Getting rid of old stinky mattresses

We really like our little boat, but even Esben and I have to admit that the smell it has inside is not great. It’s the kind that you don’t notice straight away, but as you come home and have showered you realize that everything you brought back kinda still has that smell. It’s probably a mix of diesel, old sweat and dirt. I tend to not find it too bad because it reminds me of sailing in my childhood, but when we had some the mattresses in our bedroom for a while it became really obvious. Something needed to be done.

We started with the mattresses. Partly because of the smell, and partly because they had become somewhat thin over the past 46 years, and just needed to be replaced. After a bit of googling, I realized that a sewing machine is not that expensive compared to paying for new mattresses, so we invested in a SINGER Heavy Duty 4423, some sunbrella fabric and closed cell mattresses. And with some help from sailrite I got started on the v-berth. We cut the mattresses with our biggest knife, it didn’t exactly look professional, but it was alright. Despite of not having used a sewing machine since I went to school, it all came together alright, with the help of the sailrite videos.

The shop had sent us mor of the sunbrella fabric than we ordered, so I managed to make the mattress for Runas bed from the same fabric – nice, sunbrella is not exactly cheap.

For the dinette we wanted a thicker type of fabric and ended up ordering a grey sunbrellay, which turned out to be really nice, and easier to sew than the v-berth fabric. The sewing machine did great, and all in all we’re really happy that we took on the project. But I have to admit that I now understand why it’s so expensive to get this work done professionally; it takes a long time and it’s not easy.


The project ended up costing 1200 euro, sewing machine included. It would have been a lot cheaper if we had not chosen to use sunbrella, but hopefully it will last us for a long time. And hopefully it will take a while before they take on that familiar smell of diesel!

Polarstern in Bremerhaven

“But where were the polar bears?” We were all on our way back to the car after visiting AWI’s ice breaker, the Polarstern – and Mattis has learned enough about my work to know that Polarstern equals ice and snow, which apparently equals polar bears. But they were not there. We did, however, see a helicopter, labs, sleeping quarters and even a film with penguins – but no polar bears.

For the past couple of years my work has focused on modeling the the Arctic Ocean biogeochemistry, and this summer I will probably participate in a cruise between Svalbard and Greenland. This area is called the Fram Strait, and it’s one of the main gateways to the Arctic, where AWI has monitored the water for several years to help explain how and why the Arctic Ocean is changing.

So when the Polarstern opened its’ doors for the public this weekend, we waited in line for the kids to see where I will go this summer. We actually had to wait in line for 2.5 hours… But Esben and I took turns in the queue, while the kids went around with the other one to check out the many activities. We saw ROV’s filming and taking samples under water, talked to the scientific divers and decorated a Polarstern bag to bring home with us. And for lunch Runa chose a bratwurst of course, we are after all almost real Germans.

And finally, after going through a metal detector and becoming registered we were allowed inside the Polarstern accompanied by our new friends from the long wait. It was nice to show the kids where I worked the last time I went and where I will be this summer. And we talked about the many different nets and machines, had a look in a microscope, saw the helicopter and even the air balloon, which the kids know from a book at home. Esben noted that the bridge had even more instruments than Jensine does, which is rather impressive, and it was cool for them to see where many of the pictures from the Polarstern have been taken.

It’s been five years since I last went on a cruise on the Polarstern. Back then my work focused on modeling Southern Ocean biogeochemistry, and especially the trace metal iron, and I was lucky to go on a 10-week cruise from Cape Town in South Africa to Punta Arenas in South America. My group was responsible for measuring chlorophyll and particulate organic carbon on the way, while others measured nutrient concentrations, oxygen, salinity, temperature etc.  All in all, it gave an overview of the conditions in the ocean when we were there and helped understand how the physics controls the biology to some degree. Apart from the interesting science, it’s quiet a privilege to go to such a special place as the Southern Ocean, and I am sure the next cruise will be another great experience.