St Maarten on arrival

St. Maarten on arrival. Photo: Wouter Hooijmans.

A lot on the island still needs to be fixed
On our way to the hotel Ramon, the taxi driver, showed us all the boats that washed up ashore and the buildings that are still in ruins. Something that had us wondering even more were the brand-new yachts and sailboats in the harbour, which are probably owned by tourists. As the remains have not yet been removed the contrast seems almost surreal. Still there is a lot on the Island that needs to be fixed. Nevertheless, the people on this Island are very friendly and warm towards to us.

Delayed container with our sampling material

The next day we had to get up early and were brought to the Pelagia. As the old crew made way for the new crew of leg 7 we installed ourselves and tried to find our way on board. Directly there is a friendly atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. This feeling of comfort is very important as we have to work well together in the coming weeks. However, the idea that we will sail the day after is quickly off track. Unfortunately, the container with equipment, necessary for the sampling during our expedition, was delayed by a few days. This meant that the planning made beforehand was going to be changed because with no equipment we cannot conduct our research.

Research vessel waits in the dock of St. Maarten. Photo: Wouter Hooijmans.

Permission for sampling
Planning the expedition might seem easier than it in reality is. You need to have permission from a coastal state in order to take your sample at a certain area. In order to get this permission you need to know the exact location and the exact dates. In some cases, such delays can make the permissions no longer valid and requesting new ones again might take a lot of time. Luckily, we still have permission to sample in the Gulf of Mexico. However, we need to arrive on time in Nassau as the crew of leg 8 will get on board on the 5th of April. Hence, with limited time thoughtful decisions need to be make and where necessary, stations will be cancelled to save some time. With no more than just an indication of when the container will arrive a meeting was set up: ‘how can we make the expedition still as scientifically valuable as possible?’ Thankfully, we managed to compromise as little science as possible while at the same time gaining back the time we’ve lost while waiting here in Sint Maarten.


NICO-student Joelle van der Sprong (UvA)