Authors : Lea Nupnau, Joans Frère and Simon Delsol
Early in the morning, Reunion Island greeted us with a hot humid weather and sunshine after several hours of flight from the different parts of France and South Africa. We were picked up by a bus that dropped us off directly at “Le Port“ where the ship “Marion Dufresne“ was moored. The preparations, such as the boarding of scientific instruments (and food) had already been going on for the past couple of days. After all, during the next 5 weeks, there will be no more opportunities to pick up anything that might have been forgotten.
Once arrived on the ship, we spent the next hour by finalizing the administrative paperwork and assigning the cabins. The cabins typically comprise a bunk-bed with curtains, a desk, a wardrobe and an individual bathroom. Typically two students are staying together in one cabin which is illuminated by a little viewport on the ocean.
After everyone settled in, we had our first official meeting during which we received some more details about the different organizational aspects of life on-board. Of course we wanted to find out how to access (the very limited) wifi but we also got a briefing about the importance to respect certain schedules such as for meetings and lunch. In the following we did a tour of the Marion Dufresne during which the most of us finally realized, that, from now on, our radius will be limited to this impressive 120 m long ship. We learned about the different floors on the ship, the meeting areas, the scientific headquarters, the decks, the bar and the dining space and also which areas are restricted such as the machine rooms.
As the last meal we had was the breakfast on the plane, we were quite happy to have our first lunch meal on the boat at 11:00, which consisted of a 4 course menu. Lunch was followed by another meeting to organize our outreach activities that we will do during the whole trip.
Before joining the obligatory safety briefing and a practice session in which an emergency situation was simulated, we got some time off to relax. Once everything had been approved for departure, the Marion Dufresne was ready to leave towards Mauritius Island at about 17:30. Most of us and many others were really excited to witness this moment, so we found ourselves and many more people on the top deck as the sun which was slowly setting. The crew had been busily moving on all parts of the ship. Once the boat had left to the open sea the cloud of spectators on deck slowly dispersed. Some of the scientists were still finishing the set-up of their lab, we as students kept ourselves occupied by enjoying a social moment at an apéro or still trying to get some rest before dinner at 19:15.
The day was concluded by the presentation of the different research teams, followed by a well-deserved sleep with the humming and the movement the ship in the background.