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25 Jan - Stanley to KEP

Date: Sunday 25th January 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 55° 57' South 17° 59' West.
Next destination: Halley
ETA: Not known at present
Distance to go: Not known at present
Distance sailed from Stanley: 1531 nmiles
Distance sailed from KEP: 734 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 15171 nmiles
Current weather: Overcast, clear
Sea State: Moderate sea and swell

Wind: SW by W force 3-4
Barometric pressure: 1007.3 mmHg
Air temperature: 1.8 °C
Sea temperature: 1.8 °C

 Position Map. Click to see position map.

This Week on ES

Stanley to KEP

The ship sailed from Stanley on Monday morning on a bright but quite breezy day. The next few days were fairly uneventful until on Thursday morning, another sunny day, we were greeted by the sight of South Georgia's rocky peaks moving past the starboard side of the ship. More often than not, the island is wearing a grey mantle of cloud, but she shrugged it off for us as we sailed past. A passing Hercules aeroplane caused some entertainment, especially when they radioed a nearby tour ship to ask whether she had a permit to visit the island (she did).

The beautiful peaks of South Georgia. The coast of South Georgia on a fine and sunny day - click to see image

As we had deposited Gavin Francis, Craig Nicholson, Steve Canham and Andy Hodson on the Falklands for their varied trips home from spells at Halley and Signy, Ben and I were the only FIDS left on the ship. Ben gets a bit of a raw deal when we stop at bases as he usually has queues of people waiting to see him for dental work, whereas I can usually escape for a bit of sightseeing. Of course many of the ship's crew are either on duty or working cargo too so sometimes don't get a chance to see much of the spectacular places we visit.

he's gone mad... Ben looks forward to a busy dental surgery - click to see image

I left King Edward Point last December after spending a fantastic 14 months there, so this visit was a real bonus to me - as soon as the gangway was down I was off to visit old friends at the base and at Grytviken (especially a grinning lumberjack lookalike who'd cycled over from the whaling station to meet the ship!).

The South Georgia Government is currently clearing hazards from the old whaling station of Grytviken (across the bay from King Edward Point) - this is being done by a team of contractors from AWG. The old station is full of asbestos so specialist asbestos removal teams are working hard in difficult conditions to remove it all. This is being monitored by asbestos consultants on the site. In the oil tanks around the station and in the three whale and seal catching ships sunk at the jetty there is still a lot of oil left, which is being removed so it does not pollute the sensitive environment of Cumberland Bay. The Chilean tug Luma had arrived a few days previously with divers and other salvage experts on board (as an inhabitant of KEP I got to know Luma and her crew well when she was down to try and refloat the wrecked fishing vessel Lyn over the winter - see past KEP diaries for further info) and while we were there they were working hard in conjunction with the AWG team to refloat the former whale catcher Petrel. This involved divers going down underwater to patch up Petrel's hull, then at low tide huge pumps were used to pump out the water from inside. Later that evening (after we had left KEP) the teams were successful and Petrel was afloat again.

In my travels around the vicinity of King Edward Cove I also got to meet John and Ileen Smith from Stanley (John has written an excellent book about the Argentinian occupation of the Falkland Islands in 1982) who were lecturers on the tour ship World Discoverer which was also visiting at the time, Steve Massam who is a taxidermist staying on South Georgia for a few months under the Shackleton Scholarship scheme, and a huge toothfish which Steve was taxiderming. In fact I had seen the fish (which was longer than I am tall and very nearly as heavy - those who know me won't be as impressed by that as they should be...) before but only under wraps when it was carefully presented to the Grytviken museum by the fishing vessel which had caught it. Somehow it hadn't looked as enormous then as it did now.

Well, I'm afraid I was having so much fun I really don't know what anyone else off the ship got up to at KEP! All too soon our visit was over and we were off.

Back home. Grytviken and KEP looking lovely - click to see image

During the night we spent a while passing 2 mega-bergs to the north-east of South Georgia which were a good proportion of the size of the island itself. Then on our way to do some science (us? not the JCR?!!!). More next week...

Crewman of the Week

This week our featured member of the ES crew is Ash Huntley. Ash is our 2nd Cook and is originally from Newcastle but now lives in Ramsgate.

His favourite place so far has been South Georgia (can't say I argue with that!).

Ash sends a big hello and lots of love to Ems and Nems, he'll see you soon!

Ash in the galley. Ash cooking up some tasty morsels for tonight's meal - click to see image

Ash also has a useful piece of advice for everyone - don't try and trim your eyebrows when the ship is rolling!!!

Birthdays this week: "Dishy" Dolly, 23 on the 23rd January, and not forgetting the Chief Engineer who had a milestone on the 20th. Congratulations!

Forthcoming Events: Beaker stuff.

Contributors this week: Chris Handy for his photo of Bentist.

Late again... sorry... especially to Ray's friends and all avid diary followers...

Bye for now, Sue D.