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16 Mar - Back to Stanley

Date:  Sunday 16 March 2002
Position @ 1200 (UTC -3): 55° 02'S 058° 52'W
Next destination: Port Lockroy, Wiencke Islands, Antarctic Peninsula
ETA: Wednesday 19 March 2003
Distance to go: 627.3 NM
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 20182.6 NM

Current Weather: Partly cloudy, fair but very blustery
Wind:  SSW x 30 kts
Barometric pressure:  1002.2 mb
Sea state: Rough sea and moderate swell
Air temperature:  6.7°C.
Sea temperature: 6.2°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 - is rough but with the promise of improving every minute.

Rough weather, Stanley, rough weather

That is about the sum total of the week's business for the Ernest Shackleton this week.

From last Sunday at sea, we only managed to arrive at the Falkland Islands by Tuesday. With only 330 nmiles to run at lunchtime last Sunday, we should have made landfall by Monday afternoon at the latest. However rough weather came into play and over Sunday night, we were pretty well 'hove to' in order to ride out the storm force winds. When a ship is 'hove to', it put's it's head towards the most 'comfortable' heading in order to sit out the storm. As Capt. Lawrence says, the historical origins of the phrase 'hove to' is in the past tense of 'heaving to'. When further probed as to the meaning of this, he replied ' when in a storm, 'heaving' is what you are doing in the toilet (how true), and when you have finished, you have 'hoved'.

Thank you Capt Stuart, - I think that says it all !!!

Dogleg on the way to Stanley - Click to enlarge
A 'dog leg' we had to do on the way to Stanley
Click to enlarge

Above: the ship, hove to, South of Stanley. (the speckled yellow patches are cloud cover seen from space).

I remember reporting to Myriam, our Stanley Representative, that we had only 165 nmiles to go. 24 hours later we were reporting that we still had 132 nmiles to go... Some 33 nmiles in 24 hours ! It was hard-going to say the least. However, because we had left Signy one day ahead of schedule, this unexpected delay allowed us to get back to the Falklands on the Tuesday in good time to ensure our passengers made their flight connections at Mount Pleasant Airport by Wednesday morning. Of the 48 FIDs onboard when we entered Stanley, only 9 remained after Wednesday morning, and peace and tranquility (and rain) descended upon the Shackleton thereafter!

For 4 days alongside in Stanley, the weather hardly abated. It continued rough throughout. Rain, wind, dark skies all made the cargo work on decks and in the holds look pretty unpleasant. Nevertheless, the cargo was all discharged and Rothera bound items were loaded into the holds for our onward journey.

The onward journey commenced on Saturday morning during a very blustery storm and heavy rain. Once clear of Pembroke Point, we were again at sea and this time, those northwesterly winds and seas had shifted around to come at us - head on - from the south. Again it was heavy weather all the way, and although we were not 'hove to' this time, there were times when the 'Ernest' was thrusting forward and yet only crawling along at about 3 knots. Indeed the velocity in the up/down direction probably far outweighed the velocity in the forward direction ! So it continued throughout Saturday and into Sunday. Only around Sunday lunchtime, do we see an abatement of the conditions as the winds veer around to come 'beam on' and allow us to progress at 9 or 10 knots towards the Peninsula.


Wavey Davey says: 'Did you hear of the Bear who got off at the wrong station and never became famous ???'
' Victoria Bear ??? '

The busy port of Stanley...Sparkie Steve mentions the other ships in port

Upon arrival at Stanley's Port William, the first sight to greet us was 2 large cruise ships. The Rynddam and the Marco Polo. Both ships were too large to go through the narrows into Stanley Sound, and so were running 'tender services' to ferry the passengers to and from the vessels to the shore. As the Ernest Shackleton maneuvered to go through the narrows herself, we were having to dodge the plethora of small boats running to and fro in the windy conditions with spray being cast up from their tiny bows. Happily we managed to navigate past the narrows and the boats without incident.

Ships in Port William - Click to enlarge Professor Multanovsky departing from Stanley Sound - Click to enlarge

Above:Cruise ships Rynddam and Marco Polo in Port William, and Professor Multanovsky departing from Stanley Sound. Click the images to enlarge them.

Whilst alongside, we were equally surrounded by the coming and going's of passenger vessels as Stanley blossoms into a tourist 'hotspot'. It is the perfect place to 'break' the journey from the South American ports of Montevideo and Buenos Airies before tackling the Cape and going around to Ushuia in Argentina or on up to Valparaiso, Chile. Unfortunately for some - and I mentioned the Royal Princess in January - the weather cannot be relied upon. If it is just too rough, then the tender operations through the narrows will not be allowed and so the passenger liners must pass right on by. Not so for the smaller liners like the Explorer (ex-Lynbad Explorer) and the Professor Multanovsky pictured above. Like the Ernest Shackleton, their shallow draughts allow them to navigate the narrows and come alongside the FIPASS jetty and conduct their passenger tours from there.

The arrival of the Explorer on Thursday was auspicious because it was her very last visit to Stanley and the Falkland Islands. The Explorer was the first expedition ship to run the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula and offer ordinary tourists a sample of the splendour of the Antarctic Circle. The vessel under it's former name first plied these waters in the 1970's and the present-day Captain himself first brought the ship into Stanley in 1973. A notable length of service for both Master and Vessel. However, after her final voyage, the Explorer is being laid to rest. She is over 30 years old and has seen good service. A party was held onboard on Thursday night and attended by passengers, friends and His Excellency the Governor of the Falkland Islands. Even some of the engineering department of the Shackleton managed to get an impromptu invitation to go onboard for a farewell drink. Either an impromptu invitation or maybe they just 'gate crashed'. Either way it was a sober sight to see her depart on Friday morning. The end of an era.

It a way it's fitting to mention our own Capt Stuart Lawrence who is equally on a last voyage to the Peninsula this contract after an equally notable length of service with the British Antarctic Survey. Capt Lawrence rejoined the vessel on Friday afternoon and relieved Capt Antonio for the final 'push' down to Rothera and back. But more of that in these pages over the forthcoming weeks.

Apart from the Explorer and the Professor Multanovsky, the busy Port of Stanley saw the comings and goings of a number of jiggers fresh from the South Atlantic fishing grounds, and the Fisheries Patrol Vessel Sigma.

FIPASS - Stanley's main facility for vessels is due to be rebuilt or replaced in the very near future. It is not surprising owing to the growing influx of vessels seen plying their trade in these waters.

Other Movements in Port

Finally, after loosing the host of Halley FIDs in the Falklands, (39 on Wednesday and the remaining 7 on Saturday prior to departure), we embarked only 3 personnel on a very wet and rainy Saturday morning. Capt Stuart Lawrence came onboard to relieve Capt Antonio of command and Capt Antonio reverted to Chief Officer to replace Dave Gooberman who was going home before his regular re-assignment to RRS James Clark Ross. Alan 'Navs' Newman departed to his leave and Kim '1st-time-to-the-Antarctic-Circle' Cooling took over as 2nd Officer. Kim will remain onboard as part of Capt Marshall's team when we have crew-change at the next call in the Falklands. And Mr John Pye of BAS Cambridge embarked for the 2 week tour to Port Lockroy, Rothera, Trump Island and back to the Falklands. We welcome our new (and old) shipmates back onboard.

Forthcoming events: Arrive at Port Lockroy Wednesday morning, to uplift Amanda Lynnes and Peter Milner and thereby close down the summer-only base for the winter. Then onwards to Rothera on the Peninsula for arrival PM. Wednesday March 19th.

Contributors this week : Many thanks to Wavey Davey as always.

Diary 26 will be written on 23rd March 2003 for publication on the website by 24th March 2003.

Stevie B