The first pandemic wave seems to have levelled off for Europe. Restrictions have taken hold and are being gradually eased again regionally, which is leading to a resurgence of infection rates in individual cases. So far, however, the situation is still bearable, but not without concern, especially since there is still neither a pervasively effective medication nor a vaccine. Now that the airports have reopened in the Azores too, I am once again being called upon by a shipping company to urgently seek a ship’s doctor. For me it is a welcome change to spend five weeks on the German research vessel “Meteor”, participating in a scientific project that studies marine particles from their source to their deposition and embedding off Northwest Africa.
So it is time to say goodbye for a few weeks to my island paradise, where I have already made some friends. I will take a few summer impressions from Santa Maria and Ponta Delgada on São Miguel with me before I go via Lisbon to Hamburg for a seaworthiness examination and then on to Leer in East Frisia. There, everyone will have to undergo a three-day quarantine before boarding the ship. During this time a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test will also be carried out. After all measures have been passed without complications, the ship will leave for Emden. In the evening the colleagues from the sister ship “Maria S. Merian” invite us to a barbecue on board. The “Maria S. Merian” also sets sail the following day for a research cruise and lies right next to the “Meteor” in the Emden Dockyard. A few hundred metres further on lies the “Sonne”, the latest flagship of the German government’s research fleet, which I had the pleasure of accompanying last year as ship’s doctor in the South China Sea. Due to the pandemic, the planned research voyages of the German research fleet got quite out of sync, as the ships are no longer allowed to dock in foreign ports for infection control reasons. Therefore, Emden is for the time being always the starting and end point of all voyages of the German research fleet. In the first few days there is a lot to do to set up my hospital, examination and treatment room, computer network, new software, X-ray, operating theatre, pharmacy and intensive care unit after the handover, in addition to moving into my cabin. The rest of the crew and the scientists will not arrive until the day before departure on August 3, 2010. I am looking forward to the coming weeks on board.