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25 Mar - Falkland Islands to South Georgia

RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary

Position @ 1200 UTC - 3 hours: 2 cables off Hobart Rock, Cumberland Bay, and the entrance to King Edward Cove.
Next destination: Signy Island.
ETA: 27 March 2001.
Distance to go: 555 nautical miles.
Total Distance Sailed: 24,962.7 nautical miles (Since departing Hull, England on 19 October 2000).

Current weather:
Wind: W'ly, x 5 kts.
Barometric pressure: 993 mb
Sea state: Slight.
Air temperature: +0.7°C.
Sea temperature: +3.3°C.
Last weather observation sent from the RRS Ernest Shackleton

The passage north from Jubany was fairly uneventful with a rough following/quarterly  sea and the vessel rolling and pitching throughout Monday.

Tuesday afternoon saw us arrive off Choiseul Sound, Falkland Islands, but with a SSW wind at 35 knots it was not possible for us to berth alongside. The situation was again reviewed in the early evening and after looking at the local forecast it was decided that we would berth on Wednesday morning at 0700. The night was spent slow steaming up and down the coast.

Wednesday morning and conditions had improved such that we made our way into East Cove and once again berthed on the small West Jetty. By the time we had all the lines ashore and the gangway down it was time for some thirty of our passengers to disembark for the short journey to Mount Pleasant Airport and the flight back to the UK. We just got them ashore in time!

Cargo work commenced and waste from Rothera was discharged ashore and cargo for South Georgia and Bird Island was loaded.

During the evening a reception was held onboard for members of the military garrison, to let them see the ship and find out more about what it is that we do. Some twenty five guests arrived and had an enjoyable few hours onboard.

During Thursday the ship took some 600,000 Liters of Dieso F-76 (diesel fuel oil) from the supply vessel Seabulk Condor, who had taken the fuel from the Single Point Mooring (SPM) buoy the previous day and had come alongside on Wednesday evening. The pumping rate was in the order of 80,000 Liters per hour.

With bunkering completed and cargo secured for sea, RRS Ernest Shackleton left the West Jetty, East Cove, at about 1800L on Thursday, setting course for South Georgia.

The passage time from East Cove to King Edward Point, South Georgia, is about two days and eighteen hours. Our passage was unenventful with a following sea, making it a very pleasant crossing. On Saturday evening we came close to the RRS James Clark Ross once again, but only to within about thirty miles and so were unable to see her. We did manage to have a chat with them on the VHF radio at this time and catch up with all the news on the official opening of the new research station at South Georgia.

2nd Officer Nick Bailey,  South Georgia in backgroundMaking the approach to Cumberland Bay. 2nd Officer Nick Bailey checking position on a chart. South Georgia in the background. Click on image to enlarge.

By first light on Sunday morning the vessel was passing down South Georgia (King Edward Point - known as KEP- is to the eastern end of the island) and getting some lovely views of the snow capped mountains. The weather at KEP was not so nice, with a light falling of snow.

A view of South GeorgiaA view of South Georgia as we entered Cumberland Bay. Click on image to enlarge.

Just as mid-day was approaching RRS Ernest Shackleton was maneuvering into position in Cumberland Bay and preparing to launch two inflatable boats. This was to be a quick visit, with on pax going ashore and collecting one pax for the trip to Signy.

Also in the bay at the time was the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Diligence, who is acting as accommodation for the troops stationed here as the garrison is closed down.

King Edward Point - South Georgia
Fisheries Research Station

The new scientific research station at King Edward Point (KEP) was officially opened at midday on 22 March 2001 by His Excellency Donald Lamont the Commissioner for South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, in the presence of Professor Chris Rapley, Director BAS, Air Commodore John Cliffe OBE RAF, Commander British Forces Falkland Islands, Mr Richard Cockwell, Falkland Islands Government and Dr Inigo Everson, BAS.

Following a ceremony during which the buildings were named "The James Cook laboratory" and "Everson House" a plaque was unveiled to mark the event. The name of "Shackleton Villa" was given to the Marine Officer accommodation, an apartment attached to the main station complex.

Forthcoming events: Head to Signy base to close for the winter. Then back to South Georgia for final call to Bird Island and King Edward Point.

The next page will be written on the 1st April 2001 and should be published on the 2nd April 2001.


Weekly diary entries