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16 Nov - £7,500 Raised for Charity

Date: Sunday 16th November 2003.
Position @ 1200 (UTC): 23°02 S 041°11 W.
Next destination: Montevideo, Uruguay, South America.
ETA: PM. Thursday 20th November 2003
Distance to go: 1093.0 km
Total Distance Sailed: 5607.0 nmiles

Current weather: Broken Cloud, Fine, Very Warm and Clear.
Wind: Easterly, 4 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1015.3 mb.
Sea state: Slight sea and Moderate swell.
Air temperature: 25.9°C.
Sea temperature: 21.6°C.

Return of the Position Maps.
Position map. Click to enlarge. Click on Image to Enlarge.
As the Shackleton continues to steam South, we start to appear on the South Atlantic image devised from our 6-hourly Met Obs sent to UK Met Office. (See next article). As seen, our Sistership the 'RRS James Clark Ross' has been in the area for a number of weeks already and is currently around South Georgia.

Weather Observations on ES

Craig and Vanessa are the resident 'Met Babes'!! Vanessa, a recent graduate of University of East Anglia, has wanted to be a weather observer for BAS, since she was at school. Craig did a degree at Plymouth University, and has previously worked as an oceanographer. Our job will last for 2.5yrs, we will over winter in Antarctica twice, which means 105 days of darkness each year and temperatures plunging to -55°C, but we will still have to do our observations - darkness is no excuse!

On the ship, our job consists of 4 weather observations every 6 hours, at 0000, 0600, 1200 and 1800 GMT. These are sent to Met Office HQ in Exeter, were the observations are fed into a super computer, used in the weather prediction models, and evolve into weather forecasts. We spent 2 weeks in Cornwall as part of our training with BAS, where we worked alongside trained meteorologists doing regular observations and launching weather balloons into the atmosphere. The data from these balloons gives information about wind speed and direction and temperature and pressure. When we get to Halley we will release a balloon daily, this data is also used to help compile weather forecasts.

Weather observations are a classification of clouds, temperature, precipitation, air pressure, and current conditions. Specifically on the ship, we are required to classify sea swell and direction, wind wave height, and the ship's latitude and longitude. It is very useful and important for ships to report the weather they encounter, because it adds to the spatial coverage of data collection, supplementing land-based stations. A large data set improves the accuracy of forecasts, and we can have more confidence in the models being correct.

Vanessa O'Brien.


The RRS Ernest Shackleton, is this week in the South Atlantic, having 'bumped' over the line last Tuesday 11th! Apart from starting to appear on the charts of the area and receiving South America on the Satellite Imagery from the Weather Satellite system, we are now picking up Brazilian FM Radio loud and clear as we proceed down the coastline towards Uruguay.

Evening sky. Click to enlarge. Click on Image to Enlarge.

Although the catalogue of photographs that I must choose from is large, I could not help but include this wonderful shot taken one balmy evening on route. I think it sums up everything good that the FIDS can expect when travelling South on the vessels. (Apart from the seasickness of the Bay of Biscay, and having to do 'Gash' on a weekly basis). * Gash - Cleaning and Rubbish Collection duties exercised by Fids whilst down South.

It has been a very fulfilled week for us on the Shackleton. Preparations for the forthcoming handover interspaced with the odd BBQ, the traditional (and very weird) shaving-of-the-heads, and of course, the Crossing the line Ceremony.

Xrossing the Line or 'Treasure Island Revisited'!

It is traditional on these occasions for the victims (in this case - the FID's) to hide and crawl into the smallest of orifices in an attempt to evade capture and thus facing their just deserts! However, this year was a year with a difference. Or should I say a 'year with a defiance'?

Akin to something straight out of Robert Louis Stephenson's classic novel, the FIDS repleat in the very latest in Piratical Garb, donned, musket, cutlass and sabre (vis-a-vis, water bombs, water bombs, and more water bombs) and populated the Monkey Island to a man. (Ladies were present also).

Pirates. Click to enlarge. Click on Images to Enlarge. 'Cutthroat Garath' and 'Jaws and Cutlass Kevin', the curse of the Shackleton Main!

In typical British death-defying stupidity, they chose to holdout against the onslaught of the Shackleton Constabulary, against the long arm of the law and against justice. Suffice it to say they were on shaky ground. It wasn't particularly 'shaky' seeing as how the weather was warm and beautiful and the seas were being particularly kind to us all, but it was a foregone conclusion.


The antagonists. Click to enlarge. Click on Images. The protagonists. Click to enlarge.

The Antagonists and the Protagonists. The Fids on 'Fid Island' do battle with the long arm of Nautical Law.

Antagonists: (from left) Constables Mark, Mike, Peter, and Richard. Queen Rob, Court Clerk StevieB, Capt Graham, King Ian, 'Bobby Rob' Judge Jim, Dr.Wavey, 'Bobby Bob' and Konstable Kevin.

Protagonists: Michael 'Fodder', Fodder, Fodder, More Fodder, Fresh meat, Fodder, Fodder and Fodder.

It all started long before the 1400 hours announcement from the Bridge that hailed the arrival of rather elated visitors onboard. I refer, of course, to King Neptune and Queen Nephraditie. Complete with their entrage of Judge, Prosecutor, Doctor, Barber and Police, they were welcomed onboard by no less than the Captain Graham himself. The the noisy background hum of engines and ventilator fans, he welcomed the newly-arrived onboard and requested they follow him to the Poop deck where the Kangeroo Court was about to convene.

Queen 'Roberta' Aphrodite. Click to enlarge. Click on Images. King 'Ian' Neptune. Click to enlarge.
King 'Ian' Neptune and Queen 'Roberta' Aphroditie meet with Capt Graham before the Court.

The ensuing battle atop of the Monkey Island involved much throwing of water bombs, but the Fidrates' were no match for the overwhelming numbers and stratagem of the Constabularly. With hoses and plastic 'tie-wrap' handcuffs, the victims were soon subdued and brought before the court in turn to face the charges read against them, and to suffer the justice of the Court of King Neptune. The rest is history, or tradition, or just plain 'expected'. The photos say it all.
Ben in the Dock. Click to enlarge. Click on Images.Vanessa admires the Nautical Jewellery. Click to enlarge.
'Guilty'... Ben in the Dock // 'Kiss the Kipper'... Vanessa admires the Nautical Jewelry.
Vanessa Gets Done. Click to enlarge. Click on Images. Ben's Just Deserts. Click to enlarge.
Vanessa Gets Done // Ben's Just Deserts.

A good time was had by all, and every Pirate paid for his/her crimes that day. In all Michael, Ben, Frank, Vanessa, Rhian, Kevin, Gareth, Tina, Craig and even 2nd Officer Alan got doused in gunk. Why Alan was picked upon again this year after his surprise 'gunking' last year I cannot say, but surely he must have paid his dues to King Neptune by now??? Watch out for forthcoming 'Crossing the Line Ceremony' reports for future developments???

Crossing the Line - A FID's Perspective

A long, long time ago, on an ocean far, far away...

A small band of brave FIDS lay plans to mount a full-scale offensive from 'Monkey Island' against the might of the evil King Neptune's Police.

So, armed with what seemed like an endless supply of balloons loaded with water and state of the art cardboard cutlasses, the warriors prepared for battle with Neptune's Bobby's. Craig Nicholls, sporting a penny whistle and an extremely camp Euro-Pirate outfit designed exclusively by Jean Paul Gaultier, bravely scouted aft for signs of the police. The FIDS were continuing with their preparations when Craig managed to raise the alarm to indicate that the enemy were approaching. This was achieved by a cunningly pre-arranged code of 'highly aggressive' posturing and penny whistle buffoonery!

The signal to arm weapons was given and moments later the South Atlantic skies were blackened with 'Missiles of Messy Disruption' raining down on King Neptune's finest.

Scores of casualties populated the deck. Realising they were ill prepared for this barrage of hi-tech weaponry, the police prepared for a hasty retreat.

A huge cheer resounded amongst the small band of brave fighters. Before long, however, the enemy returned to once again mount their attack - now armed with truncheons and a hose!! This new development resulted in devastating consequences for our heroes and sadly a few brave souls were quickly lost to the police. Vanessa O'Brien put up a brave struggle, holding several police at bay until finally succumbing to sheer numbers. Also Gareth Wale and Frank Swinton fought with tenacity before finally becoming overpowered. Sadly the three brave warriors were then 'hog-tied' and taken to King Neptune. Meanwhile Ben Molyneux and Mike Rooney continued to battle with the advancing forces. This gave our two remaining troops, Rhian Salmon with her blazing dreadlocks and Kev O'Donnell, armed to the teeth with fire-breathing haggis, time to mount a last assault from the Conning Tower. Mike Rooney was suddenly knocked into an alternate reality by a two-punch combo to the head and nether regions courtesy of the hose water jet!

In turn, the battle weary FIDS were brought before King Neptune to account for their crimes. After the outrageous claims were read before the court by Neptune's QC (Steve Buxton, RO), the band awaited their punishment. In turn, members of the Resistance endured the dreadful acts of savagery forced upon them by Neptune's men:

The Pink Mouthwash of Unspeakable Pinkness administered by the Crazy Doc, The Festering Bucket of Inedible Horrors and finally, the enforced 80's Mullet Massacre

Yes, Crossing the Line was indeed a dark day for the Resistance!

'May the Farce Be With You'

Mike Rooney

Wavey-Davey's Weekly Whit-spot.

Davey says - 'A Clown was fired from his job at the Circus...'
He then sued the Circus Owners for 'Funfair Dismissal'


Last week, we introduced you to the forthcoming 'sacrifice of the locks' that was proposed by Ben and taken up by Rhian. Notices sent out via the email system to the Bases, JCR, and Cambridge HQ together with last week's write-up on the Web brought in quite a harvest of pledges. The initial idea was that whatever Rhian could raise, Ben would double and if it amounted to more than GBP 300.00 then Rhian would agree to have her dreadlocks removed.

Rhian's dreadlocks. Click to enlarge.

And there was plenty of hair to remove as can be seen.  Rhian had been nursing her Dreads for years so this was quite a sacrifice indeed.

At the BBQ to celebrate the Crossing of the Line ceremony, everybody threw back lots of good food to combat the taste of the horrible gunk digested by accident that afternoon. Even if they had not had a syringe of something ghastly injected into their mouths, plenty of good food was consumed by all. As the sun went down and the balmy evening descended upon the Poop deck, thoughts turned to Rhian's challenge. Out came the hair clippers, ably wielded by Bob the Lecky and Rob the Engineer. You would think to look at their completed efforts that they are better with a spanner and screwdriver than with hair clippers - I don't know, what do you think???

Rhian was far from the first. She was the crowning glory (or gory) as Craig went Mohican, Kevin went 'Monkish' and Ben lost his lovely locks to retain only a poor excuse for a ponytail. Snip, snip, snip, went the clippers and Rhian was seen to be hiding up near the HVAC* room (HVAC = Ventilation and Air Conditioning Room). But I don't think there was any doubt that she would go through with it despite her obvious anxieties. With all the initial emails sent out far and wide, Rhian managed to raise over GBP 7,500.00 in pledges.  Yes, that's right. I shall say it again.

GBP  7,500.00.

It really was a magnificent effort and with only 30 persons onboard, GBP 1,600.00 of that was raised onboard alone. Rhian has been beside herself at the generosity and kindness of everyone who has contributed so far. But having such pledges, there had to come a time to 'pay the piper' and Rhian finally took the seat to be watched by everyone as she lost her luscious locks. An auction for the 'first lock' brought in an additional GBP 155.00 and then Rhian raised the scissors and the exercise began.

Rhian takes the first Snip. Click to enlarge. Click on Images Rhian takes the seat where many have gone before. Click to enlarge.
Rhian takes the first Snip. Rhian takes the seat where many have gone before.
'Sweeney Rob' takes over and soon reduces Rhian to a Snooker Ball! Click to enlarge. Click on Images Rhian with her equally hairless colleagues. Click to enlarge.
'Sweeney Rob' takes over and soon reduces Rhian to a Snooker Ball!
Finally, a shot of Rhian with her equally hairless colleagues. Many a funny hairstyle was created that evening!

The pictures, alas, do not do justice to wonderful feeling of well-being and mirth that filled the poop-deck that evening. The charity to which the funds will be going is The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Africa, and for more information, revise the article in last week's Diary.

Finally, a word from 'Baldie' Rhian herself...

Dear friends, strangers, kind people out there in the ether...

We have had over SEVEN AND A HALF THOUSAND POUNDS in pledges for my hair to be shaved off! Thank you so much - I had no idea you felt so strongly! We have been amazed and very touched by the generosity that has been shown this last week - thank you all for your pledges.

Thank you all once again. That was the most expensive haircut ever and worth every penny!


Wavey-Davey's Additional Weekly Whit-spot.

And now, topically...

Davey said - 'why don't you paint lots of rabbits on your head, Rhian'.
'Why', was the obvious question?
'Because from a distance, they just look like hares!!!'.

And finally, the vessel now heads for Montevideo and the proposed crew-change. We anticipate a Thursday afternoon arrival with the oncoming crew boarding directly we get alongside. As I type, the out-coming crew will be boarding planes to fly to South America were they will have some days to await the ship's arrival. One day for the 'handover' and then Capt John Marshall will be taking the vessel onward to the next port of call which is Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

For the off-going crew, it will be an overnight in Montevideo before catching their flights back to the UK and onwards. Apologies for a very disjointed webpage during this North Sea and Refit period. However, it has been a very fulfilled season and the crew are looking forward to going on leave. Until the next time the Capt Chapman crew are onboard, it's 'Adios' and 'Hasta Luego' from us and 'Ola' from the new joiners.

Forthcoming events: Continue for Montevideo, South America for Crew Change and to embark an additional 29 passengers...

Contributors this week: Rhian for her words and magnificent haircut. To King Neptune and his Queen for paying us a visit this week. To all the photographers onboard who were on the scene to record the events, and apologies for only being able to use the smallest fraction of the photos submitted. Thanks too for the Mickey's-eye view and the write-up of Meteological Observations from Vanessa. Good work, you lot.

Diary 8 of the forthcoming Antarctic Season will be written on 23rd November for publication on 24th November 2003 (on the assumption that we can find a relief Web-editor willing to take up the reins and chronicle the further adventures of the Ernest Shackleton ).

Stevie B