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25 Apr - An Interim Report

Date: Sunday 25th April 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -4): 51�07' South 057�15' West.
Next destination: The Humber Ports, Lincolnshire, England UK.
ETA: 23rd May 2004
Distance to go: 6836.0 nmiles
Distance sailed from the Falkland Islands: 42.0 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 23949.0 nmiles.

Current weather: Fine but Cloudy
Sea State: Moderate
Wind: 290 Degrees / 20 Knts.
Barometric pressure: 999.5mmHg
Air temperature: 8.9�C
Sea temperature: 9.0�C

 We are here... Click to see position map.


This Week on ES

The RRS Ernest Shackleton has only just departed the fair metropolis of Stanley, Falkland Islands this very morning.

It's a glorious day to be setting off to sea and moreso, because our next landfall will be back in the UK as we bring yet another Antarctic Season to a close. The plethora of pictures that have collected on the 'common' computer drives have been officially archived to CD-Rom and attentions are turning to our arrival in the UK and forthcoming North Sea Season.

Since the publication of the last RockHopper Diary we have departed Prospect Point, re-visited Rothera, made a leisurely cruise North through some of the most breathtaking scenery that the Antarctic Peninsula has to boast, and finally returned safe and well to our 'registered home' of Stanley. It doesn't seem so much in the space of 2 lines, but in reality, so much has occurred in the 2 weeks since we departed Base J (*).

Dr's Sue and Jane have documented the exploits in the Diaries of the Shackleton, but due to technical setbacks these have been slow in coming to the World Wide Web, but hopefully will be published in the fullness of time so you can keep abreast of the Shackleton Saga. Our Doctors are still onboard and ever-present to continue the weekly editorials, but meanwhile it's 'very many thanks' to Richard Wilson and the Rockhopper organisation for getting word through to the world in general about the ship's progress.

In Stanley we said 'Farewell' to the majority of FIDS who had travelled the length of the Peninsula with us on the RRS Ernest Shackleton, not least of which were the RockHopper Crew, Richard 'thanks-for-the-Diaries' Wilson, Saritha 'point-the-camera-in-that-direction' Wilkinson, and Luke 'Lights,-Camera,-Action' Winsbury. (Do ALL Rockhoppers HAVE to have a surname starting with 'W' to qualify ???). Another 21 crew and supernumaries also departed on flights back to the UK or to 'jollies' around South America.


Lat: 66�00' South Long: 065�21' West

Known as 'Graham Coast until June 1959

Prospect Point, Ferin Head, Graham coast.

Purpose: Survey and Geology.

Occupied: 2nd February 1957 - 23rd February 1959

Closed when local work completed.

Letter J was originally intended for a station on Alexander Island in the 1948/49 season which was never established.

Current Status: Closed (and now removed April 2004) !

 Shackleton at Station J Click on Image to Enlarge the Shackleton at Station J.

Another movement afoot was the arrival on the Thursday of the RRS James Clark Ross, who 'nosed ' in front of the Shackleton alongside the berth at FIPASS. The last time the two mighty vessels were alongside together was in November - also at FIPASS. It is an event that is becoming increasingly rare as the two vessels follow their respective itineraries, and although JCR will follow us to sea in the next day or so and equally head for the Humber Ports, she will have a program of science to do along the way which will preclude her from catching us up or overtaking us en route across the Atlantic. But it was good to see the James Clark Ross and gave crew-members the opportunity to 'catch up' with old colleagues, or more exactly , 'ex-shipmates'.

The two ships together were also able to put on a 'bash' to celebrate the retirement of our long-time agent in Stanley, Miss Myriam Booth, but more of that shortly.

Captain Gatti relinquished the reins of power onboard the Shackleton to Captain Graham Chapman who we were pleased to see return to the fold along with 3rd Engineer Rob 'I've-been-to-College' Mathieson, and new-joiner Mike Golding, as 3rd Officer. I am sure Sue and Jane will be featuring these heroes on the 'Crewman of the Week' spot in the forthcoming weeks.

And so with only 10 remaining members of the FID Fraternity onboard, and the regular 21 crew, it is a quiet 31-strong ship's complement that will have to take the ship North and eat their way through an expected barrage of trans-Atlantic BBQ's on the aft deck, and to wield the paint buckets on our annual paint-job going home !


Wavey Davey says :- 'Doctor, Doctor, I can't shake the feeling that I'm a dog !'.

'How long have you been feeling like this ?' asks the Doctor.

'Ever since I was a Puppy !!!'.


The Shackleton arrived in Stanley on the morning of Monday 19th April, after 3 very calm days of crossing the Drake Passage. Compared to the last crossing of the Drake Passage - what a difference. We had light winds, only partially cloudy skies, good sunsets and most of all - calm seas ! Upon arrival through the 'narrows' that take you into Stanley Harbour, we were allowed to go directly to the centre berth of FIPASS. Two other small vessels were parked fore and aft as we tied up. Immediately we began 2 days of off-loading our holds full of waste from Antarctica. We made good progress and by day 3 could commence with 'cleaning' the smelly holds after having had Penguin-guano-infested garbage permeating throughout. What you cannot appreciate as you are watching your David Attenborough Documentary featuring these beautiful and intriguing beasties is that they produce and equally un-beautiful and shocking aroma ! But wait until the advent of 'smelly-vision' !! We had evidence enough of how smelly penguins can be during the time our holds were full from the Base Clean-up Operation.

Day 4 and 5 saw the deck team loading, positioning and making fast the 20 containers that we must take back to the UK with us. The Research and Logistics Supply Vessel, the Shackleton, is fast-becoming a 'box boat' ! (*)

(*) Box Boat = Purpose-built vessel designed for the carriage of containers.


The RRS Ernest Shackleton has the capacity for 23 containers when fully loaded, but that does not take into consideration the 'Dozer', 'Snocats', 'Generators', 'Grader', 'Cherry Picker', 'Muskeg', 'Delta Foremost', and '2 ATV's' which we have also found places for onboard. (not to mention 3 bicycles somewhere onboard) !

Sno-cat Cargo Cargo

Click on any of these Images to Enlarge.

An assortment of various shapes and sizes of Cargo on the Helideck. I'll leave you to decide what is what ???

Cargo Cargo Cargo

Click on any of the Images


The Highlight of the week - apart from 'Sparkie Steve' being re-acquainted with Falkland Island Fresh Milk !, must be the little soiree that was arranged for Myriam's retirement. Myriam has served for 43 years as the BAS representative in the Falkland Islands and has been responsible for catering for the needs of the ships, planes and personnel that pass through on their way to Antarctica. Arranging accommodation, obtaining fresh milk, arranging flight connections and transfers, obtaining fresh milk, obtaining supplies locally, berthing arrangements for the ships, landing clearances for the planes, and more fresh milk ! This year she has handed over the baton to Pauline Sackett who likes her coffee black, and no sugar ! And with the two ships being in ports simultaneously, Captain Gatti took the opportunity to arrange a get-together for the ships companies and friends and colleagues from the Island. Catering Manager Micky Quinn and his team produced a great selection of nibbles to accompany the beers, wines, and softies on offer and despite the cramped venue of the Red Room, everybody had a wonderful time at the presentation. Both Captains Chapman (ES) and Burgan (JCR), along with Antonio gave speeches to highlight Myriams' remarkable contribution to the Survey over the years, and there was a presentation of flowers and gifts too. Ex-Rothera member John Taylor produced a rather special gift from the Shackleton contingent with a 'Whales Fluke' skilfully shaped out of brass on a polished bit of wood from the original Danco Hut from Antarctica. No dedication had been put onto the 'fishy' presentation pending a decision on a suitable inscription. Although she denies it implicitly, I am sure I detected a slight welling in the eyes of Myriam as she thanked the whole assembly for a rather nice 'send off'. Think on, Pauline. Only another 43 years, and you too can retire !!

Unfortunately everyone was so busy enjoying the moment, that I have seen no evidence of anyone wielding a camera to record the scene ! Come back, Luke Winsbury and the Rockhopper crew - all is forgiven !


In a shock announcement, Wavey-Davey also announced his intention to retire from his joke-telling career spanning several years and many many nautical miles on watch on the bridge.

Okay, so that's not EXACTLY true, but we were hoping it would be, and I am sure Wavey-Davey will be around for many more weeks to come with more inane ramblings and pointless paradies ! But we can always live in hope...

Birthdays this week: Ex-Rothera Chef Isabelle Gerrard had a birthday on the 20th this month, and I am sure suitably celebrated it ashore.

Forthcoming Events: It should be a quiet forthcoming week as we embark on a 4 week transit of the Atlantic.

References: Research Stations and Refuges of the British Antarctic Survey and its Predecessors (M.A. Martin/J. Rae) Edition 4, 2001

Diary 29 should be written on 02nd May for publication on 03rd May 2004. Sue and Jane should be in the 'hot seat' again by then.

Stevie B

ETO (Comms)