The packing has begun… am I overpacking? What am I forgetting? Will I really need that? Is there space for another bag of coffee? Do I have enough movies/games/books to keep me occupied in my down time?
One would think that after a number of years working on Antarctic research projects, I would be better prepared to pack for a trip. However, this trip is a little different. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot travel directly to Punta Arenas, Chile to board the research vessel. This time we have to fly to San Francisco, CA to board the ship and take it all the way south to Antarctica! This means spending nearly three months on the ship, non-stop!
Packing is challenging because we will go through so many different climates on our way to get to Antarctica… temperate, tropics, and then moving into the more polar regions. With a limited amount of baggage space, clothing choices are much more important this time for sure.
Additionally, I have to make sure that I have enough work to stay busy and productive during the trip until we get to our Antarctic field sites, along with making sure I have enough things (movies, books, music, games) to keep myself sane during the extensive amount of down time!
In terms of a timeline, we leave home on September 20, 2020 and we will board the ship sometime around September 24, 2020 in San Francisco, CA. From there we will travel to Port Hueneme, CA on September 25 and will stay there in quarantine until October 8, 2020. After this, we will head south for Punta Arenas, Chile where we are due to arrive on November 2, 2020. In Punta Arenas, we will be refueled and take on supplies and equipment. In order to maintain quarantine, no personnel from our teams will leave the ship while in port. After a few days, we will begin our trip across the Drake Passage to Antarctica to start our field work, with an estimated return date to Chile of December 15, 2020.
Dr. Andrew Mahon
Professor of Biology, Central Michigan University