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19 May - A Party for Children

RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary

Position at 1200 (UTC): 44° 29'2 South 009° 28'7 West
Next destination: Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England
ETA: Wednesday, 22nd May 2002
Distance to go: 830.0 nm
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 30131.3 nm

Current weather: Bright and hazy
Wind: Westerly, Force 1-2
Barometric pressure: 1019.3 mb and steady
Sea state: Moderate
Air temperature: 17.8°C.
Sea temperature: 13.8°C.

Current, frequent weather observations reported back to BAS Headquarters in Cambridge is used to plot the ship's current position and recent track. Meteorological data are also available from this page. The callsign of RRS Ernest Shackleton is ZDLS1.


Well, that's not entirely true. There is a particularly palatable orange squash in the messroom cool dispenser and then there is a fridge full of beer in the Red Room. Nevertheless, there is water, water, everywhere and has been for the last 7 days. The only slight break from the monotony of a 360 degree horizon, was on Thursday night this week, when we passed within 5 nmiles of Madeira. There was no time to stop and take in the sights as we continue to press north in an effort to make our Wednesday 22nd deadline, but the Island sure looked pretty all lit up in the night. It was about 23.00 hours when we passed closest to the island and many of the FIDs went on decks with a drink to toast the passing. The moon was up and although it is in it's infancy this month, it still provided enough light to give a romantic feel to the evening. There were other ships to be sighted that night and a yacht transport ship was lit up like a christmas tree which passed only a mile or so off our port side. Off to starboard were the lights of Funchal and other small towns.

The weather has continued fine all week with only a couple of grey days, but largely it was sun-bathing weather throughout. Many of the FIDs and crew are now sporting very colourful tans for their troubles. Apart from sitting all day on the Monkey Island to get a tan, Daffyd and some of the others were being very avid bird and marine-life watchers. They were not disappointed. A handful of bird varieties were sighted along with some whales, a large turtle and lots of dolphins too. Striped dolphins, bottle-nose dolphins, hour-glass dolphins - it didn't matter to Dr. Jenny who squeals with glee everytime a school comes near. As she says, they are the best of creatures. Well, Dr Jenny certainly likes them !!

Then there have been 'clocks' this week. Twice. We can now boast that we are on the same time zone as Greenwich Meantime - or more politically correct - Universal Time Co-ordinate. In reality, it means we are only 1 hour behind BAS HQ in Cambridge and working out when they will be at lunch or when they will have finished work for the day becomes a matter of the most elementary arithmetic. Add One ! Largely, we are having our lunch hour about the same time as they are having theirs. This does not sound too impressive, but when we are down South in Antarctica and there is normally a 3 hour time difference, but it was 5 hours during our last call in the Falklands, and it can mean that you are ready to telephone someone just before lunch, only to find that they have already departed for home at the end of their day. Most confusing. We will, of course, have one more hour to adjust before our anticipated arrival in the UK next Wednesday when we shall need to be on British Summer Time (BST).

Wavey-Davey's Weekly Whit-spot

Oh no Davey, not that old one !!:-

Davey says - "What sits on the Sea Bed and shivers ??" - Answer - 'A nervous wreck'

Davey also says - " What sits on the Sea Bed and Sings ??" - Answer - 'Frankie Prawn' !!

Excerpt from the Diary of Walter Bloggs (aged 9-3/4)

My Dad finks I am spoilted. I don't fink so. Just becoz I get to come on dis big ship evry yeher and see da people, I don't fink it's so bad. I fink I am worf it. So Der.

But Dad sed we cud come onbord de Ernist Shaklton ones more and dis time from die Falkland Irelands to my home in Engerland. Dad sed it wud be long but it wud be fun too. He waz rite. Coz it is. It was a lot of days at see, but I got to watch all de vidios in the vidio room. I like vidios. They hav sum relly gud ones onbord here. But de best is de party dat dey had for us on Tuusday nite dis week. It was funny.

It was a kids party and all de uver kids on bord were invited two. It's funny coz I hadn't seen any of dees kids on bord before. But they were gud. I don't normally like kids my age becoz dey are all two serius and boring but dees kids were kool. Der waz a German kid wou wore a funny hat wiv some funny writing on it. Den der waz an Autrailian kid wou had a big blak eye an' my Dad sed he was a 'not nice boy' and dat I shud not go near him. Dad sed he waz a 'bad sort'. Der waz one kid der in his skule blazer and kap. I fort he looked normal, but my Dad sed he luuked like Ozzie Osborn from a grup called Blak Sabbuff but I'm two yung to know abowt dat.

Den der was a wooden kid wou shewed up two. He sed his name was Pinocchio but I kan't spel Pinocchio ! He waz reely weird. He had a big nose and frekkles and little white gluves as well. But he joined in all of de games so he waz gud afterall. Sum of de uver kids came in der shirts and tyes but I just had my baseball kap and bumpa buuts on.

Wurst of all waz dat dey had girls der. I don't like girls. But my Dad sez we had to av dem der and dat we had to 'play nice'. Der waz dis one girl called Jenny wou had some pigtails.. I have alwayz wanted to pull pigtails - so I did hehee. I didn't tell my Dad abowt dat.

When de party got going it waz funny. First we had some fruwt puncsh and I saw one boy putting sum alkoowl into de bowl. I didn't fink it tasted any diferent, but it didn't alf make me fell funny later in de nite. Hic. But we got to eat sum good grub two. It waz great. Der wer sweets and toffee aples and march maloows and jelly beens and evryfink. Cor, I cud have eaten evryfink - twise ! De best wer dees great kream-filled buns whisch sqkwerted kream all ovea de plac wenn you bit into dem. Loverly. But wer waz de jelly and icekream ??? I hav neva been to a party wer dey did not hav jelly and icekream. My Dad sed I should be grateful. My Dad speeks rubbish !!

But denn we had sum games - AND DEY WER BRILLIANT.

Der waz pin the beek on the penqwin, and pass-de-parsel, and musikal chers, and baloon games and evryfink. It waz sooo funny. I won a present for a game called twister wer you have to put yor hands and feet onto diferent kolored spots. I won. I won. I got a great toy from de presents bag.

De wurst part of de hole evening was dat it had to end. Dey sed it waz past owa bedtimes, - but it waz only becoz die Kaptian of de ship had put de klocks on 1 howa forward. Cheat. I wisch he had put dem all 1 howa BAK. Dat wud have been betta.

My Dad wudn't let me take a kamera wiv me, so I hav no piktures at all. He said de Mum's and Dad's wer not letting us kids near expensiv kameras becoz we wud brake dem. Rubbish. I had my last kamera for a hole week ! So der. Oh, and der was one adult person der called Mr. Walker. He was meen. He sat der all nite and kept telling us kids off for doin noffink... Just coz he didn't win a prizs in de pass-de-parsel !! BAD LOOSA.

But in spite of de adult person and de girls and noo jelly an icekream - I fowt if waz de best kids party eva !!

by Walter Bloggs.

Excerpt from a Schoolboy's Diary.


I'm sure real kids would cringe if they saw our behaviour on Tuesday night. It was decided that we ought to take a leap (greater for some than others) back to those happy carefree childhood days and have a 'Children's Party' party. It wasn't even spontaneous, since the buying of sweets, prizes and Noddy napkins in the Falklands, proved it to be a pre-meditated act. A most colourful feast was laid out in the mess full of all our favourites: sweets, lollipops, toffee apples, fairy cakes, and much more besides. Little 'loot bags' were available to convey any leftovers away home for any well-behaved children. There was a tasty fruit punch, or beer if you could sneak it past the grown ups, to keep our hoarse voices under control.

Arriving in best party dress, a surprising amount of kids turned up in scruffy school uniform. There was also superman (Steve LB), a couple of Welsh rugby players, a couple of girls with their hair in bunches, a German sailor and outright winner was an amazingly accurate Pinocchio who is Steve B in the daytime. Needless to say that all characteristics came out: stealing, fighting, crying, screaming, skipping, and smoking behind the bike sheds!

When everyone was already feeling sick from all the cakes and sweets, the games were started with 'Pin the Beak on the Penguin' that was won by Mark once the rules were finally defined. Since everyone survived the blindfolded spinning, it was deemed safe to play 'Musical Chairs'. I don't think I've laughed so much for years, at all the cheating and pushing going on. The deserving winner here was Daffyd, probably advantaged by his extraordinarily long limbs. After a quick breather and singalong to 'My Boomerang Won't Come Back' it was time for the game of Pass the Parcel to the tune of "I'm A Little Aeroplane". With over 10 layers, many with either prizes or forfeits, there was great suspense and attempts at indoor rugby. The ultimate winner however was Steve LB who unwrapped the final layer to reveal a not quite so big whanging yellow JCB. What a coincidence! A hilarious game of Blind Man's Bluff in quite a small space had everyone rolling around laughing and of course the giant ship-made Twister game made a reappearance. (see 'A letter to Home' Webpage 21st April.)

Throughout the evening balloons seemed to appear all over the place: normal decorative balloons, modelling balloons (you really shouldn't be making that sort of model, Mark), and the favourite huge noisy balloons that fly across the room sonorously until they finally fizzle out like a giant mosquito that has suddenly embedded itself into your earhole.

By this time, the hosts and to a certain extent the children, were thoroughly exhausted (if only we had the same energy as in those days), so the kids were packed off with their little goody bags of sweets and told to go home. What good children you've been.

PS. Due to fears of blackmailing - no cameras were allowed in the vicinity and therefore you'll just have to use your imagination!!

Finally, for this week, a word about our forthcoming tasks that await us in Grimsby. It will be a very busy time for all on board. There will be all the Antarctic cargo to unload, plus a piece of winch equipment used in the XBT deployments, which was to have been used in CTD experiments but the Weddell Sea Ice got in the way. We have stores and provisions to load aboard, and all before we loose the use of our big 50 T crane while it undergoes a major service. We must offload the Tula workboat and all the containers, gas bottles, bottle racks AND bottles from the fridges - in preparation for the summer's deployment in the North Sea as a 'Dry Ship'.

Then, we have to load on our Light Taut Wire (reference system) and install several new pieces of equipment on the ship along with a slack handful of repairs and modifications. It is very involved running a ship of this size and complexity.

Hopefully by next weekend, the ship will be ready to go 'on Charter' to the company which will lease the use of the ship for an ROV support program in the North Sea for the following 4 months. So we have to say 'Farewell' to our Dentist, Penny, to Doctor Jenny and to all the FIDs onboard. With the exception of Mark 'tugs' Taylor, the rest of the crew will be staying onboard this year, but we will not be seeing FIDs again until the Autumn.

So from Captain Lawrence and the Officers and Crew of the Ernest Shackleton, we wish all our passengers a pleasant onward journey and a good summer back in England, and we look forward to seeing you all again sometime in the future.

Forthcoming events: Journey onwards to Grimsby. Going through the 'Channels' by May 21st.

Contributors this week : Many thanks Dr.Jenny-Wenny Dean.! Thanks also to Walter Bloggs and his diary and to Wavey-Davey for his joke contribution.

Due to Demobilisation/Mobilisation, the next diary may appear late. But we will endeavour to produce Diary 32 on 26th May 2002 and for publication on 27th May 2002

Steve B