With One Ocean Expedition from Singapore to Jakarta: - An experience for life

The exotic trip on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl in the Southeast Asia will not be forgotten by Kamilla Hope Kleppenes and Ingrid Weltzien anytime soon. Read their travelogue and see the beautiful photos from their fantastic trip!

Wikborg Rein is a proud sponsor of the One Ocean Expedition, a research expedition inspired by the UN decade of ocean science for sustainable development. Last year, the Norwegian ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl started on a circumnavigation, where research is conducted at sea along the way. The aim of the expedition is to find out more about human impact on the different oceans, as well as to raise awareness about issues related to sustainable aquaculture.

In connection with this, two of our employees were sent out to participate in one of the expedition stages, from Singapore to Jakarta in Indonesia. Kamilla Hope Kleppenes and Ingrid Weltzien are back in Norway now and have written a travelogue from their experience: 

Ship ahoy!

On 1 November 2022, we showed up with great expectations at the pier in Singapore, ready to set sail for six days and 722 nautical miles to Jakarta.

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Upon entering our new floating home, it quickly became apparent that we were going to sleep very close to one another in hammocks hanging on hooks from the ceiling. We were going to swing side by side with around 120 strangers, in rhythm to the waves of the ship.

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Safely on board the first thing on the agenda was to be divided into teams. The ship is operated by three different teams, each of which is on duty at four hours at a time, twice a day. The ship is staffed by one team at all times, and each team is led by an experienced team leader. We were both assigned on the blue team, and were on duty from 08:00 to 12:00 and from 20:00 to midnight. When changing shifts, both of the crews are lined up on deck. It was therefore important that everyone showed up at the right time. 

Typical shift tasks were keeping an eye out for and reporting ships or objects we could see on the horizon, steering the ship, go on "fire rounds" and report if anyone fell overboard. Fortunately, no one fell overboard on our leg of the expedition. We were also given the chance to challenge our fear of heights when climbing the rig.

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Apart from the usual tasks, a central task for the team on duty is to assist with the sails. This is comparable with an intensive rope pulling competition, where a bunch of inexperienced sailors try to learn the difference between ropes with names such as "stump" and "gording," and then try to pull the right rope as rhythmically as possible – with varying luck.

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The research on board

One of the key objectives of the One Ocean Expedition is marine research, as well as raising awareness associated with sustainable aquaculture. The data collected as part of this research is openly available, enabling researchers all over the world to make use of the data.

Some countries are more restrictive than others in granting researchers permission to research in their waters. Unfortunately, the ship had not been granted access to conduct research on our leg of the expedition, but we were told how the research normally takes place on board. At all times, there are researchers participating in the expedition with fixed tasks related to measurements and observations on board. They record data and information about the amount of macro and microplastics in the different seas, and sea temperatures at different depths and wave heights, to mention some examples. Observations of mammals such as whale or dolphin are also recorded, and the same goes for any fish caught along the way. The researchers have a fishing rod in the sea at all times, but unfortunately there was no catch during our voyage.

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Martin Bua Rønhovde (pictured) and Erik Furevik gave talks about the research on board One Ocean

 

Despite a limited amount of research during the course of the leg we were involved in, we were lucky enough to see dolphins playing in the waves of the ship several days. 

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Baptized by King Neptune

The leg between Singapore and Jakarta crosses the Equator, and this calls for a formal baptism, where king Neptune himself is the baptizer. The permanent crew on the ship volunteered as Neptune's willing assistants, and  everyone on the ship who had not previously crossed the Equator was thoroughly submerged in ice water. We were also forced to drink a homemade soup that was cooked in connection with the passing of the Equator. The content of the soup remained a well-preserved secret, but we can reveal it was not a great culinary experience.

We later got an introduction to historical Norwegian sailor tattoos and learned that after crossing the Equator, one qualifies for a turtle tattoo. We were in other words close to booking tattoo appointments upon arrival in Jakarta, to document this achievement in a real seaman’s way.

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Sing-along at sea

We also quickly learnt that sing-along was a mandatory activity on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl.  The Director and Expedition Manager, Håkon Steinar Vatle, turned out to be the king of sea shanties. After a bit of training we were an engaged bunch who sang along.

In addition to several evenings of singing, there was also a separate quiz night organised by the crew. The questions were very difficult – awfully irritating to those of us with a high level of competitive spirit! 

An experience for life

The week on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl will not be forgotten anytime soon. We met a great bunch of people, experienced an unfamiliar feeling of calm after several days without cell phone coverage or internet access, and learned a lot about both marine research and sailing.

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Statsraad Lehmkuhl is now continuing on its journey, and is currently sailing from Jakarta to Mauritius. The expedition is scheduled to be completed on 15 April 2023, when the ship returns to its home port in Bergen.

We look forward to following the journey!

Official updates from the expedition can be found here.