Sunday morning in Port Victoria
The atmosphere on board the S.A. Agulhas II on this Sunday morning, 30 October, is very different from the excitement of the previous day’s arrival in Port Victoria, Seychelles, which marked both the end of the first phase of the expedition and the halfway point. The thirty students and the teachers of the onboard school have left the ship, as have most of the participants who will not be on the second phase. Their successors are expected in the late afternoon.
This short respite is an opportunity to reflect on this first phase.
For the expedition leader, as for the ship’s captain, there is first of all the satisfaction of having brought everyone back safely to port and of having completed almost all the planned programme. We have of course a special thought for the diver who was the victim of an accident during the launching of a boat on 20 October: he was fortunately able to return to his home in the United Kingdom this Saturday after a series of check that reassured us about his condition.
The departure from Cape Town 27 days ago seems a long way off as there has been so much activity since then. After two setup calls in Mauritius and Reunion, then the hydrology stations and the Manta net lines that punctuated the transit from Reunion to Aldabra, the sequence in Aldabra mobilized all the energies. Thanks to the excellent cooperation with the staff of the Seychelles Islands Foundation on the island, we were able to combine intensive scientific work and discovery outings, at least for the students, whose dazzled eyes on their return were great to see. They will also remember, like all the participants and the crew, the visit of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, whose simplicity and attentive listening made a lasting impression.
After this sequence in Aldabra, the CTD station and Manta net transects once again punctuated the transit towards the island of Mahe. The ‘live’ programme organized on Friday afternoon between the ship and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco for the ‘Oceano for All’ club resulted in exchanges as rich as spontaneous between the young budding explorers and the scientists and artists on board.
A great moment of conviviality on Friday evening with the “Braai” (barbecue) organized on the helicopter platform, bringing together crew and participants in a cordial, relaxed and … dancing atmosphere which revealed hidden dancing talents! This atmosphere was the icing on the cake of the activities carried out during this first phase.
Let us make sure that the second phase runs smoothly in the same tone!
Port Victoria, 30 October 2022
Gilles Bessero, Expedition Leader