28 Mar - By Jumany!
Date: Sunday 28th March 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 56° 38' South 59° 30' West.
Next destination: Danco
ETA: Tues pm
Distance to go: 515 nmiles
Distance sailed from Stanley: 306 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 23208 nmiles
Current weather: Part cloudy, fine and clear
Sea State: Rough sea, moderate swell
Wind: WNW Force 6
Barometric pressure: 982.1 mmHg
Air temperature: 5.6°C
Sea temperature: 5.8°C
Click to see position map.
This Week on ES
Jubany Research Station
Jubany Base, King George Island. We stopped here briefly on our way North to collect three German scientists who had spent the austral summer based here. Jubany base is run by the Argentineans and is manned year round. The base consisted of a collection of bright red coloured buildings, nestled below Three Brothers Hill (seen to the right of the photograph). Waiting for us on the beach as we approached in two of the ship's Humbers were the three German scientists, the Argentinean base members and a large collection of boxes.
I went ashore in my quest for the Antarctic grass, Deschampsia antarctica, leaving the ship's crew to transfer the many boxes from shore to ship. There was just enough time for me to collect my samples before returning to the ship. The German scientists, Norbert, Richard and Katerina, appeared to have struck up strong friendships with the Argentinean crew. Warm farewells were said and all too soon we were back on board the Ernest Shackleton and steaming towards the infamous Drake's Passage...
One fairly common occurrence on the Ernest Shackleton is finding birds trapped on the Monkey Island. The birds get disorientated by the ship's lights, especially in poor visibility such as fog or heavy snow, and crash-land on the ship. Once they are on board it is often difficult for them to take off again from such a confined space so if not discovered, they can suffer badly from hypothermia and starvation. Luckily, we are such an inquisitive bunch on board that these birds are invariably found before they get too frail, and it is very satisfying to scoop them up, throw them over the side of the ship, and see them fly away.
Port Stanley, 24/03/04 to 27/03/04
Early on Wednesday morning, the Ernest Shackleton arrived at Port Stanley. I was up early and out on the monkey island to watch Port Stanley slowly appear. It was a glorious morning and felt incredibly tropical, after 18 months of biting Antarctic breezes at Rothera. My first view was of Cape Pembroke, and the lighthouse there.
Everyone, crew and FIDs alike were anxious to disembark so once customs had cleared the ship the floodgates were lifted and we all poured ashore. For many of us, this was our first taste of ‘the real world’ in quite some time. Simple pleasures such as walking on soft bouncy grass and smelling greenery were enjoyed. These were short lived as, on the walk into Stanley, almost all were caught in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. It was still exciting.
In and around Stanley, there seemed to be plenty to do or see. Some people contented themselves looking around the shops, others went for a swim at the local pool and others went for walks. On my first afternoon in Stanley, I wandered out to a little beach called Gypsy Cove. It seemed idyllic, marred only by the mine warning fences. Lots of Magellan penguins make their home around Gypsy Cove and we saw several peering out at us from their little burrows. The beach itself was lovely golden sands and turquoise water. Not as warm as it appeared as I soon discovered on going for a swim!
The next day, Andy Barker had organised a marathon hike for those interested. Matt Jobson, Baz, Ed and I all presented ourselves at 0800h ready for the challenge. As it was it was a glorious day and we all had a lot of fun. We started out at Moody Brook, walked along Wireless Ridge to Mt. Longdon, then across to the Two Sisters before finally descending back to Moody Brook via Tumbledown Mountain. A very kind lady gave five bedraggled FIDs a lift back into Stanley.
One of the treats Stanley had in store for us was Shania Twain night at the Globe Public House on Thursday night - organised by our very own ETO (Elect) Tom Waller. As regular readers may be aware, Tom is a huge Shania Twain fan, and as he also has DJ-ing experience, he got together with the landladies of the Globe and arranged his Shania Night.
The event was well attended by both ship's crew and locals - even the landlady of the Vic Public House across the road came over to "get on down" to some Shania tunes.
Tom had been receiving cryptic packages for weeks from the Shania Fan Club - these turned out to be prizes to be handed out on the night and were very popular. As this was probably the most southerly Shania event in the world, it is rumoured that Shania Twain herself took an interest.
After some strenuous dancing, dubious singing and the inevitable appearance of the Red Room Air Band, it was over all too soon. The punters spilled out onto the path back to the Shack, singing "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" and "That Don't Impress Me Much" - suffice it to say that everyone who went along got sucked into the party atmosphere, so many thanks to Tom who did a great job "spinning those discs".
Stanley life is, to an outsider, very much how life in Britain should be. Stanley is a place where everyone knows everyone else, where teenagers are polite and friendly, where the community spirit means that the death of a popular young woman in a road accident leaves the city devastated and the birth of a baby the following day gives a bit of comfort, where no-one minds too much that items on the supermarket shelves are a few months out of date, where all the houses, fences and fire hydrants are painted in bright colours, where people leave their houses unlocked and their vehicle keys in the ignition, where landrovers almost outnumber people, and everybody gives way with a friendly wave on the roads. As with everywhere, the Falkland Islands have their niggles and problems, but as evidenced by the eastern expansion of Stanley, it's a great place to live.
On the last day of our call, yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur sailed her new trimaran Castorama B&Q into Stanley Harbour and made a few runs up and down before starting her single-handed voyage north to either New York or Europe. She had sailed the trimaran from Auckland to the Falklands with two other crew members as a test of its seaworthiness, but this was the first time she had embarked on a voyage single-handedly sailing the trimaran. To the many people watching, the boat was very large and very fast - dwarfing its following flotilla of press and well-wishers and even making the Fishery Patrol ship Sigma look somewhat insignificant.
After three days in Stanley, the ship was all unloaded and re-supplied and complete with a new crew. It was time to say goodbye to those who were heading home and head south again.
The Goatee Club
Just a quick mention to those dodgy fellows in the engine room who have been trying to grow "corporate image" goatee beards. Mally didn't have to try too hard as he already has one, but Craig, Tom B and Kev endured the itching and scratching for a few weeks to come up with the efforts pictured below.
Honorary Crewmen of the Week
As it's crew-change week, let's have a look at those long-term "honorary crew-members" who aren't changing over.
Ben "The Dentist" Molyneux holds the current record of time on the ship this season, having sailed all the way from the UK back in October last year. Ben is responsible for making sure all the BAS gnashers are in perfect condition, especially those people wintering who would otherwise have a keen but inexperienced doctor on the other end of the dental drill in the event of any problems. Unfortunately this means that Ben is usually very busy in the surgery whenever the ship stops at somewhere interesting. However, he has now almost finished his dental check-ups and is due to fly out from Stanley on our next call - before flying down next year for a second season on the Shack.
Ben also holds the unenviable position of King FID - meaning that he is the chap responsible for drawing up gash (cleaning and rubbish removal) rotas, making sure the FIDs on board behave themselves, and generally being the point of information transfer between the ship's officers and the FIDs.
I've been on board the Shack since she whisked me away from King Edward Point (where I was the wintering doctor) back in mid-December. Having earned myself the worrying nickname "Seasick Sue" I worked hard to get my sea-legs, and have so far succeeded - up to a point! Being a ship's doctor is 95% sightseeing (when it's not too bumpy!), 4% sorting out minor medical problems and paperwork, and 1% very serious stuff. As well as the medical duties, the job of web diarist often falls to the doctor by default (we're usually the least busy person on the ship). Here's a photo of me with Nelly at Shania Night...
I've recently been joined by Dr Jane Nash from Rothera so the ship now has a crack medical team of a dentist, two doctors and a host of knowledgeable and experienced first-aiders on board. Jane and I are sharing the medical duties - which includes the web pages - so watch this space!
Forthcoming Events: Heading back down the Peninsula to collect the Abandoned Bases team from Danco Island and continue the Abandoned Bases project.
Contributors this week: Text by Doc Jane and Doc Sue; Ellen's trimaran photo by Rich Burt; first two Shania photos, outgoing crew photo, photo of himself (doctored by Sue), and Nelly and Sue photo by Ben Molyneux; Shack Posse photo by Tom Waller, all other photos by Sue Dowling.
Info about Ellen MacArthur from the Penguin News.
Diary 27 should be available soon.
Many thanks to the folks of Stanley, especially Myles and Karen for the loan of the landrover, and the kind lady who took pity on the FIDs!
Bye for now, Sue and Jane.