Trial cruise in the North Sea

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Posting by Tianzhen Zhang, The Second Institute of Oceanography, SOA, China

Since March 11th, I have been visiting the Institute of Coastal Research at Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. I live in the HZG Guesthouse and the people I meet here are very nice and friendly. After safety training and preparation in the laboratory, I go to a trial cruise in the North Sea with Dr. Zhiyong Xie, and the other two visiting scholars, Dr. Xindong Ma and Lijie Mi from 9th to 18th April 2018.

This is my first time attending a voyage abroad, everything here is fresh and very interesting for me. The research vessel LUDWIG PRANDTL looks cool, which is operated by the captain Helmut Bornhöft and the chief engineer Detlef Heinze. My main job on the ship is to collect water samples and filter seawater by GF/F membrane for TOCPOC and pigments measurements at every station.

Photo: Zhiyong Xie

The German scientific research vessel is clean and orderly, and it really surprises me that there are only two men working on the vessel — a captain and a chief engineer. Another place which is different from the Chinese expedition vessel is that there is a small tidy kitchen on this boat and we could cook lunch for ourselves at noon, which is also new to me.

Since we work offshore, we often encounter various kinds of boats. On the second day we met a small fishing boat, on the third day we encountered a warship in the open sea and that was the first time I saw a warship at such a close distance. We also encountered two large cargo ships, one of them was too close to our vessel and forced us to make an emergency turn, which was also an exciting experience. On the fourth day working in the river Weser, I saw the yachts and the windmill generator on both sides of the river, which often appear in the movies. I also saw the sewage outlets discharge sewage into the river directly, which may be the same throughout the world I think 🙂

Due to the fresh gale in the past two days and the bad sea condition, we had to live in a small town called Norddeich. This is a scenic seaside town with a large sandy beach where you can see a beautiful sunset. After a short break, we will continue to sail, and I am looking forward to the next voyage.

Photo: Zhiyong Xie

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