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Peltic 2022: 25 September - Swansea docks and departure

Sunrise (Peter Howlett)

We were greeted with a glorious sunrise this morning (photo 1) and, even though it’s the end of September there was still some lovely warmth in the sun. The early morning sun lit up the small cargo vessel Swami arriving with a cargo of cement from Limerick, Ireland (photo 2). There was a fantastic array of reflections to be seen around the docks (photos 3 and 4) and

I thought it would be good to get a photo of the Endeavour in this lovely light. This entailed a 4.5km walk around to the other side of the King’s Dock – a pleasant undertaking after being on board for a day and a half. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get around far enough to get a beam on shot and had to settle for one from the quarter (photo 5).

CEFAS Endeavour alongside in Swansea dock (Peter Howlett)

On the way around I noticed a light vessel moored up at the Trinity House depot and was a little surprised to see it was the old Channel light vessel (photo 6), laid up having been replaced by a buoy in the middle of last year. There are very few light vessels left in service now and they’ll all be gone in the next few years. Two cranes standing sentinel over the dock made for some more great reflections in the water (photo 7).

Birds were sparse to begin with, although I did hear a few Skylark flying over at height, along with a few Meadow Pipits and the occasional Grey Wagtail. On the ground Robins were the most numerous species with one seemingly every 20-30m when cover allowed. By the time I walked back a few Chiffchaffs had appeared (photo 8).

Chiffchaff (Peter Howlett)

I walked to the opposite end of the dock to get a photo of the Endeavour from the bow but by this time it had clouded over, and the light wasn’t quite as interesting (photo 9). After lunch we found out that the engineers had been hard at work and managed to fix the technical issue and we would be sailing later in the afternoon – hurray, only 24 hours lost.

CEFAS Endeavour alongside (Peter Howlett)

The skies brightened in the afternoon with just a thin layer of altocumulus cloud which was dappled with numerous ‘hole punch clouds’ – this is where something triggers the water droplets making up the cloud to freeze with the ice dropping out of the cloud forming the circular or elliptical holes (photos 10 and 11).

The Swansea pilot boarded at 17:00, departure being delayed a few minutes by the incoming dredger City of Cardiff (photo 12) delivering a cargo of sand. Mooring lines were eventually cast off and Captain Paul deftly manoeuvred the Endeavour into the lock (photo 13) and then we were off on the journey around to the south coast, pausing to drop off the pilot onto the waiting pilot launch (photo 14). On the way out a forlorn tin hut on the jetty beyond the lock caught Nuala’s attention with a ‘but Peter – it’s just so gorgeous’ a comment I completely agreed with (photo 15). The aim is to calibrate the acoustic gear tomorrow somewhere around the Lizard and then begin transects on Tuesday morning.

Departing Swansea there was a little light left to get a view of the first lighthouse of the survey - Mumbles (photo 16) and the 255m bulk carrier Orient Cavalier (photo 17) anchored just offshore. The wind had been freshening steadily during the afternoon and was a steady 23-25 knots by sunset – so we can expect a few lumps and bumps through the night.

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