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01 Feb - Burns Night

Date: Sunday 1 February 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 70° 33' South 019° 06' West.
Next destination: Halley
ETA: 3-4 February
Distance to go: 366.6 nmiles
Distance sailed from KEP: 2390.9 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 17562 nmiles

Current weather: Cloudy, fine and clear
Sea State: Slight sea, low swell
Wind: SE force 4-5
Barometric pressure: 998.0 mmHg
Air temperature: -0.3°C
Sea temperature: -0.3°C
We are here... Click to see position map.


This Week on ES

Burns Night, the treatment of burns, and life in a lifeboat

The end of last week saw us heading away from KEP and way off east past the South Sandwich Islands. We were off to do a STCM (Shipboard Three Component Magnetometer) survey. A bit more about that later. Sunday night was Burns' Night but Keith the Chief Cook forgot the haggis, much to everyone else's delight. (we eventually had it on Tuesday).

On Monday afternoon we had one of our frequent fire and boat drills. The scenario for Monday's drill was that the deep fat fryer was on fire, and Keith had become overcome by smoke. Two rescue parties went into the galley wearing breathing apparatus and between them controlled the fire and rescued Keith. Keith is not a small man so it was a good test of our stretcher capabilities - everything went really smoothly and Keith was quickly evacuated to the dry lab where he was met by the First Aid party and pronounced to be a fraud.

After a brief run-through of the treatment of burns and smoke inhalation, the drill continued and we all entered the lifeboats. The sequence of events for this is that everyone musters in the mess room, then the two lifeboats are called in turn. The people for that lifeboat are led outside where they are handed a lifejacket then go up the stairs, shout out their name to the talley person and enter the boat. On entering the boat they move round as far as they can go, sit down, strap themselves in and wait for action. The boats carry drinking water, rations and other survival equipment, enough to keep everyone going hopefully until rescue, but are obviously not palatial or comfortable vessels. Here Ben demonstrates what it's like inside a lifeboat (without the other 30-odd inhabitants!).

What about the chocolate hostages? Ben in the port side boat - click to see image

Physician, Heal Thyself...

Monday and Tuesday were relatively calm days spent sailing towards the STCM survey, but the next three days were a bit more violent. I succumbed to seasickness and became officially the most seasick doctor ever seen on the Shackleton (Sorry, Mary, you've lost that accolade!). By the third day my cabin was getting very boring and the crew was queueing up like vultures ready to practice their cannula insertion technique and put up intravenous drips... Luckily my stomach chose that night to stop messing around and behave itself again.

Seriously though, everyone was very attentive and I couldn't have been better looked after if Charlie and Duffy from "Casualty" had been on the ship.

Not my favourite view... My view for 95% of the time... - click to see image

...but better than this one. ...and for the other 5 %... - click to see image

Doing the Science Thing

Anyway, back to the STCM, the hated instrument which had indirectly caused all my misery by making us ride the swell eastwards and then back westwards - well, actually I don't know much about it and I'm not sure anyone else on the ship does either. It has been recording the magnetic field along our route - a planned route where there has not been much magnetometry information collected previously.

I asked the Mate what the magnetometer looked like so that I could take a photo for the web page, and he directed me to a nondescript looking grey box with a pole sticking out of it, saying that it would not make a very interesting picture. Well, he was right - I have tried to make it look as attractive as I can but let's face it, it's a grey box with a pole sticking out of it (with some clever electronics inside it).

Not the most exciting bit of equipment... The magnetometer - click to see image

When we had finished the STCM transect, we set off back down towards Halley. Along the way we encountered a few whales and some pretty icebergs, like the one below.

Yet another photogenic berg A pretty iceberg on the port side of the bridge - click to see image

The Ernest Shackleton Big Screen Cinema

Ben has set up the new digital projector in the Green Room so we now have a (fairly) big screen cinema - we celebrated by having "Epic Week". Why does no-one make films with intermissions any more? This week's film programme included "Zulu", "Gone with the Wind", "Gandhi" and "2001: A Space Odyssey". For the latter, we had an usherette who brought us fancy ice-creams during the interval. Stevie seemed to be enjoying the intermission more than the rest of the film, but Dolly slept through all the excitement. Chicago gave us well-informed opinions on the plot and the director, and Ben for once kept his bowels in check.

Hotdogs? Popcorn? Ice creams? Our very own usherette - click to see image

Julia and Steve "Can I have a cherry on top?" - click to see image


Crewmen of the Week

This week we have a double bill from the engine room - 4th Engineer Tom Balfe and 3rd Engineer Kev Waterhouse.

Kev and Tom (in their own words) help keep the lights on and the screw turning, and are collectively known as "Itchy and Scratchy".

Kev joined the ship in Stanley in place of Rags (see diary for 18 Jan), and has so far demonstrated a propensity to e-mail the Chief Engineer with graphic love notes and an impressive (but futile) grovelling technique when he discovered his mistake...

Tom says, "Hi and lots of love to Marion and all who know me". Kev says, "Hi to everyone who knows me and good luck to the Boro in the Carling Cup!"

Itchy and Scratchy - or is that Scratchy and Itchy? Tom and Kev - click to see image



Birthdays this week: Ben "The Dentist" Molyneux, 29 on Australia Day (26th January).

Forthcoming Events: Arrival in the vicinity of Halley.

Contributors this week: Iceberg photo: Chris Handy. Film photos: Tom Waller. Keeping me alive: The Officers and Crew of the RRS Ernest Shackleton, with special mention to the catering and dental sections for feeding me grapes and finding the Dioralyte, and Steve Mee for offering to read to me.

Diary 19 should be available around the 9th February, as it's much calmer in the ice!


Bye for now, Sue D.