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19 Jan - Back to Stanley

Date: Sunday 12 January 2002
Position @ 1200 (UTC -3): 51° 41'S 057° 49'W - Alongside FIPASS, Stanley, Falkland Islands
Next destination: Mare Harbour, East Cove, Falkland Islands
Distance to go: 48.3 NM
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 13665.0 NM

Current Weather: Overcast and grey. Rain showers, poor visibility
Wind: N x 30 kts
Barometric pressure: 966.3 mb
Sea state: Moderate alongside FIPASS
Air temperature: 13.5°C.
Sea temperature: 11.2°C.
Click here for ships track

All Change on RRS Ernest Shackleton

As we lay alongside FIPASS Jetty in Stanley, Falkland Islands, there has been a turnaround of crew, passengers and cargo. After 12 days at sea - interspersed with very brief 3 hour visits to King Edward Point (KEP) and Bird Island on route - it is a welcome break to have reached the Falkland Islands and stretch our legs on land.

The ice was no factor in departing the Weddell Sea and reaching South Georgia in good time for the Bird Island call. So much so, that on the evening of last Sunday 12th January, we were able to make an opportunistic call on King Edward Point to deliver some of the empty drums received in Halley.

Offloading drums at KEP - Click to enlarge
Offloading drums at KEP
Click to enlarge

This eliminated the need for continuing the season with a hold of empty drums to be delivered during last-call at South Georgia. It also allowed us the opportunity of uplifting the Winter Base Mechanic Andy Smith who needed a lift back to his flight in the Falklands. This was a good call. Not only was a lot achieved in the mere 2 hours duration of our stay, but the video officer was able to arrange a video swap to boot !!


At sea for weeks at a time crew and supernumeraries of the Shackleton are starved of live TV. Some would say this is a blessing. How many Englishmen can state a total ignorance of 'Ant and Dec' or 'Eastenders' as their claim-to-fame ? But with no means of TV reception when out of sight of land, it falls to DVD and Video Tape Movies for onboard entertainment. To that end, RRS Ernest Shackleton - like the James Clark Ross and the bases - carries a full library of video entertainment.

Why do we not have Satellite TV onboard ? Sky TV, Sky One, Sky Sports, would all go down very well onboard with some of the ship's crew - especially at Saturday afternoon football time ! But the difficulty is that the satellites have very specific 'footprints' that beam inland to Europe, America, Latin America or Africa. Very few satellite tv operators have considered the untapped source of viewers at sea (on passenger liners) and Antarctica ! In reality, the number of subscribers would not be worth their while. Moreover, on a ship which wobbles around significantly, there has to be a 'stabilized' method of keeping the satellite dish pointed at the satellites at all time. This can involve a very sophisticated and equally expensive systems.

'Why can't we get cable ???', I have been asked on occasion ?
' "##!$7$!.....' I reply. Can you imagine?! And so an opportunistic call to a base for a loan of some fresh titles is always a welcome call.


Upon completion of work in King Edward Point, we sailed overnight to arrive on Monday morning at Bird Island. Our remit here was to deliver Maggie Annat, an amount of frozen foodstuffs and then collect Sascha and Andy who both had flights to catch home from the Falklands. Again the call took a matter of hours to complete before we turned the 'pointed end' towards the west and sailed for our anticipated January 16th arrival. This was based on an average speed of 11 knots, but we did not anticipate the effects of a meteorological 'low' that developed below the Falklands. The resulting 35-40 knot head winds along with associated head-on seas reduced our progress at times to a mere 7knots... Moreover, it was very rough. Many of those FID's were noticeable by their absence - even from the Mess room at mealtimes ! The rough weather continued for the best part of the 3 days it took to battle across the South Scotia Ridge and onwards to Stanley.

The 45 degree stance is well demonstrated - Click to enlarge
Rod Downie and 2nd Office Alan demonstrate the 45 degree stance during a 'pitch' on the bridge - Tuesday
Click to enlarge

A brief lull in those conditions allowed the vessel to make up time with 2 main engines throughout Wednesday.

Finally on Thursday morning we sighted the Falklands ahead in the haze and were alongside and all secure by lunchtime. Work started immediately on the removal of the 2000 empty barrels from the helideck and holds, and we were able to prepare for the anticipated swap of personnel that would happen in port, this call.

Dr.Peter has departed, so your's truly will relate this week's news!

Dr Peter Riou left RRS Ernest Shackleton in Stanley this week, but left behind him a plethora of his digital photographs, giving the web editor 'carte blanche' to utilize any of them to illustrate this week's webpage. So as a parting tribute to Peter, here is a selection of his handiwork as we left the South Atlantic Ocean and returned to the Falklands....

The Night Heron - Click to enlarge Magellanic Penguin - Click to enlarge
Dutch Brig - Click to enlarge Chinstrap Penguin - Click to enlarge

Above: The Birds of the Falklands Islands - Gypsy Cove. Clockwise from top left: the Night Heron, the Magellanic Penguin, the Chinstrap Penguin (Why is it called Chinstrap I wonder ???) the Dutch Brig Oosterschelde (not a bird!). Click to images to enlarge them.


Wavey Davey Says :-

Did you hear what happened to the Brown Paper Cowboy, who wore brown paper boots. Had a brown paper shirt, a brown paper stetson, and brown paper trousers'?

'... imprisoned for Rustling !! '

(editor - I wish someone would imprison Wavey Davey's Jokes !!!).


Following Prof Jo Arendt's 'science spot' last week, she is back in fine style with more scientific research. This time it's advanced analysis of her latest invention and the web camera was there, on the spot, to capture Jo in the throws of her research !

Prof Jo Arendt on cleaning duty - Click to enlarge
Professor Jo Arendt on cleaning duty
Click to enlarge

RRS Ernest Shackleton is truly an International Ship.

As previously mentioned, there was a change of personnel this call in the Falkland Islands. Apart from the Master Graham Chapman returning home and being replaced by Chief Officer Antonio as Captain, we saw the return of David ' I've-crossed-the-Antarctic-Ice-Shelf-on-a-bicycle-too' Gooberman as Chief Officer.

Antonio is living in Spain (with a temporary spell in France at present) and David comes from the Isle of Man.

Captain Gatti with his log book - Click to enlarge
Captain Gatti sweating over the log book !
Click to enlarge

Scientist Sascha Hooker and Bird Island Summer BC Andy Cope left the ship and we saw a selection of scientist join for the onward journey to Signy and our return to the Weddell Sea. Joining us this weekend we have 2 Danes and 2 Dutchmen onboard who will no doubt be mentioned over the next weeks.

But it's not just the personnel. The ship itself was built in Norway with much equipment of Norwegian origin on the vessel. Bob the Leccy has his Norwegian-English Technical Dictionary to hand and has seen good use. We have two variety of plugs/sockets onboard, both European and English, and on top of that there is a smattering of signs and notices displayed in two languages throughout. One such sign MUST be displayed in these pages to prove the point :-

Sign on Display above the D.P Desk.

Achtung alles Lookenpeepers. Die Machine ist nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengraben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken ! Ist nicht fur gewerken by die Dummkopfen, Die Rubbernecken, oder Die Sightseeren. Bitte keepen Handen in das Pockets, relaxen und watch die Blinkenlighten. Danke!

Truly International.
Author Unknown.

Thought of the Day : If you play a Country and Western Song BACKWARDS... Do you get your wife back, have the bank return your house and car, find all your money, get your kids back, and get your job back too ????

Forthcoming events: Depart FIPASS Stanley and proceed to Mare Harbour to work the remain Waste/Cargo and bunker remaining fuel required for two visits to Halley. Depart the Falkland Islands bound for Signy, South Orkney Islands.

Contributors this week : Many thanks to Peter Riou for leaving us his photographs behind.

Diary 18 will be written on 26 January 2003 for publication on the website by 27 January 2003.

Stevie B