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04 Mar - Back South After Fourteen Months !

RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary

Position @ 1200 UTC - 3 hours: 49°07' South. 057°22' West.
Next destination: Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands.
ETA: 5 March 2001 at 0800 local time.
Distance to go: 193.2 nautical miles.
Total Distance Sailed: 21,474.6 nautical miles (Since departing Hull, England on 19 October 2000).
Current weather:
Wind: NNW, Force 7 to 8.
Barometric pressure: 986.7 mb, falling.
Sea state: Moderate to rough.
Air temperature: +12.5°C.
Sea temperature: +9.5°C.

Captain Marshall and his crew flew from Heathrow airport on Monday lunchtime, via Chicago, and arrived in Montevideo the following day. After a good night's rest to recover, they then joined the vessel on Wednesday 28 February. The handover period then started, with all of Captain Lawrence's team having left by the afternoon of Thursday 1 March, just prior to the vessel embarking a pilot to enable it to sail. The weather in Montevideo was mixed, being very hot and humid but with some heavy rain showers on Thursday morning.

At 1930 UTC the vessel had safely dropped off the pilot to his launch and was making towards the Falkland Islands.

It is nearly fourteen months since we were last 'south', having flown home from the Falklands in January 2000 and then worked during the UK summer months in the North Sea, so we are looking forward once again to do the job we all love to do.

The first order of the day was to have a complete muster for lifeboats and fire/emergency on Friday morning, to ensure that we remained familiar with the equipment onboard and its correct operation.

With fair weather and moderate seas the vessel is making good progress towards Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands, and our ETA is 1100 UTC on Monday 5 March. It is not known if it will be possible to get alongside the berth at this time or if we will have to anchor off and wait for a cargo vessel to depart.

Where is RRS Ernest Shackleton?

As this week's page is limited in size due to lack of time (due to handover period and getting back into the job following our leave period) I have added below a few links that may prove interesting to those who follow our progress. They will be added to the 'weather' section above in future weeks and amended appropriately as we head north in April.

Both RRS Ernest Shackleton and RRS James Clark Ross send in regular weather updates, referred to as OBS, and these are sent via satellite to The Bracknell Weather Centre. From there they are then distributed worldwide and following a lot of searching, I have found a site (OceanWeather) that produces a map showing the vessel's position. In effect these positions are updated every six hours, although there are times when a vessel may not be able to send in a weather report, either due to being in port or being restricted due to navigational duties.

To use the the OceanWeather site, the vessel's callsign will be required as it is this that is shown next to a symbol showing the actual position and the current wind speed and direction. The callsign for Ernest Shackleton is ZDLS1, James Clark Ross is ZDLP. The German Antarctic vessel Polarstern is DBLK and she was working in the area when I checked the site at the end of February.

Should you not see the ship's callsign on the map, then it means that there was no observation reported for that period. If this is the case you can still find out where we are and what the weather is like with us (or indeed James Clark Ross) by looking at the second set of links below. This is taken from a site at BAS HQ and will always show the last weather OBS received, even if a new one has not been posted for a few days whilst the vessel is in port.

Ernest Shackleton
James Clark Ross

The following will explain the information in the first section of the page, I will explain the raw data in a later page:

· Ship: ZDLS1 Date 2001/2/21:06 Lat: -52.3 Lon: -39.8;
Ship call, date and time. Negative Lat indicates south, negative Long indicates west. Eg 52.6S 039.8W.

· Ship pressure: null; MSLP: 1001.8; PTND: 5.5 (7 (code table 200))
MSLP is Mean Sea Level Pressure in millibars (1001.8mb), and PTND refers to the trend.

· T: 3.9 Air temperature

· Dew T: 3.7 Dewpoint temperature

· Wind Dir, Speed, Unit: 10 22 kts (anemometer) Wind direction is 10° and the speed is 22 knots, measured by the anemometer. It is usually estimated as this is considered to be more accurate.

· Cloud (oktas): 8
Cloud cover is measured in oktas, meaning eighths. 8 oktas is complete cloud cover, 4 oktas means only 4/8 of the sky is covered and so on.

Please note that RRS Ernest Shackleton is due to be alongside the berth at Mare Harbour from Monday 5 through to Thursday 8 March and so will not show up on the Ocean Weather site as OBS are not sent whilst in port.

The next page will be written on the 11 March 2001 and should be published on the 12 March 2001.


Weekly diary entries