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28 Nov - The Shack is Back!

Date: Sunday 28 November 2004
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT-4): Alongside Jetty, Mare Harbour, East Cove, Falkland Islands
Next destination: Signy, SOUTH ORKNEY ISLANDS
ETA: 0600 Thursday 02 December
Distance to go: 695.7 nm
Total Distance sailed from UK: 7350.3 nmiles

Current weather: Overcast, fine and clear
Sea State: Choppy alongside
Wind: NW Force 7
Barometric pressure:1008.0 mmHg
Air temperature: 09.2°C
Sea temperature: 10.2°C


‘Sorry Chaps, I didn’t finish the previous week’s webpage on time !’


The previous week saw the departure of the Capt. John Marshall crew in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the arrival of Capt Graham Chapman’s crew. Hence, we are starting the webpage from ‘scratch’ as it were. The new crew flew to Montevideo from Heathrow Airport via Sao Paulo, Brazil, leaving the UK on Tuesday. By noon on Wednesday (17th), the ‘flight from hell’ was all over and the new crew were happily ensconced in the NH Hotel in downtown Montevideo. Meanwhile, the Shackleton was completing her 6350 nmile journey from Immingham to Uruguay and docked at breakfast on Thursday. Thursday lunch saw the transfer of the new crew to the vessel and the handover started in earnest. By Thursday evening, the majority of Capt Marshall’s crew were happily ‘on leave’ and enjoying their first night ashore at the hotel and they were joined the following day by the rest of their colleagues. Notable exceptions include 2nd Officer Noel who stayed on to cover for Navs Newman who joins us in the Falklands. Chief Cook Keith is also covering for his back-to-back who doesn’t join until the Falklands and ETO Comms Javed is taking the opportunity to get some extra training in with myself, Stevie B, on the 4 day journey to Mare Harbour.

22 crew in total sailed from Montevideo on Saturday afternoon along with a complement of 25 FIDS, most of whom joined with us in Monte. A total of 57 persons onboard for this next leg of our Antarctic Season.

Coming close to the time for fairy tales and flights of fancy, let me introduce you to ‘Snowbound and the Seven FIDs’,


Once upon a time, there was a dream whose name was ‘Snow-bound’.  And one day Snowbound started from the Kingdom of  Immingham for a land far far away.  She was joined on the way South by a company of 7 FIDs and their names were SLEEPY (all of them), BASHFUL (not a one of them), GRUMPY (mostly on mornings when they need to do ‘Gash’), HAPPY (occasionally),  SNEEZY (when the new-joining-crew manage to spread a virulent strain of cold and flu fresh from the UK ?), DOPEY, (???), and of course DOC { well truly, at least One of them is a qualified physician !}.


The 7 original FIDS who sailed all the way to Montevideo from the UK were Petra Schmidt, Ben Molyneaux, Matt Butters, Agnieszka Frykowska, Gary Masters, Daniel Stromanis and Frances Williams. They found themselves onboard the wicked Ernest Shackleton who claims to be the ‘fairest of them all’ but in truth can be pretty awful when at sea.  Apparently, the wicked ship was not kind to Snow Bound and the 7 Fids travelling south, as they had a terrible time through the Bay of Biscay, but post-Montevideo, the ship behaved perfectly and the voyage to Mare Harbour was pleasant and reasonably smooth.

With the prospect of our onward journey to Signy, South Georgia and Halley, we are hoping they will be able to live ‘happily ever after’ with continued good weather and an uneventful voyage.


Or more precisely, Wavey-Frances’ Wit Spot. Wavey-Davey told me that he went home last leave and found the place nice and clean and everything in it’s right place and the dog was pleased to see him and the garden was immaculate too ! He then realised, he was in the wrong house !!

With that standard of joke, we turned to Fidlett Frances who came up with the following offering instead :

‘How does a smelly old cheese climb down some ricketty old stairs ???’

‘Caerphilly..’ ! 

Thank you Frances.  A better class of joke.


(FID = Falkland Island Dependant !)

Things are looking up on the Shackleton this week. As I made my way down to the Galley at about 06.00 in the morning this Wednesday, I was surprised to be accosted by the sight of the staff on duty for the day.  For it was the turn of Liz Harris, Hoc Baldock and Miriam Iorwerth to do their ‘bit’ for the catering department.  Nothing unusual in the sight of seeing FID’s up so early in the morning. Indeed, if there is any possibility of a ‘Jolly’ ashore, a sighting of marine life or a first Iceberg, FID’s can usually be prised from their beds at any hour of the night or day. And on a rota system, each FID onboard takes a turn to help out with general cleaning, pot-washing, and vegetable peeling, something which will stand them in good stead for the time on base where everyman (and woman) is expected to contribute.

But today, I was pleasantly surprised to be confronted by a team of impeccably attired waitresses ready to do a breakfast stint.

Gash Girl
Gash Girl Gash Girl Gash Girl

Hoc, Liz and Miriam all dressed up and someplace to go.

Click on the top image to see the Team in the Greenroom (Complete with Gash-sacks).

Which bed had contributed it’s ‘bottom sheet’ in order to provide material for the ‘pinnies’,  I cannot say.  It brings to mind images of Maria from the Sound Of Music attiring the kids in the very best draperies from the windows.   But attired they were, and caused many comments of appreciation from their friends and peers.  Standards on the Ernest Shackleton are definitely on the up and up.


My opposite number on the ship is now Mr Javed Ansari, of South Shields and unfortunately, with the wealth of things he had to undertake by joining a new ship, Javed was unable to make the weekly offerings on the webpage to properly introduce himself. 

Javed was recruited by the British Antarctic Survey at a moment’s notice and had to join the vessel in Hull within only days of a successful interview. Consequently, Javed had little time to pack, let alone put his affairs in order.  So having stayed onboard for an additional week to travel from Montevideo to Mare Harbour, I think Javed was truly happy to be returning home to the UK and his family after such a hasty departure.

The Comms Guys

Click on the Image to Enlarge the Comms Officers. 

(But not TOO large please.  We are eating enough biscuits between us to adequately ‘enlarge’ ourselves whilst onboard).

Javed, an avid lover of cricket, heads home to his wife and family in South Shields and has enjoyed – although a very busy – first season, getting to grips with all the systems that fall into the radio communications department. We wish Javed a good leave.

And finally …

We look forward to reporting lots of adventures as we set sail for Signy and the start of the Shackleton’s time in Antarctica, but meanwhile leave you with some words of wisdom :-

There was once a pigmy King called Boko who lived in the pampas grasslands of Africa near the coast of  Mozambique. King Boko was the head of a tribe called the Illawee.  Being pygmies, the tribe were often heard hunting in the 12 foot grasses around their home, shouting ‘We’re the Illawee !!’.

Now King Boko had two prized possessions. One was an anchor rescued from a wreck from the nearby coast.  The Anchor was said to have magical ‘healing’ properties and whenever Boko had a cold, he would be advised to ‘Use your anchor, chief’. The other possession was a gold commode rescued from the self -same wreck and was a particularly beautiful sample of Victorian plumbing at it’s best.  Although having no magical properties, the commode was used as his royal throne and was highly regarded by tribes far and wide, both friendly and hostile.  One particular tribe, the Millawee, was very hostile and would make regular attacks by the full moon every month in an attempt to steal Boko’s throne. Usually, the Illawee would repel all invaders, being good warriors and particularly vicious cannibals. But just to be sure, Boko would always hide his throne before going to war to defend his village against invasion.

One month, the alarm was given that the Millawee were attacking. Boko, was finishing a dinner of his favourite dish.  It comprised of cooked python and meat of one of his enemies (they were cannibals), all wrapped up in a short pastry crust.  Having finished his snake and pygmy pie and in his usual manner, he hid his prized anchor and throne in the loft of his grass hut. He then grabbed his shield and spear, and ran out to join his warriors.  The outcome was predictable, and the Millawee were once again repelled and prisoners taken, for dinner.

However, upon entering his grass palace, Boko slammed the door too hard and the resulting ‘shudder’ dislodged the throne from above and it came crashing down through the ceiling, right on top of King Boko – killing him dead ! The tribe mourned his loss for a very long time.

The moral of this tale is :

‘People who live in Grass Houses, shouldn’t stow Thrones !!!’

Birthdays this week:  Our Agent in the BAS Office Stanley.  Pauline Sackett was 21 again this year. Happy Birthday Pauline.

Forthcoming Events: Complete bunkering operations and depart Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands for Signy. We have cargo and personnel movements to complete in Signy and then onward to South Georgia and to Halley for Christmas.

Contributors this week:  Acknowledgements to the unknown photographer for the FID photographs.

Diary 2 should be written on Sunday 05th and published on the Monday 06th, operations permitting.

Stevie B
Comms Officer.