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18 Jan - A Choppy Journey

Date: Sunday 18 January 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 51° 43' South 57° 41' West.
Currently at: FIPASS, Stanley
Distance sailed from Signy: 748 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 13640 nmiles
Current weather: Few clouds, fine and clear
Sea State: N/A

Wind: W force 6
Barometric pressure: 1011.6 mmHg
Air temperature: 15.4°C
Sea temperature: 12.0°C
Position map - click to enlarge. Click to see position map.

This Week on ES

Signy to East Cove - a choppy journey

Soon after leaving Signy, we found ourselves forging a path through an extensive iceberg field. Seen from the bridge, icebergs were all around from horizon to horizon - bergs of many shapes and sizes.

 Icebergs everywhere... Bergs seen from the bridge - click to see image.

 Bergs all around. What the radar showed... click to see image.

We set off from Signy on Sunday afternoon and reached East Cove in the Falklands on Wednesday afternoon. The seas were pretty heavy for most of this time, and at around 20:30 on Monday there was an almighty roll. Everything that wasn't fastened down (and a good many things that were) flew off shelves, desks, tables, etc, and as we all flew out of our chairs and bunks we could hear crashing and banging from all over the ship. The worst casualty was the fridge, all but 3 of our mayonnaise containers burst and mixed with cooking oil to form a sea of gunk all over the floor. Everything had to be carried out of the fridge and wiped down before being replaced - the clean-up team was too busy to take photos so Ben has drawn an artist's impression:

 Artist's impression by Ben. The events of Monday night - click to see image.

I'm not sure who the guy in the dodgy hat and apron is meant to be, but everything else is pretty true to life!

Back in the Falklands

On reaching the Falklands, a group of ship's crew plus a few of us FIDS took the bus the 40-odd miles from Mare Harbour to Stanley for the evening. Nelly, who was once an Ibiza tour guide, tried to recreate the Ibiza coach experience but his efforts to make a group of rowdy seamen into, well, a group of rowdy clubbers was not amazingly successful. Still, there were some good views from the coach windows.

 Chicago and Nelly. The view from the window - whoops, wrong view...

 Sunlight streaming through the clouds. ...here's a better one! - click to see image.

The following day, I went along with Ben, Gavin and Craig to the military complex at Mount Pleasant Airport. Bearing in mind that Gavin, Craig and I had been away from any form of shop, leisure centre, or indeed any aggregation larger than about 40 people for over a year, this outing was very exciting. We sat and drank fancy tea and read the papers and chatted to the nice lady in the Oasis coffee shop, then Ben and Gavin had a swim in the pool (Ben looked serious in the fast lane, but Gavin seemed to have invented two new strokes - the "sedate old lady trying not to get her hair wet" stroke and the "upside-down frog" stroke). We ended the day by buying Pot Noodles and magazines, walking for the fourth time the length of what must be one of the longest corridors in the world, and remarking once again to each other how youthful some of the young soldiers passing us appeared.

 Gavin and Ben in the pool. Gavin's first bath for over a year - click to see image.

On Friday the ship sailed the 48 miles from East Cove to Stanley. During the evening the House of Lords Working Party on Science and Technology came on board for a tour of the ship and a few drinks - they were in Stanley having just returned from a visit to Rothera.

The following evening, Captain Marshall, Chief Officer John Harper, Purser Dave Bailey, Chief Engineer Pete Brigden and I were all invited to a reception at Government House to mark Possession Day. This is a sort of national holiday for South Georgia - the anniversary of Captain James Cook making the first landing on the island in 1775 and claiming it for Britain. The weather was sunny and warm, so the reception took place on the Government House lawn - according to the Governor, an outside gathering is a very rare event!

In fact the weather was stunningly good throughout our time in the Falklands and everyone made the most of the Stanley shops, restaurants and bars.

Crewman of the Week

This week's crewman has got to be 3rd Engineer Rags (Robert MacAskill), who not only celebrated his 40th birthday on Tuesday 13th January, but signed off for good the following day!

Rags is a Falklander who joined the RRS Bransfield as Motorman Grade 1 on 9th January 1987, and has served on the Bransfield, the James Clark Ross and the Ernest Shackleton. He joined the Shack as 3rd Engineer in July 2002.

Rags is an excellent engineer and a superb guitar player. He has "retired" from the Shackleton to join his wife Tracey in running their pub the Rose, the oldest pub in the Falklands.

 Party popper. Tom Balfe and Rags letting off a giant party popper extravaganza - click to see image.

The crew had a few drinks in the Red Room on Tuesday night, during which Rags was presented with a hand crafted brass and mahogany plaque made by his fellow engineers.

Birthdays this week: Rags, 40 on 13th January; Stevie Mee, 38 (yeah, right!) on 18th January

 Birthday boys. The Birthday Boys Rags and Steve serenading something - click to see image.

Forthcoming Events: Rumours of a trip to KEP!

Contributors this week: Ben for his drawing skills, Pete Brigden for information about Rags, and Pete and Tom Waller for photos.

I'm still (after 6 weeks on the ship!) getting my sea legs, which is the reason why the diary pages are sometimes a bit late! Hopefully next week's will follow fairly soon...

Bye for now, Sue D.