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30 Nov - Gentoo Colony

Date: Sunday 30th November 2003
Position @ 1200 (UTC): Mare Harbour East Falkland 51°54 South 58°26 West.
Next destination: Signy, South Orkney Islands.
ETD: 1600 this afternoon.
ETA:   AM Wednesday 3rd December 2003.
Distance to go:   703 Nautical Miles.

Current weather: Overcast, occasional showers.
Wind: South-Westerly, 19 Knots.
Barometric pressure:  997.4 mb.
Air temperature: 8.6°C.
Sea temperature: 6.9°C.
Return of the Position Maps.
Position map 29/11/2003 Click on Image to Enlarge.


This Week on ES

It's been another busy week. We made it into Stanley in one piece and moored up just in front of the JCR. Trans shipping began immediately but for those of us who weren't involved, there was the opportunity to see a bit of the Falklands. Some people stayed around Stanley enjoying their last chance to shop and sit in Café', some ventured on day trips to the likes of the penguin colony at Volunteer point or the battlefields of Goose green and Tumbledown.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Ben the Dentist, Rhian who used to have dreads and Emma the JCR Doctor out on the west coast of East Falkland at Port San Carlos.

 Port San Carlos at dusk Click to see Port San Carlos

It was absolutely lovely to spend a night in a house with a real bed again! We had the chance to go out to a Gentoo colony where they have the occasional King Penguin. We saw about 600 Gentoos and just 6 Kings. Those of us that hadn't seen penguins before were suitably impressed and even those that had enjoyed the chance to see them again. Its amazing how unconcerned they are at our presence. Its possible to get close enough to take a meaningful picture so that you might actually be able to convince your friends back home that you were there!

 King Penguin at Palermo beach Click to see image

Back in Stanley there was a big night out for all the dignitaries on the JCR. It was the leaving party for Miriam who has worked in the BAS office in Stanley for many years. We would all like to extend our thanks to Miriam for all her hard work. We look forward to seeing more of her replacement, Pauline's friendly face in the future.

It was great to see the JCR in Stanley, just to compare the two ships. I think that they're very different and obviously both capable but having come this far on the Shack, my allegiances lie with her.

On Friday morning we left the JCR in Stanley and headed round to Mare Harbour where we've been bunkering (refueling), and testing the small boats ready to leave later this after noon on our way to Signy. There are several black and white Commerson's dolphins in the harbour and they enjoyed swimming around the boats and giving everyone a good view. Some lucky people were allowed a quick spin in the fast response craft.

 Fast response craft Click to see image

At Mare Harbour people have been going up to the military base at Mount Pleasant or walking along Bertha's beach to a Gentoo colony. It's very bleak over here but beautiful in a rugged, windswept, wild kind of way. It's a bit like Dartmoor's rolling moor, with the beaches of the Scillies and the weather of the west coast of Scotland.

 Gentoo Colony Click to see Gentoos

We're off to signy this after noon and I think we've all been making the most of the opportunity to do some last minute shopping but also very excited about getting to the first of the bases. Suddenly it all seems very real again.

A �Quick' Trip to Entertain the Penguins By Craig Nicholls

It all Began when Gareth, Nigel, and Rooney my cabin �mates' returned, from what I found out later was a six hour walk to the Penguin colony; �the penguins were great and just along the coast� they lied.

Gareth said �but they looked a bit bored just sitting there on their nests.'

It was at that moment I decided to set up an entertainments expedition to cheer up the sweet little penguins that were facing the next few months as egg cosies!

At nine the next morning the concert party massed on the deck; Nigel in a wig and �Rooney' sporting just a touch of eye make-up. With the temperature just above freezing and the winds blowing at 40 Knots we donned our hats and scarves, with Vanessa's packed lunch provided we were ready for anything.

After negotiating two sets of barbed wire fences successfully (It being a military port), we put our heads down at 45 degrees and were off.

After an hour and a half the Falkland Island Turkey Vultures were circling above us an ominous sign. �How much further' I asked, 'We're nearly there' Nigel, whose pants were on fire, shouted above the shrieking wind.

In front of us four or five penguins were dashing in and out of the water, we asked them where the nest site was and they kindly led us up the beach arms back, waddling as they went one after the other.

We arrived to find 40-50 grumpy, but lovely penguins sitting on their nests. To start we went straight into the puppet show which most penguins loved, obviously there would always be some drunk heckling (see Photo).

 What must the penguin on the right think? Click to see Image

Rooney then went into his big musical number and brought the Rookery down after lots of flipper clapping and two encores we signed autographs and departed leaving them wanting more.

Two hours later we were back on the ship drinking hot chocolate and knowing we had done our bit for conservation... next stop Signy... 'the World'.

Forthcoming Events: Arrival at Signy with relief and maintenance work.

Contributors this week: Craigy Met Babe, the other Weymouth boy on the Shack!

Diary 9 should be available around the 8th December.

That's all for now. Hello to everyone who knows me and thanks in advance to all the people who sent me birthday cards.