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30 Jan - Busy times at Bird Island

Date: Sunday 30 January 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 54°03'0 South, 038°05.5' West. Off Bird Island
Next destination: Remaining in vicinity of Bird Island throughout
ETA: Working at Bird Island for the immediate future
Distance to go: 0 nm
Total Distance sailed from UK: 14797.3 nmiles

Current weather: Overcast with wind and rain or drizzle
Sea State: Slight sea, low swell. Riding comfortably on DP at Jordan Cove
Wind: NW, 40 kts
Barometric pressure:1013.8 mmHg
Air temperature: 8.7°C
Sea temperature: 2.3°C

Ships postition Click on Image to see the Position of Shackleton.

The more astute of you may notice that this is exactly the same chart as was featured in last week’s webpage.  You are quite correct.  RRS Ernest Shackleton is in exactly the same place as we were last Sunday, so little need to update the position !  For the most up-to-date chart, visit sailwx.info

And Here Is The News....

But first the Weather...!

The week has been very changeable. We have been keeping a very close eye on the weather naturally, as we are very reliant on good calm conditions to effect the cargo transfer operations here at Bird Island. But good, calm conditions does not necessarily mean Caribbean blues skies and Equatorial calms seas. On the contrary, the guys working out on the decks and in the cargo tenders have had to endure everything from torrential rain to brilliant sunshine.  From blustery gales to dead calm, balmy days. If you think the Falklands are a place for ‘all seasons in one day’, then Bird Island must run a ‘close second’.

Starting out blustery, cold, raining, mist, and choppy, last Sunday was a bit of a ‘waiting on weather’ day.  But that did not last long as the ‘lurky little low’ that was responsible dissipated and so too did the bad weather.  By the following Saturday (29th) the weather was a complete ‘about turn’ leaving Bird Island looking like a favourite spot for Gilligan and his shipmates or Ben Gunn from the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.   Just one day later and we are having a Sunday surrounded by mist and fog and the decks are again awash with rain.  A thoroughly dull environment for working out on decks all day long.

Beautiful day Beautiful day
Not so beautiful day Not so beautiful day

Sunshine one minute (Saturday)...rain the next (Sunday). Click on any of the above images to enlarge the pictures.

But apart from the weather, the work is the thing that has occupied everyone this week. The emptying of the holds, and landing everything on the small beach at the Bird Island Base.  As Nigel, of Morrison’s exclaimed, Bird Island has been transformed from a sedate little research base in the Sub-Antarctic to a major Container Handling Facility to match Immingham !  (that might be a Slight Exaggeration). But the ‘temporary jetty’ has been put into place and the heavy vehicles can now get alongside the ’Tula’ and ‘Rockhopper’ in order to remove more vehicles, containers and boxes of all size and description.

Jetty at Bird Island Click to see the promontory from the beach at Bird Island.

It’s not quite as large as Biscoe Wharf at Rothera or the quay at King Edward Point, but it is allowing the work to progress, and I doubt if the Master will be trying to tie the Ernest Shackleton alongside this particular quayside.


Wavey Davey held a fancy dress party once. He invited all his friends. One of  them arrived wearing nothing special, but was giving a piggy-back to a lady-friend. ‘Hey, this is a fancy dress party, you’re supposed to come as something’ said Davey.

‘I did’, said his friend.  ‘I came as a Tortoise’…

‘A Tortoise ?’ said Davey, ‘ How do you figure that ?’.

‘This is Michelle’ !!!

Actually I think we ought to credit Wavey-Dewi for that one. I think it smacks of a Dewi Edwards joke, but as Sir Guilgud once said, ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’ !Well stolen, David.

Just like any busy cargo port in the world, Bird Island has it’s fair share of ‘loafers’ and ‘boat watchers’. Here we see a couple of likely candidates as Jimbo Baker  and friend pause for a minute on the Jetty to discuss the progress of operations, and whose turn it is to go for the bacon buttees ?

One Man and His PupOne Man and His Pup ! Click on the image to enlarge.

This picture of  Jim the A/B was snapped with a puppy by his feet. Unfortunately, we missed the photograph of Jim trying to train the pup to ‘fetch a stick’, ‘fetch the newspaper’ or ‘bring him his slippers’ !???  However, ‘roll over and play dead’ was an easy feat for this particular pup !  That’s what most of the Bird Island ‘furries’ do all day anyway !.

But back to the work, the statistics stolen from the Master’s daily POSREP * (Position report) are as follows :-

Monday 24th January 2005, 1900Z
10 Cargo tenders loads discharged today.

Tuesday 25th January 2005, 2000Z
10 Cargo tenders loads discharged today.

Wednesday 26th January 2005, 2000Z
7 Cargo tender loads discharged today.

Thursday 27th January 2005, 2000Z
12 Cargo tender loads discharged today.

Friday 28th January 2005, 2000Z
16 Cargo tender loads discharged today.

Saturday 29th January 2005, 2000Z
11 Cargo tender loads discharged today.

As can be seen, that’s 66 tender loads to the beach in a week, not to mention what has gone ashore this very morning. It is surprising that for such a notorious climate as Bird Island’s the weather has been so far very kind to us. Considering that the Shackleton usually arrives for a Bird Island relief and oftentimes finds the conditions ‘unworkable’, we have managed to do good work every day. That is not to say that the work is easy, with rocking tenders and swinging loads on the end of the crane hook, all possible precautions must forever be observed to ensure a safe and trouble-free relief operation.


And finally, here is a picture to show the Shackleton Fleet side by side.  As introduced last week, we can clearly see the size of all three vessels. Click on image to enlarge.

From left to right : the ‘Tula’, the ‘Rockhopper’, and the biggest cargo tender of them all,  the ‘Shackleton’ !

As promised, I managed to track down Zoe and Stacy from their studies and work onboard the vessel and extract by force and bribery, a brief resume from each of them. Zoe Bromage and Stacy Land joined us in the Falklands and will remain to help us with the Bird Island relief before going onwards to join us for the final Halley-run of the season. It really is a feather in the cap of the cadets to - not only get to work on the fantastic ‘Shackleton’ - but what a great place to get to visit during their training.  Not to mention getting their hands on the very latest fashions from the catwalks of  Antarctica !!? Yes, each of them look true Antarctic Heros when decked from head to toe in Heavy-weather gear which has been provided for the duration.

Cadets Zoe and Stacy

Here we see Zoe and Stacy in Clashing Red with matching ‘Shackleton Research Vessel’ accessory. The chapeaux are available in any colour, but the orange sported here are strictly chosen for the slimming look, warming colour and colour-coordination with the Jalette workboots !


erm....well not sure what you want so I will just write loads of stuff and you just pick out what you want....

I live in Sunny Scarborough by the Sea

I go to college in South Tyneside to carry out my cadetship which is a HND in nautical Science. I would like to continue after qualifying this year to do a Bsc(Hons) in Marine Operations so that hopefully I can get a good job in the marine industry on the shore based side.

I have a GCSE in nautical science so that’s what sparked me off to come to sea after I found out that I had a particular talent for the nautical stuff, as well as wanting to travel the world !

I have also an A-level in geology amongst others and am very interested in earth science and would like to follow that up at a later date.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton is my 4th ship in my 11 and a half months of sea time and in that time I have traveled a great deal of the world visiting 6 of the seven continents.

When at college me and Stacy share a flat together.

I have a fear of aeroplanes, cars, yachts, fast rescue crafts......anything that moves about really scary when going fast.

my previous ships have been : a refer container, an oil product carrier and an LPG carrying NH3 (ammonia)

dunno what else to say....gotta go learn nav rule 30 so bye bye


Zoe Click on image to see a piccie of Zoe.  (She’s the one on the right !!)

In conference with Stacy, I discovered the following information.  Stacy is 21 years old, and lives in North Yorkshire.  ‘Where in North Yorkshire’ ? I enquired… Oh, a little place near Driffield that you will not have heard of’.. quoth she.  ‘What ? Near Sledmere ?’ I asked ! ‘Really’, said Stacy, ‘I live only about 2 miles away from there’ !!  ‘Ahhh, my brother lives at Sledmere’ I informed her. What a small world !  Practically neighbours !  It never fails to amaze me how small the world is becoming. How often have I heard such circumstances like when our very own Dave Rees (A/b) traveled with Craig Pace from the opposite crew, and they bumped into ex-Shackleton 2nd Engineer Rick Coe out in New Zealand, of all places ! A small world indeed.

And talking of New Zealand, Stacy has traveled 5 of the 7 continents in her Cadetship, and admits that the most brilliant Port of Call she has made was to New Zealand.  Auckland in-particular.

Stacy started her Cadetship at South Shields Maritime College on Tyneside and is sponsored by Trinity House – a wonderful company.  (She had to say that in case they are reading these pages !).  Her sea-going training has seen her placed onboard 6 different vessels, of which the RRS Ernest Shackleton is her 6th. Previously, she has served on 2 oil tankers, a buoy tender, a sailing ship, a cargo vessel and now a Research Ship, which she is enjoying very much.  ‘I’ve never seen so many seals and penguins in my life’ admits Stacy.  Not surprising really – when you think how many actually populate South Shields alternatively ???

Stacy – like Zoe – is due to finish her Cadetship in November this year (2005).

Stacy Click to see a piccie of Stacy at King Edward Point, South Georgia.

Next week we will see if we can track down the James Clark Ross contingent who are stowaways here on the Shackleton.  A/B’s Derek Jenkins and Mark ‘Bins’ Blaby are currently found in the Cargo Tenders running between base and ship.


Yes, it was the turn of Ben the Dentist to administer good advice to himself and prepare to floss !!

For this week saw the natal day of Ben Molyneux who may feel like he has been onboard the Ernest Shackleton for 30 years, but more precisely has been on this world for the big 3 – 0 !  Congratulations and A Very Happy Bird Island to you Ben !!  

Indeed, where else do you get to spend your 30th Birthday other than Bird Island when you are an Antarctic Dentist in the midst of the Bird Island Base Rebuild Project ? But apart from celebrating by lifting yet more cargo from the hold into the cargo tenders,… there was also an opportunity to get his teeth into something a little more substantial in the mess that evening.  So on Wednesday evening as he sat down to what was expected to be his normal evening meal at 20.00 hours, Ben was presented with a ship-made Birthday Cake - courtesy of the Catering Crew,  and a rather fine present – courtesy of an un-named member of the team (Thank you Dr. Frank ) !!

Bens cake Click on the Molar to enlarge the calories !!!

The cake was typically, Dentally-orientated.  A rather fine specimen which tasted even better than it looked. Then it was a quick brush of the teeth and back to the present opening !!!

Click to see the grand opening.

Here we see Ben cradling his new acquisition.  Dr. Frank and his little helpers had cobbled together a rather splendid plaque depicting a silhouette of the RRS Ernest Shackleton complete with dedicated name-plate, on a highly polished bit of dark wood !  ‘That’s going to adorn the wall of my practice for many years to come’ quote Ben. 

Here we can see the details of Ben’s present and evidence that he brushed his teeth after the cake !!!

Another quick brush of the teeth and then we all retired for a quiet celebratory drink in the Red Room.  All very convivial. It was not an elongated affair since everyone had done a full day’s work on the cargo and needed to be up early in the morning to continue, but meanwhile it was nice to relax and have a drink with the Birthday boy.  The sad part is that next Birthday, Ben may no longer be with the Shackleton. By his own admission, 2 years out of the Dental Practices of the ‘real world’ may be all he can afford, although he would love to come back another year.  Many happy returns for your 30th Ben, and may your 31st be as good wherever you may be spending it ?!

Birthdays this Week : David Rees the A/B and Ben Molyneux the Dentist.

Forthcoming Events: Continue with Bird Island Base Rebuild cargo operations.

Contributors this week:  Thanks to Stacy and Zoe, our Cadets for their time and summary of a Cadet’s life so far !  Also thanks to the Master for letting me purloin the figures from his Posreps this week. Plus all the budding photographers, Frank, Stacy, Mark, and myself. 

Diary 10 should be written on Sunday 07th February and published on the Monday 08th January 2005.

Stevie B
Comms Officer.