Things are starting to become serious on the second day. It’s time to hit the road…uhhh no – to set sail and head off for Iceland! After settling and unpacking each single box containing lab equipment such as chemicals, microscopes, small bottles, large bottles, medium bottles, tools and a lot more, R/V Sonne is released from the ropes that are tying her to the pier. Hooting solemnly to say good-bye to R/V Maria S. Merian (one of the other German research vessels), who is lying alongside to us, R/V Sonne starts her engines to cast off. But before going anywhere we need to pass the lock that keeps the (very) low tide on the mudflats out of the harbour area and ensures the under-keel clearance. I can tell you, it is quite fascinating to see such a large vessel entering such a small gap and still being overtaken by other ships – the captain certainly knows what he is doing.
We leave the lock safely and now the open ocean is waiting for us. Our journey continues and passing huge wind parks, we go north, north, north… On the way up we will cross the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of three countries: the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. EEZs are those areas of the ocean that (except for some special cases) extend to 200 nm beyond the land-water-mark. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), each country has sovereign rights in ‘their’ EEZ, meaning that no scientific operations (and no fishing, drilling etc.) is allowed to take place without permission. Thus, any research work and all its details have to be announced, depending on the country, up to 6 months in advance and approval has to be granted. Bearing this in mind and considering the Corona situation, it hasn’t been possible to apply on time for research permission in every country’s EEZ that is being passaged. Hence, there is some transit time which is very well used to get organised and plan the actions for station 1, located north-west of the Faeroe islands in the Norwegian basin. It’s just a tiny little bit south of the polar circle (65° N, 0° E)! But more on this tomorrow!