.

From that point a Soccom float, #12559, had recently surfaced at 94° 59.46’ W, 68° 04.74’S on Jan 23. A visit to that site was almost exactly on our way to Punta Arenas, so we picked our way back out of the ice to our truly final station, #212, at 68° 03.393’S 95° 0.043’W, sampling for O2, DIC, ALK, pH, Salts, REEs, iTag genetics and, for SOCCOM calibration, HPLC-pigments and POC.

Our transit to the Soccom station had occurred at a pedestrian pace, first because we were dodging icebergs, and for the latter half, due to engine troubles. Considering the weather to come, we elected to retain our 15 remaining weather hours to ease pressure on the ship personnel (engineering and navigation) during the return to Punta Arenas. Our final routefinding and deliberations were not taken lightly. After that final station, when I arrived at my desk I saw that the captain had kindly left me some reassurance: An image from the Chilean Navy indicating that we had, indeed, come to the end of the road on our journey Southward.

Ice cover map from the Chilean Navy. The Brown’s location was added by Capt. Kamphaus as a therapeutic measure.

We are busy stowing away eleven weeks’ worth of samples, reagents, instruments, supplies, gear and … clutter. Our goal over the next 36 hours is to clear out the laboratory spaces and staterooms so that the next expedition aboard the Brown, the 2017 Atlantic PNE cruise headed by one Dr. Renellys Perez, will be as trouble free and enjoyable as ours was. A hearty thank you to the officers, crew, and scientists aboard the Brown for a job well done!

  • Rolf Sonnerup and Sarah Purkey, Feb 1, 2017