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22 Feb - Breakout!

Date: Sunday 22 February 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 67° 34' South 025° 00' West.
Next destination: King Edward Point
ETA: 26 February
Distance to go: 919.8 nmiles
Distance sailed from Halley: 560 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 18827 nmiles

Current weather: Cloudy, fine and clear
Sea State: Moderate sea and swell
Wind: WSW force 4-5
Barometric pressure: 987.4 mmHg
Air temperature: -2.8°C
Sea temperature: -1.0°C
We are here... Click to see position map.

This Week on ES


On Sunday afternoon, I took the bus (ie. sno-cat) up to Halley. A few hours later, the Ernest Shackleton was cruising about on the open sea without me. Had the Captain forgotten me? Was this all part of a wicked plan to increase the number of Halley winterers? No - what had in fact happened is that the sea ice had suddenly decided to make a break for it. Existing cracks between the ship and her moorings became much wider, and it was clear that large chunks of sea ice were becoming detached from the fast ice. The moorings for the Shackleton's lines are designed to be quickly released for cases such as these, so a small mooring party was lowered onto the ice to release the shackles.

Oh dear... A crack appears in the sea-ice at sunset - click to see image

Mooring team to the rescue The mooring team go out onto the ice to release the moorings - click to see image

During Monday no one ventured out onto the sea ice while conditions settled down, then on Tuesday a group of people from Halley (including me) was brought across to the ship by skidoo. The breakout on Sunday signalled the end of work with sno-cats on the sea ice, as the remaining ice had too many active cracks to be workable. Thankfully the majority of the essential cargo had been moved, and the half-sledge worth of remaining boxes was brought down by skidoo and loaded onto the ship.

Back on the Shack...

The outgoing Halley crew was arriving on the ship by dribs and drabs throughout the week. For most this was party time, as they now had time to relax after the busy summer season. The red room was full most evenings and witnessed lots of fun and games. During the daytime, the sauna, gym and badminton court have been popular venues.

Nelly, Elaine, Ben M and Rob The Ernest Shackleton Cabaret in full swing - click to see image

Goodbye to the Halley winterers

We set sail from the vicinity of Creek 2 on Friday 20th February, leaving the 18 winterers to their fate. Most of them came down to the bottom of the ramp and waved us off with flares. We responded with a blast from the ship's whistle (it would have been more but once again it had frozen up). For some of those on the ship, it was the last sight of what they had called "home" for the past two and a half years. Mixed feelings were in abundance.

Adios, amigos! On the heli deck to wave to the Halley winterers - click to see image

Ed and Graeme The last of the wintering team about to return to Halley across the sea ice - click to see image

For the rest of the week we have been at sea heading for South Georgia. The weather has been good and the seas calm so far. Next stop South G!

Crewmen of the Week

This week's lucky men are Bosun's Mate Ray Davis and Bosun Cris Littlehales.

Ray has recently had a makeover, involving a dental appointment and a visit to the hairdresser. He is originally from the Falklands but now lives in Wallsend in the UK. Ray has worked for BAS for 9 years.

The good... Raimondo before his appointment with the barber... ...the bad... and afterwards. Click on pictures to see images

Cris is something of a BAS legend. More commonly known as Chicago, he has struck terror into generations of deck boys and FIDs - but under that rugged exterior lurks a heart of gold. Unfortunately, no-one seems to have found it yet... Recently his rousing pep-talks have spurred his merry band of deckies into furious activity. A die-hard Manchester United supporter, after work Chicago likes to relax with a pint in his local.

...and the ugly. Chicago - click to see image

Forthcoming Events: A fleeting visit to KEP, then muscle flexing at Bird Island.

Contributors this week: Photos: Chris Handy and Chris Gilbert.

Diary 22 should be available around the 1st March

Bye for now, Sue D.

(Happy 60th Birthday Dad, sorry I couldn't be there but hope you had a fantastic day).