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06 Jan - New Year - north to King Edward Point

RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary

Position at 1200 (UTC - 3 hours): 54°16'S  036°29'W - Alongside King Edward Point, South Georgia
Next destination: Falkland Islands
ETA: 11th January 2002
Distance to go: 825 NM
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 12278.3NM

Current weather: Cloudy and clear, fresh winds
Wind: W'ly x Force 6
Barometric pressure: 995.0 mb
Sea state: N/A
Air temperature: 14.4°C.
Sea temperature: 3.5°C.

Ships position taken from the regular weather observations (only available whilst at sea, courtesy of Oceanweather.com). Select "South Atlantic" area and click on "Marine Observations". Callsign is ZDLS1.

The New Year was celebrated in the nautical manner, with the oldest person onboard (John Tonge, Electrician) ringing out the old year, and the youngest person (Jenny Read, Halley Summer Comms) ringing in the New Year. This ceremony was carried out on the main hatch. Dave Bailey, Purser, had always wanted to sound the ships horn and managed to fulfill his wish.....some 25 minutes late!!

Counting down to 2002 Jenny Read and John Tonge  on the hatch.
Ringing out the old and in the new....
Counting down to 2002 and Jenny Read and John Tonge just after the bell had been rung.

Click to enlarge

With the New Year came a fresh wind, from the south, and so the pack started to ease. Alas, the journey south to Halley still looked formidable and so the decision was made that the ship would return to the Falklands to take on more fuel and then make a second attempt later in the month, when it is hoped that the heavy pack currently in the southern Weddell Sea will have broken up, thus allowing us an easier passage.

So, at 1530 UTC on 1st January 2002 the Ernest Shackleton started to make slow but steady progress to the north and towards open water.

At about 0500 UTC on Thursday 3rd January the ship exited the pack and was in open water. Although this meant a better speed a good lookout was still required as there were numerous bergs, bergy-bits and growlers to contend with. One other problem was that with open water came the swell and associated movement, something that a lot of people had gotten used to being without. The following short poem best sums up the motion experience:

Ode to The Chunder  by Dr Lindsey Bishop

Here's to the weather that makes the seas rise
That makes you throw up all your bacon and fries.
Here's to the Shackleton corkscrewing motion
That makes you feel ill while afloat on the ocean.

Here's to the burn as it heaves from your gob
In a slidy and slippery diced carrot blob.
So here's to us all - to the Fids and the crew.
Here's to the chunder! The vomit! The Spew!

The poem was one of many recited during a poetry recital on Friday evening, alas the others are somewhat unprintable!

The voyage back to the Falkland Islands is via South Georgia as there is a requirement to uplift some equipment from King Edward Point. This will involve a brief stop at the base and then we will head for the Falklands, with an ETA of 11th January.

A number of very good whale sightings were made towards the latter part of the week. A southern right whale passed very close by the side of the ship, showing no concern at our presence.

A few from in front of the base at King Edward Point, South Georgia. View from in front of the base at South Georgia.

Sunday morning and the ship arrived at King Edward Point, South Georgia. The weather was good, enabling those not working cargo to go ashore and stretch the legs, this being the first opportunity to get off the ship since we left here on 29th November 2001. Many of those onboard were not expecting to see South Georgia for another two years, and no doubt will make the most of our short time here.

Looking down at King Edward Point and Grytviken, from Mount Hodges. The spectacular view from Mount Hodges of Grytviken, King Edward Point and RRS Ernest Shackleton.

The intention is to sail late Sunday afternoon and head direct for Mare Harbour in the Falkland Islands.

With a fresh breeze but a bright and sunny day the cargo work required of this call was completed. Those that were not working had the chance to get ashore to visit the base, the museum or just walk around and stretch the legs. A number of hardy folk even went swimming and snorkeling in the bay, getting the chance to see the King Penguins in flight underwater.

Forthcoming events: Proceed to the Falkland Islands for bunkers and passenger transfers, then depart for South Georgia, Signy and Halley.

Mike Gloistein