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19 Mar - Crew change

Date: Saturday 19 March 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 60°56'2 South, 061°17.0' West. Approaching the South Sandwich Islands
Next destination: Port Lockroy (AKA Base A)
ETA: Sunday 20th March 2005 : Midday
Distance to go: 266.0 nmiles
Total Distance sailed from UK: 18704.0 nmiles

Current weather: Overcast, foggy.
Sea State: Moderate sea and swell.
Wind: N, Force 3
Barometric pressure:1003.1 mmHg
Air temperature: 2.6°C
Sea temperature: 1.0°C

For the most up-to-date chart of the ships position, visit sailwx.info

BI to FI

Steve’s last diary entry left us at Bird Island, South Georgia preparing for the trip North to the Falkland Islands. The passage north is a long four days at sea and saw the Shackleton brave some strong winds and heavy seas before landing safely in Mare Harbour.

Spray on the bow Spray on the Bow

Thanks to some last minute passengers collected at South Georgia the ship was full to capacity, with every bunk occupied. When the ship is this full space can be limited and it’s a testament to the good nature of the crew and base staff that spirits remained high as we ploughed on through the open ocean.

A crew change

For Graham Chapman’s crew and the Halley summer staff this would be the last leg of a long and eventful season in Antarctica. Awaiting the ship’s arrival in Mare harbour Captain John Marshall and his team were ready and eager to take the reigns from the out-going crew as they head home for some well earned leave. For the Halley winter staff arrival in the Falklands spells the end of an adventure and the return to the world at large. For some of the winter staff it has been over two years since they last saw trees, smelled grass or spoke to a stranger. So all in all this Falklands arrival was an exciting time for many of the people on board.

Flying home

Soon after arrival the majority of the ships passengers were whisked off to the airport and were soon winging their way back to the UK, either via Ascension Island or via South America. The in-coming ships crew arrived from Stanley to take up their positions and complete handovers with their opposite numbers. After off-loading the Bird Island waste at Mare harbour the ship sailed around to Stanley, in the unusual position of having two crews aboard.

Sister ships

As FIPASS (Stanley’s floating Jetty) was short of space we pulled in alongside the JCR and tied up, bow to stern with the sister ship. The local taxi firms were doing a roaring trade as Stanley was bursting at the seems on Monday night with both Shackleton crews and the JCR crew making the most of being in close range of the Stanley pubs before heading South again.

Stanley Church Stanley Church

Final preparations

On Tuesday the JCR headed out to sea leaving the Shackleton space to complete the loading of Cargo and fresh stored, ready for the new crew to steer us down the Antarctic peninsula to Rothera base for the final call of the season.


At seven o’clock in the morning on Thursday a bus arrived to take the homeward bound crew to the airport. There was no shortage of smiles as the bus pulled away from the ship. Waving their last farewells the new crew knuckled down and by eight o’clock we were ready for departure and the Shackleton set a course for Antarctica once again.

Who’s on Board?

As well as the ship’s crew the hardy perennials are still here, the doctor Frank Swinton and the ever present dentist, Ben Molyneux.

Also making a guest appearance is Kirk Watson, a field GA from Rothera. Kirk flew north from Rothera for some treatment from the dentist and will now sail back to his home base with the Shackleton. Fortunately for him his taxi ride home will take him to Port Lockroy and Vernadski, he is prepared to meet some jealous fellow base members on arrival at Rothera.

Another passenger is Alex who works for the German Antarctic programme. Alex works for the German aerospace centre and will be overseeing the transfer of one of their damaged aeroplanes (a Dornier 228) from the Rothera quay to the Polarstern for transport back to South America and beyond for repairs.

The Winterers are off to Saunders Island

As the ship sails south and most of the FIDs fly home there is a small band of merry winterers who are left in the middle. Graham Gillie, Graham Barton, Stuart Cowley and Russ Locke have all just wintered at Halley and will be sailing back to the UK on the ship. While we are at Rothera they will entertain themselves in the Falklands until the ship is ready to head north in April. As the ship pulled away from Stanley they were flying off to Saunders Island for a week or two on this lonely but beautiful spot in the western Isles of the Falklands. They plan to help out on the farm as well as take in the sights of Saunders Island. They have an incredible coastline with an unrivalled abundance of wildlife awaiting them. Saunders is home to a large black brow albatross colony as well as numerous colonies of Rock Hopper, Gentoo and King penguins. It is also the sight of the first settlement on the Falklands. They should have a very happy two weeks.

Saunders Black Brow Albatross Saunders Black Brow Albatross

A flying visit

On departure from the Falklands our first emergency drill was interrupted by the arrival of a RAF sea rescue helicopter out on manoeuvres. As we sailed on the pilot deftly hovered over the helideck and two brave passangers were winched down onto the ship. After a rapid tour of the bridge they were off again and flying back to the Falklands. It was quite a sight and some impressive flying as the blades of the helicopter pounded the air meters from the V sat dome.

RAF Helicopter drill RAF Helicopter drill

Whats Next?

Our next stop on the way to Rothera will be Port Lockroy. We look forward to collecting the three Antarctic heroes, Pete Milner, Sue Dowling and Matt Jobson and dropping them off at Vernadski (formerly Faraday) base. From Vernadski it is on to Rothera final call.

Ben Molyneux

Also ……many thanks to Steve for his efforts with the web page over the past 4 months.