China's Antarctic ice breaker the Snow Dragon Thursday made a full-speed dash northward to cross the stormy westerlies on her journey home.
The captain of the vessel, Shen Quan, had originally planned to set sail Thursday afternoon after a one-day stopover on the edge of the Antarctic ice zone, waiting for a cyclone to pass through, but changed his mind on seeing the satellite weather report of another approaching cyclone, which will be even stronger.
He gave the "go" order at eight o'clock Thursday morning, trying to dodge the upcoming strong winds as the former cyclone scaled down.
"Though our ship is riding a tidal wave under the influence of the westerlies, it will calm down little by little, because usually there are two or three days of good weather in the interval between two cyclones," Shen said.
"We shall take our time and reach the coast of Australia safely after crossing the westerlies," he added.
During the one-day stopover Wednesday, the crew collected various samples of animals and plants in the sea, which are precious finds during this season.
The Snow Dragon, or Xuelong in Chinese, with over 100 researchers aboard, is the 24th scientific expedition by China to the Antarctic.
It wound up its mission Monday, completing 37 scientific studies and 10 logistical programs despite rough seas and severe snowstorms.
The vessel is expected to return to China's coastal city of Shanghai on April 15 after a five-month journey.