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02 Mar - Goodbye to Halley

Date:  Sunday 02 March 2002
Position @ 1200 (UTC -3): 57° 29'S 026° 21'W
Next destination: King Edward Point, South Georgia
ETA: 04 March 2003
Distance to go: 423.0 NM
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 18416.8 NM

Current Weather: Foggy!
Wind:  NW x 24 kts
Barometric pressure:  975.0 mb
Sea state: Slight sea and swell
Air temperature:  2.1°C.
Sea temperature: 0.5°C.
Click here for ships track

The Weather Window

The weather this week - Click to enlarge
The weather this week
Click to enlarge

Above: This week's view of our world at 12.00 noon on a Sunday. Today's weather - I don't know. I can't see any !!!

RRS Ernest Shackleton

After last week's exceptional Storm Force 12 weather and blizzards of snow, I think we've said enough about the weather to last the season. So although the weather this week has been 'unexceptional' we still found ourselves cruising slowly up and down the creeks of the Brunt Ice Shelf ... waiting. The stormy weather, blowing primarily from the northeast, had filled the little 'bays' chock full of ice. When I say 'ice', I am talking bitty bergs, growlers, icebergs, floes and even whole sections of ice cliff. Needless to say, we were unable to get anywhere near to the ramps of the creeks unless we were going to do a 'Shackleton' and put skis on our boat and man-haul it over the ice !

So it was that on Sunday and Monday we found ourselves sailing between Creek 2 and N9 - a distance of about 30 nmiles - checking on the condition of first one, and then the other, to see which would be 'workable' first? Although the weather had died right down to a balmy 'light airs' and 'smooth seas', the underlying current of the Brunt Ice Shelf managed to sail all the ice out of the bays and away to sea over the period of the two days. So it was that we were able to work the creeks on Tuesday and get the base personnel onboard from Halley.

Creek 2 had suffered badly during the storms. The minimal amount of 'foot' remaining at the bottom of the Creek 2 ramp had all but disappeared and so it was that the GA's and the Captain settled upon Creek 5 to complete the Halley relief. It was tight. There was just enough room at the base of the Creek 5 ramp to manoeuvre the vessel in sideways with the use of our forward and stern thrusters. You really appreciate how manoeuverable this ship is when you see the Captain settle this mighty 4028 Gross Tonne ship up against a berth the size of an icecube ! Two seasons ago, Captain Lawrence managed a similar feet at Creek 4, but we suspect that Captain Gatti bettered that effort with his 'ship in a bottle' trick as seen below.

Approaching Creek 5 - Click to enlarge Alongside Creek 5 - Click to enlarge

Above: Approaching Creek 5 (L), and alongside - Dr.Lyndsey gives scale to the picture at the top of the ramp, Creek 5. Click the images to enlarge them......but don't enlarge too much... we don't have enough room!!

But Captain Antonio successfully pulled her alongside the ice, - not once, but twice!

On Tuesday by 0730am the vessel was manoeuvering alongside. The small amount of ice and the steepness of the ramp precluded the use of vehicles and working cargo, but the main remit was to collect 39 members of the base along with all their clatch* and this was done in two steps. At 0936, the first 20 of them were 'craned' onboard. Then the vessel moved off the ice shelf for luncheon whilst the sno-cats returned to the base.

At 1600 hours, the ship was back alongside and all but 4 members of the base over-winterers were down at the ice to see the last 19 people craned onboard and the final departure of the ship from Halley this season. The base will now go into 'hibernation mode', (see Halley diaries), and not see any other visitors until the BAS Twin Otter aircraft return there for the start of the next season in November 2003 ! Some of those members departing on the ship have spent 2½ years in Halley, and will probably never see it again ! I always imagine this must be a bitter-sweet experience for them.

Goodbye to Halley - Click to enlarge
Goodbye to Halley
Click to enlarge

Above: The Halley Winterers stand at the foot of the ice ramp to wave goodbye as their Summer colleagues gather at the ship rails to see the last of the Brunt Ice Shelf.

(*) Clatch - Baggage. Kit bags, suitcases, rucksacks, and the odd guitar case !


Wavey Davey Gets Replaced !! :-

Povl Says : Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road,.. Roll in the Dirt,.. and then Cross the Road Again ???
Answer: He was a Dirty Double-Crosser!!

Thank You Povl, and after that offering, I think we'll invite Wavey Davey to return next week !!
And besides,...'Wavey Povl' does not have the same 'ring' to it ?!

We sailed from Creek 5 by 1645 hours on Tuesday afternoon, one day ahead of the published schedule. Afterall, there was nothing more to be achieved at Halley. But en route up the 'coastline' of the Eastern Weddell Sea, the Captain and Halley Base Commander Steve Marshall, took the opportunity of checking for possible landing sites at the Lydden Ice Shelf some 170 nmiles North of the present Halley location. The Lydden Ice Shelf has been muted as a possible future site for the Halley 6 new build in the coming years. But first, it must be assessed for ease of access for those all-important Base Relief Operations. Upon arrival on Wednesday morning, the weather and visibility were excellent for assessing what looked to be a good site for the ship to enter, and being further North up the coastline, is understood to be a little more accessible than the Brunt Ice Shelf. When, last year, RRS Ernest Shackleton, was unable to access Halley, the Lydden Ice Rise was reported to be accessible to the ship. A definite point in it's favour. But it must be stressed that this recce was purely an initial investigation and nothing can be ascertained as to it's suitability until after further studies have been carried out.

Lydden Ice Rise - Click to enlarge
The Lydden Ice Rise as seen from a little 'creek' which would make an excellent landing spot.
Click to enlarge

Finally, we were having our weekly lifeboat drills on Friday afternoon when the email schedule brought the arrival of further orders. BAS HQ tasked us to deviate on our journey to South Georgia by visiting the South Sandwich Islands en route. The intention was to continue our on-going logging of magnetometer readings with our STCM instrumentation onboard and also to take some photographs of possible volcanic activity on Montegu Island. The South Sandwich Chain is a volcanic ridge in the Scotia Sea. Actually, the South Sandwich Trench also records the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean at 8300 metres depth. BAS were interested in taking any possible photographs of Montegu Island which we would pass at 0400 hours in the morning (ship's time). Therefore, the Navigator Alan, recalculated the track and we arranged to arrive at first light to assist in our photographic efforts on Sunday morning. However, as can be seen from the 'weather eye' today, the photograph-taking capabilities were somewhat curtailed....by FOG !

'The best laid plans of mice and men' springs to mind.

Nevertheless, we have completed the magnetometer track to the east side of the Sandwich chain and are now proceeding en route to King Edward Point (KEP) where we should arrive early in the week.

Forthcoming events: Arrive at King Edward Point on South Georgia, Tuesday morning and deposit one person and a small amount of inter-base cargo. Once we leave KEP we travel to Bird Island, where another transfer of personnel and frozen goods should be accomplished in the shortest of calls. From Bird Island we head South to the Signy base on the South Orkneys. This itinerary will take us up to next weekend when we will be anticipating an early arrival into the Falkland Islands with all those FIDs onboard who are anxious to see greenery, get re-acquainted with civilization and prepare for their onward journey to the other hemisphere.

Contributors this week : Many thanks to Povl Abrahamsen for the Wavey Davey Joke. It's not kosher 'wavey davey' material, but it's a very close approximation ! Also a word of thanks to John Davies/G4ETQ of the Met.Office for his kind support of the weekly web diaries. John was particularly interested in our meteorological capability onboard, and it is hoped to provide him with an article in time for the next week's page. Indeed, thank you to all who have expressed interest and support for our efforts onboard. We aim to please !

Diary 24 will be written on 09th March 2003 for publication on the website by 10th March 2003.

Stevie B