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09 May - King Neptune and Co

Date: Sunday 09 May 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT -3): 05°11' North 032°22' West.
Next destination: The Humber Ports
ETA: Sunday 23 May 2004
Distance to go: 3604 nmiles
Distance sailed from Stanley: 3665 nmiles
Total distance sailed: 29510 nmiles

Current weather: Overcast, occasional light rain showers
Sea State: Moderate seas and swell
Wind: NNE, Force 5/6
Barometric pressure:1012.8 mmHg
Air temperature: 27.4°C
Sea temperature: 27.8°C

Click to see position map - although both ourselves and the JCR have sailed off the edge!

This Week on ES

The week got off to a fine start with a gorgeous sunset and an evening barbecue on Sunday 2nd May.

A fine sunset A spectacular sunset - click to see image

Rob, Bob and Job...bo Watching the sunset - click to see image

Issy had prepared a feast of food for the barbecue, and some of the rest of us had made a refreshing fruit and vodka punch. The lads (of course!) lit the barbecue in plenty of time, and Matt Jobson assumed his well-practiced role as the man with the tongs.

Jobbo with his tools Jobbo minding the barbecue - click to see image

A bird's eye view... The barbecue seen from above - click to see image

Sunday was also "Slim" Jim's birthday, and Issy had created a 'Mr Blobby' cake. Jim, no longer 'Mr Blobby' himself, relaxed his "soup and salad" diet for the night in order to sample the cake. He was also fired on with a multitude of party poppers but luckily managed to survive the onslaught.

Jim - no longer Mr Blobby! Jim and Mr Blobby - click to see image

Life Afloat

Now we're sailing through the tropics, a lot of time is spent watching the world go by and soaking up the sunshine out on deck. On Thursday we passed within sight of Recife on the Brazilian coast - far off in the distance we could see hundreds and hundreds of tall buildings. They seemed to go on for ever - it's hard to believe there are so many skyscrapers in one place! A far cry from the small Antarctic communities we've been used to for the past 18 months.

Recife from afar - lots of skyscrapers!
First sight of land for a while: the skyscrapers of Recife - click to see image

It's not all inactivity and sunbathing - aside from our gash (cleaning and rubbish removal) duties some of us have been busy: Issy in the galley, Jobbo and Chrissy in the workshops, Andy sorting out everyone's computing problems, Ed and Jane doing navigation work and "Pirate Watch" during the early hours while we have been sailing close to the coast, Lucy in the aquarium, Jane and I in the surgery doing routine medical exams on the ship's crew, and Eric and Rob (and others) helping Mick, Bellies and Charlie with odd jobs.

Richie the Chief Cook has been running gruelling but well attended circuits every evening, and Jane has started daily yoga sessions after lunch on the Monkey Island (when it's not too bumpy). Our favourite yoga position: The Corpse (lying down!); and our least favourite: probably The Surfer (especially when the ship is moving lots!).

Rob almost in the corpse position... Rob Shortman basking in the sun on the Monkey Island - click to see image

Security Drills

As a consequence of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks on September 11 2001, all ships now have to comply with new regulations regarding their security arrangements. This week we have had two security-based emergency drills. At the beginning of the week we had a piracy drill where we were all barricaded either on the bridge or in the Yellow Room as (for the exercise) a suspicious boat was seen approaching then boarding the ship. Then on Saturday the 2nd Officer Alan (who is also Ship Security Officer) organised a search for suspicious packages. We were all divided into teams of four and sent into a section of the ship to perform a search. "Bombs" (pieces of card with "this is a bomb" printed on them!) were hidden in each section and all the teams managed to find them in good time using the recommended search technique. Despite the quick identification of these suspect packages, we suggested to Alan that they might be found even quicker if the "bombs" contained food items!

King Neptune's Court convenes...

We crossed the equator at 07:10 on Saturday. Seven of us FIDs (Issy, Matt, Jane, Ed, Eric, Rob and me) and two of the crew (A/B Martin Rowe and 4th Engineer John Cossey) had never crossed the line, so at 14:00 King Neptune's Court was convened on the aft deck.

King Neptune Queen Nefertiti The Judge "The charges, m'lud" "A spoonful of sugar..." "Smile, please!" View through a lens

Above: the cast - King Neptune (ETO Elect Bob Roullier), Queen Nefertiti (A/B Michaela Brown), The Judge, aka Rumpled of the Bailey (2nd Cook Rob Shields), The Prosecutor (FID Andy Barker), The Doctor (A/B "Wavey" Davey Taylor), The Paparazzi (ETO Comms Steve Stiglig-Buxton), the view through the camera lens showing drenched FIDs and crew who have just paid homage to King Neptune. Click on images to see them.

Having learnt from the humiliation of the southbound FIDs that barricading ourselves on the Monkey Island was doomed to failure, we reverted to the tried and tested method of "everyone for himself"and all hid from Neptune's constables. Of course it was to no avail, as one by one we were all found and made to submit to the Court. All except for me, that is - I surrendered to the Court after the police force spent so much time looking for me that I was getting bored. 3rd Officer Mike Golding paid dearly for his slack search technique by being made to pay homage to King Neptune despite having already previously crossed the line... sorry, Mike!

After the charges had been read to the Court by the Prosecutor, the Judge pronounced his verdict (guilty in all cases) and we were forced to kiss the kipper, take our medicine, have a haircut and get covered in slops. Not the most pleasant way to spend the afternoon, but a good spectator sport! Issy's curly hair showed a strange affinity for the solid bits from the slops and it took all of us quite a while under the shower to remove all traces of the smell!

Yuk Issy endures the horror of the slops bucket -click to see image

Guilty as charged Last to be found: Sue hears the charges - click to see image

As Bob is due to retire soon, this will be his last time across the line. It was therefore fitting that King Neptune should be made to pay homage to himself... and after a breathtaking NINE charges were read out, he was duly found guilty as charged and the kipper, syringe, clippers and slops beckoned.

Last time across the line Last time across the line: King Neptune pays homage to himself - click to see image

After the Court had adjourned and the deck had been hosed, we had another barbecue on the aft deck. Rob Mathieson (3rd Engineer) had had his birthday on Wednesday so there was another cake to sample - this time the cake honoured Rob's ethnic origin (he's from Hartlepool) and had the theme of a monkey on the gallows. Except that we didn't have a monkey so it was a turtle on the gallows...

Happy Birthday Monkeyhanger! Rob with his birthday cake - click to see image

Wavey Davey's Wit Spot

WD says:

I had an appointment with Doctor Jane and told her I had Athlete's Foot. She told me to put on a clean pair of socks every day. I went back after a week and told her I couldn't get my shoes on...

She then told me to walk 10 miles a day. A week later I phoned her from Coventry...

Crewman of the Week

This week we feature King Neptune himself, otherwise known as Bob Roullier, our ETO (Elect) - ship's electrician, for the uninitiated.

Bob Roullier Bob Roullier - click to see image

Bob is 52 and from Leicestershire. He has spent 29 years at sea, the last 6 and a half of them on the Bransfield and the Ernest Shackleton, and is due to retire on arrival in the UK later this month. Bob says hello to Margaret, who is an avid reader of these web diaries.

Charge Number 7 of the nine charges read out against Bob at King Neptune's Court was that "The Accused is the Inventor of the SI Unit of Negativity".

He quotes retirement as being "When you stop living at work and start working at living". All of us wish him well for his retirement and the future.

Birthdays this week: A/B Jim Baker, 37 on 2nd May, and 3rd Engineer Rob Mathieson, 24 on 5th May.

Forthcoming Events: Continuing north through the Tropic of Cancer

Contributors this week: Sunbathing photo and all crossing the line photos (bar the one of Sue) by Steve B, all other photos by Sue

Diary 33 should be available soon

Bye for now, Sue D.