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23 Mar - Arrival at Rothera

Date:  Sunday 23 March 2002
Position @ 1200 (UTC -3): 67° 34'S 068° 07'W - alongside Biscoe Wharf, Rothera station
Next destination: Trump Island, Antarctic Peninsula
ETA: Monday 24 March 2003
Distance to go: 213.5 NM
Total Distance Sailed this Season: 21175.2 NM

Current Weather: Brilliant blue skies and cool
Wind:  Light airs
Barometric pressure:  1008.3 mb
Sea state: Slight swell whilst tied alongside
Air temperature:  3.7°C.
Sea temperature: -1.0°C.
Click here for ships track

The Weather Window

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 - okay, it's not QUITE 12.00 noon, but at 10am it was sooooo beautiful, I just had to capture the moment. What a great weather window to end the current contract on ? All is well and good with the world as we sit alongside a VERY SUNNY wharf at Rothera!

Arrival at Rothera

The vessel arrived at Rothera on Wednesday at approximately 1900 UTC (1600 hours ship's time). We headed south from Stanley across the Drake Passage a series of depressions over the Antarctic Peninsula on the met charts suggested the trip may not be the smoothest but despite heavy weather on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, no serious cases of seasickness werer reported amongst the few FID's onboard, and indeed, they were all functioning remarkably well despite some heavy rolling of the vessel.

Seasickness cartoon - Click to enlarge

Before our arrival at Rothera however we had the matter of Port Lockroy to attend to. We uplifted personnel on Tuesday and by Wednesday the vessel was in the vicinity of Rothera. We awaited the decision to tie up alongisde as we encountered a delegation of rather large bergs and an even larger swell that was present between the vessel and the Rothera wharf. With some gentle manouevering however, we were finally alongside. However during the early hours of the morning there was a "counter-attack" by large bergs and the forces of nature. By 0400 hours on Thursday, Dougie the 3rd Mate and Jim the A/B released the lines and the vessel executed a tactical withdrawal and went back out to patrol and await developments. The best part of Thursday elapsed before RRS Ernest Shackleton was able to reconvene and below we can see the Shackleton crew kitted up and ready to do battle with an array of cargo, waste and bulk refueling of the base!

Charlie Chalk - Click to enlarge John MacCleod - Click to enlarge Kim Cooling - Click to enlarge

Above: Charlie Chalk, John MacCleod and Kim Cooling prepare for cargo operations. Click the image to enlarge them.


Wavey Davey says : - 'A monkey and a hyena were traveling through the jungle together and arguing which of the two of them was the bravest ? '
'I'm the bravest' said the Monkey, 'No, I'm the bravest', insisted the Hyena.  But how to prove it. ?
At that moment, their path crossed a rather wild lion, and quick as a flash, the Monkey bolted up a tree.
This left the Hyena at the mercy of the Lion and he was torn to pieces...
'If you're so brave', said the Hyena, 'why didn't you climb down out of the tree and help me ?'
'Because the way you were laughing', said the Monkey,... ' I thought you were winning ! '.

You'll be happy to know, that's the last of the Wavey-Davey jokes for a few months !!
The crew are very happy about this !

As reported, the vessel collected Amanda Lynnes and Pete Milner from Port Lockroy on Tuesday morning. As we pulled into Lockroy the weather abated enough to allow us to launch our boats and collect all the base waste, personal kit and of course the two personnel. Lockroy is now 'closed down' for the winter months until it reopens to visitors again in the spring. Lockroy is one of the most visited spots on the Antarctic Peninsula. In fact, while we were shutting down the base, there was already a small single masted yacht in the cove and the tourist expedition ship, the Grigory Mehkeev arrived. Had no-one told them that Port Lockroy was shutting down ? One further visitor arrived during our short stay - apart from some welcome sunshine which broke through an otherwise thick overcast - and that was the statutory iceberg ! It posed no threat to ourselves, but seemed bent on magnetically heading for the anchored Mehkeev !

Rothera relief went well after the aborted start. Ice bergs and large swell notwithstanding, we were able to press on during Thursday/Friday and Saturday to accomplish a deal of the cargo work. All cargo for Rothera was landed and a big hole was made on the waste and back-cargo that was lining the Biscoe Wharf on our arrival. Even with 3 full days of working which was punctuated at one point by a snowfall and the next point by beautiful clear blue skies, we still left enough items requiring removal. RRS James Clark Ross is due in next week and will uplift some items, but it will probably be next season before the final amounts can be uplifted. This is largely due to the amount of waste generated by the Morrisons Building Contractors who are currently re-building the Bonner Lab and nearing it's completion.

Although, strictly speaking, RRS Ernest Shackleton is not the last vessel to visit Rothera before the onset of the Antarctic winter, we offered the 'winterers' the opportunity to come onboard the ship on Saturday evening for their 'farewell dinner'. This was a swish affair with an appearance of 'herds' of ties and the occasional outbreak of dresses amongst the ladies too. All very smart. When asked on the radio 'Where would the base like their farewell dinner, on the Shackleton or on the James Clark Ross', it was no surprise to discover the answer. 'BOTH'. So no doubt during the visit of the JCR next week, the winterers will go onboard to repeat the exercise - time and operations permitting. It was nevertheless a very convivial evening and there was a meeting of new and old friends. It cannot be stressed how important these interbase-intership parties can be. You get the wider picture of what is occurring throughout BAS and the very many and varied disciplines there are that make up this fine organization.

The Best Party On The Ship

Although a 'winterers farewell' affray is a delightful social occasion, it must be admitted that this one at Rothera was somewhat paled into comparison by the advent of a 'Stuart Lawrence farewell' affray. As you may know Captain Lawrence is traveling the Peninsula for the last time after a lustrous Antarctic career spanning some 30 years. Capt Stuart returns to the UK with us from the Falkland Islands this next call at the end of March. So it was only fitting that his crew were able to join him for a dinner and wish him the very best on his forthcoming retirement.

Chief Officer makes a speech - Click to enlarge

Above: Chief Officer Antonio excellently sums up the thoughts and feeling of his fellow crewmates who have had the pleasure to serve under Capt Stuart. Chief Cook Richard looks on. Click to enlarge.

Captain Lawrence receives a farewell gift - Click to enlarge

Above: Captain Stuart is presented with a 'small' token of the crews admiration and affection. The fact that the small gift is almost as large as the Captain, deters him not. This is a loving restoration of an old 'binnacle compass' that was brought back to life by members of the crew who should be named for a remarkable effort and a job well done, but I think everybody's heart was in it as the gift was presented to the Captain.

Speech by the Captain - Click to enlarge

A moving speech of thanks from the Captain was only interrupted by shouts of 'Hear Hear', and 'Three Cheers' and the 'Call to Dinner' which was another resurrection - the Dinner Chimes rescued from the Captain's previous beloved vessel - RRS Bransfield.

Dinner! Click to enlarge

Above: and finally ... Dinner. Click on the cartoon (below) to see Captain Lawrence 're-tyre'.

Captain Lawrence 're-tyres' - Click to enlarge

Finally, it only remains for the SJL crew to wish you all a pleasant summer as we depart the vessel, head home to Europe and make plans for our forthcoming leave. It has been a pleasure to share our adventures with you this season. We will be back with you in July and meanwhile, we leave you in the very capable hands of the JBM crew of RRS Ernest Shackleton. Au Revoir.

Forthcoming events: Finish current cargo operations, secure for sea and depart for Trump Island. We will take 32 additional personnel out of Rothera for the homeward journey to the Falkland Islands.

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

Diary 27 may be late in arriving due to the planned handover period onboard RRS Ernest Shackleton around 30th March 2003.

Cheerio till next contract,
Stevie B