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26 Mar - Last call Rothera

Date: Saturday 26 March 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 67°34' South, 068°07.0' West. Alongside at Rothera
Next destination: Stanley, Falkland Islands
ETA: Monday 04 April 2005
Distance to go: 1258.0 nmiles
Total Distance sailed from UK: 19281.0 nmiles

Current weather: Cloudy with sunny spells
Wind: NNE, Force 5
Barometric pressure:979.5 mmHg
Air temperature: -3.4°C
Sea temperature: -1.2°C

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

It's been a great week on ES. We had a lovely crossing of Drake's Passage with no bad weather at all. This came as a relief to everyone because it's a stretch of water with quite a reputation and the Shackleton has had it's fair share of rough seas this year. Here's a photo of Ben the dentist and myself enjoying the sundown as we cross the roughest stretch of water on earth.

Frank and Ben enjoy good weather in Drake's Passage

After four days at sea, we arrived at the Neumayer Channel and Port Lockroy. Here we had to pick up the three BAS personnel who've been showing tourists around the historic site for the last four months. Pete Milner, Mat Jobson and Sue Dowling were very pleased to get onboard and have a shower and a thaw out. They'd been living in a hut with no heating all summer!

It wasn't all bad though, as the photo below shows, Port Lockroy isn't such a bad place. Click for a larger image.

Port Lockroy

After helping to pack up Port Lockroy we steamed round the corner to Damoy where there are old British and Argentinian huts next to one another. We'd had a report from a yacht that there was a leaking drum of fuel there so we took a couple of the small boats ashore and brought out several drums that were in poor repair.

The next day we waited all morning for the weather to clear before we headed down the famous Lemaire Channel. Unfortunately the elements weren't really playing the game and as we passed through the narrow waterway we couldn't see the tops of the mountains that rise thousands of feet on either side.

We then stopped at the Ukranian base Akademik Vernadsky. This base used to be the British Faraday station but is now run by our Eastern European counterparts. They gave us a very warm welcome and were clearly happy to entertain us late into the night but unfortunately we had to keep moving. We put Pete, Jobbo and Sue ashore where they're spending just over a week maintaining Wordie House. This is another historic BAS site which is on a separate island from Vernadsky but only about 300 m away. On the way out to the ship some of us were lucky enough to get the chance to look around. Click on the thumbnails for a better look at Wordie House.

Wordie House Wordie House

After all this excitement, it was clearly time to get back to sea so we headed off into the wild blue yonder for twenty-four hours and rounded Adelaide Island to arrive at Rothera. We are to be the last ship arriving at Rothera this season so it's an important call for lots of reasons; we had all the food for the winter onboard, we had to pick up the waste that's been produced during the summer; we had to return Kirk to the base so he can enjoy his winter and we had to help Alex the German air mechanic organise the movement of the Dornier aeroplane from the dock at Rothera onto the German icebreaker Polarstern. Thankfully, since we got here the weather's been good to us and we've managed to accomplish all our jobs without delay. Here's a picture of the ships nose to nose.

Polarstern and Shackleton

Today is a bit of a rest day and time to get all the last minute jobs done on base before we leave in the morning headed for Vernadsky to pick up the Wordie House restoration brigade and Detaille en route to Stanley. But that's all another story that will only be available after next week's webpage is published.

This week's web author is Dr Frank. All photos are his except the one of the two ships, that one is from one of the crew of Polarstern. Frank's going home from Stanley so there'll be someone new in the next couple of weeks.