Thursday, 11 October 2012

Boarding Discovery for the first time (Gwyn Griffiths)

Downtown Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, Tenerife, 28 November 1976. That’s the place and date I first saw, and stepped aboard, RRS Discovery. Some six weeks earlier I had started work as an instrument engineer at the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences at Wormley. Cruise 80 was to be my first experience at sea, under the tutorship of John Smithers as the expert on the apparatus for measuring conductivity (for salinity), temperature, and depth, the CTD. We had arrived two days before sailing, and there was time for a trip by hire-car to the volcano at the heart of the island, Pico del Teide. With four of us on board, the little car struggled climbing the foothills, but we made it to the cable car station. After the ride, a not-too-arduous path took us to the summit at 3,718 metres above sea level. The view was magnificent.

There were then final preparations before sailing and, in the evening, the last meal ashore was, in a phrase I was to hear many more times over the years, “this little place that I know where …”. In Santa Cruz in November 1976, my recollection is that this was a shack not too far from the shore over some very rough ground to the south of the wharf. Squid and Fundador seemed like a good combination at the time. At sea the next morning, it proved to be anything but.


Monumento a los Caídos (Monument to the Fallen of the Spanish Civil War), Plaza de España de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, as I photographed it in 1976, left, and, pedestrianized, in 2010. The blue sky does not change
Teide from part way up, and John Smithers at the peak