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24 Apr - The North

Date: Sunday 24 April 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 07°37' North, 27°38.0' West
Next destination: Humberside, UK
ETA: 0400 Sunday 08 May 2005
Distance to go: 3277.0 nmiles
Total Distance sailed from UK: 24126.0 nmiles

Current weather: Cloudy, fine and clear
Wind: NE, Force 3
Sea state: Slight Barometric pressure:1009.2 mmHg
Air temperature: 27.2°C
Sea temperature: 26.4°C

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

This week on the 'Shack.... King Neptune himself welcomes us back to the North! It's been another warm week here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We are half way back to the UK now, and are currently out in the Middle of the Atlantic Ocean. We left the Coast of Brazil on Wednesday and started heading out into the Ocean, passing the small Island of Fernando de Noronha Thursday afternoon. As we passed close by to this small tropical island, we saw lots of sea birds that starting following the ship. These Frigate Birds kept the attention of most of us onboard, watching them dive into the water to catch fish. The Island used to serve as a Brazilian Penal Colony, but is now quite a well known tourist island, where we saw lots of Yachts in it's small Harbour.

Frigate birds, following the ship with the Island of Fernando de Noronha behind. Graeme Gillie Frigate birds above the ship.  Graeme Gillie

As well as the usual Painting and working for the crew in the morning, once a week we have an Emergency drill. On Friday morning, as part of the weeks drill, Paul the 3rd Officer and Dave the Catering Officer took us FIDs down the the Aft deck for some Fire training. Most of us had done some form of Fire training at Cambridge before coming South and on Base, but it was time for a refresher. We fired off a few dry powder and foam fire extinguishers, before being shown how to connect up and use the main fire hoses onboard. We each took our turn to use the hoses, which none of us had ever used before, and briefed on how to fight fires at sea. We were told that it is imperative that you don't use too much water on a ship, and end up filling a metal shell with lots of water, as you could end up getting wetter than you had bargained for!

Rob and Scotty using the Fire Hoses.  A.Thornhill Fin and Ed using the fire hoses. A.Thornhill.

As we traveled North, the Equator loomed upon us and soon passed us by. As we were not having the Official Ceremony of meeting King Neptune until the Saturday afternoon, the Fids decided to celebrate the occasion as we crossed with some Champagne up on the Heli deck. Unfortunately the Sun never showed itself, and as soon as we passed the line, the clouds opened up and it poured with rain for the rest of the afternoon. Welcome back to the North! This did not deter us however, and we enjoyed the afternoon in the tropical rain.

Fids enjoying Champagne as we cross the Equator.  Fin O'Sullivan GPS Position as we cross the Equator.  Fin O'Sullivan Rob, John, Graeme and Graeme enjoying  a few drinks.  Fin O'Sullivan

Saturday arrived and the crew set up the Aft Deck in the morning ready for the Celebrations of that afternoon. The celebrations were followed by another fantastic BBQ in the tropical heat of the evening. If you would like to read about the Crossing of the Line Ceremony and meeting King Neptune Click Here.

Well we all survived the crossing of the Equator and are now well on our way to our next sight of land, which will be the Cape Verde Islands. We are expected to reach them sometime in the morning of Tuesday the 26th. After that we sail up to the Canary Islands, then across the bay of Biscay before reaching the British Channel and home. Another 2 weeks today and we will be safely moored up in the UK. Until my last diary entry on board the RRS Ernest Shackleton next Sunday, our best regards to everyone at home. Adam.

PS. Can I make my sincere apologies to the Chefs onboard. Last week I mentioned that all the crew get Saturdays as a half day, where of course most of the crew, including our esteemed Chefs work hard throughout, 7 days a week. Sorry to the crew and most of all Ash for making this statement and putting your 3 days in bed when you first return home at jeopardy. A crate of beer is on it's way.