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23 Oct - Welcome to Portland!

Date: Sunday 23 October 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT+1): 50°34' North 002°25' West. Alongside, Portland Harbour.
Next destination: Montevideo, Uruguay.
ETA: Monday 21st November 2005
Distance to go: 6000 nmiles.
Distance sailed from UK : 58nmiles since Portsmouth.
Total distance sailed: 58nmiles

Current weather: Overcast with Showers. Occasional patches of Blue Sky
Wind: 15 knots at 240°
Sea state: Calm alongside
Barometric pressure: 1011.8 mmHg
Air temperature: 14.6°C
Sea temperature: 15.1°C

Shackleton's Position Click to see view of the Shackleton in today’s position.


First there was Portsmouth. Then there was Portland. Where next ?? Port Uruguay ?
We hope so. This week will be spent finishing the loading of all our Antarctic Cargo and then we will finally set sail for the Equator and the start of the Antarctic Season at last. But that is what comes next. Meanwhile, let me fill you in on the proceedings of the last 2 weeks onboard the RRS Ernest Shackleton.
When I last wrote, we were all high and dry in the No.15 dock at Portsmouth, and one thing that failed to get mentioned in the last webpage was our ‘Farewell To Arms’ for Captain Antonio Gatti.

Even before he departed the Shackleton in September, Antonio had made provision for a return to the ship to collect the last of his chattels and say a proper farewell to his shipmates. Such a day was Friday 07th October.

Antonio showed up the day before and spent the night onboard. Also returning to the vessel for a visit was Ben Molyneau the Dentist and Penny Granger. Penny was onboard as the Dentist from 2001 to 2003, but this next season sees her return to the surgery of the Shackleton as she undertakes to care for our dentures for the 2005/2006 season. Doctor Frank was unable to attend, but sent his very best wishes in advance, and then we had two previous shipmates hove into sight to salute Antonio’s new colours. Henry Price the former Electrician of the Bransfield and Capt.Stuart Lawrence, who needs no introduction at all. Since his retirement 2 year ago, Capt Lawrence has been resident in the Hampshire area and it was wonderful to see him return to his old vessel to wish the very best to his former Chief of Officers. But of course, the star of the show was Antonio himself.

Since leaving in September he has enjoyed some well-earned leave at home in Spain with his wife and son, and was now en-route to join the RRS Discovery in Glasgow. Joining on the Sunday in Scotland, he was due to sail shortly thereafter for South Africa and will be en-route even now.

The venue for the farewell bash, was the Still and West, public house eatery in the Spice Island region of Portsmouth. This is the Old Town and has commanding views of the frequent ferries as they come and go to the nearby ferry terminal. A fitting venue for the occasion.
All mustered on the Shackleton about 7.00pm in time for pre-dinner drinkies and then there was a shuttle arranged to take us to the restaurant for 8.00pm.
Once all were assembled there and had a beverage in hand, we retired ‘above decks’ to the dining room where the bill of fayre was as follows : -


Please read the menu below and determine what you will be ordering for food on Friday Evening at the Still n' West Country House hostelry. Please tick your starter/mains by WEDNESDAY 05th (latest) or you may find yourself with a pint of lager and a packet of crisps ??!.


(A) Home Made Soup of the Day. - Served with a wedge of rustic bread
(B) Still n West Prawn Cocktail. - Norwegian Prawns served on a bed of Iceberg Lettuce and finished with Chef's own Marie Rose sauce. Served with brown bread.
(C.) Stilton and White Wine Mushrooms (V) - Button Mushrooms delicately cooked in a white wine Stilton Sauce. Served on a Green Olive Ciabatta Bread Crouton.


Fish Choice
(D).Traditional Cod and Chips. - Fillet of Cod battered in our own beer batter. Served with Chips, Mushy Peas and Tartar Sauce.

Meat Choice
(E). Spiced Red Beef - Strips of Fillet Tails marinated in Paprika, Chilli and Olive Oil, then Pan-fried with Celery, Tomato and Spring Onion in Honey. Worcestershire and Hoi Sin Sauce, served on a bed of Egg Noodles.
(F). Memorable Chicken - A Chicken Supreme filled with sun-dried Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Mozzarella Cheese, then wrapped in Smoked Bacon. Served on a bed of Spring Onion Mash with BBQ Sauce.
(G). Steak 'n' Ale Pie - Chunks of Beef cooked in HSB Ale, Oven-baked in Short-crust Pastry, served with a Red Onion Gravy.

Vegetarian Choice
(H). Corelli Pasta (V) - Tagliatelle cooked with Mushrooms, Peppers, and Cherry Tomatoes in Green Pesto, then topped with lightly grilled Goat's Cheese.

The Ensemble Click on image to enlarge 'The Ensemble'

Capt Stuart and Penny the Dentist. Capt Stuart and Penny the Dentist. Capt Graham behind.

Captain Gatti and Captain Gatti.(complete with Hat ???).

As the meal neared it’s completion, and with the Master’s looking on (Capt Stuart, Capt Graham, and Capt Antonio), another Master took the floor. Master of Ceremonies Mike, the 2nd Engineer rose to say a few words and introduce a few leaving pressies that the crew had chipped in together to obtain. It was a deeply touching moment as Antonio dug deep into the bag of presents to produce a rather fine sailor’s cap to be worn for the remainder of the evening … and possibly, his career ?!

Tributes were paid to the new Captain by Mike, on behalf of his shipmates, and by both the Shackleton Captain’s who had the pleasure to sail with Mr.Gatti as Chief Officer. Some associations with Tony go way back to 1992 when he joined his first BAS Ship, the RRS James Clark Ross. But the most satisfying part of the whole evening was that – to a man – everyone had shown up on this Friday evening to wish Tony the very best for his future career. The only 3 members missing from the party were the 3 disciplines remaining on duty on the Shackleton back in the dry dock. But I am sure that Paul, Martin and Ian were there in spirit too, if not in body.

Although the RRS Discovery is not destined for Antarctica in pursuit of science, we hope that it will not be the last we see of Capt Antonio, and look forward to a time when the two vessels may be in the same port together.

Bon Voyage Antonio.

Wavey Arthurs’s Weekly Wit Spot.

The Jokes remain the same, but the name has been changed to protect the innocent !

I’m sure you’ve heard it before but …

Davey told me of a friend of his whose car ran over a Rabbit. He stopped the car and went over to look at the bunny at the side of the road, and started to weep when he found he had totally killed the littl’ critter.

Just then a blonde haired girl pulled over in her car and asked ‘What is the problem ?’.

With a tear in his eye, he admitted to running over the Rabbit.

‘Don’t worry’ she says and rushes back to her car.

She returns with a can of spray in her hand and sprays it all over the body of the poor Rabbit, and miraculously, the man watches with amazement as the Rabbit jumps up and starts to run away…

However, after only a few feet, the Rabbit stops, turns on it’s heels, and shakes it’s paw in the air.

Of it goes again and after only a few more feet, it stops and repeats the action again. And so it goes on as the Rabbit finally disappear over the hill and out of sight. ‘That was fantastic’ said the man to the girl. ‘What did you spray it with to bring him back to life ?’

The girl shows him the can of spray she is holding and written bold on the can are the following words…


(Yes, the jokes DO remain the same…).

And back to the dry dock...

Apart from the convivial evening on the Friday, we have just had a torturous 2 further weeks of refit. All these strange people come onboard and cover the ship from keel to bridge with messy footprints and dirty handmarks. It is only to be expected in any refit, but it’s sad to see what a state our beautiful ship can get into when it is – afterall – our home ! But it is largely superficial and by the end of the refit, the cleaners are able to transform the vessel back into some semblance of order and cleanliness.

But the work had to go on. The Engineers were still pulling apart – and putting back together – the engines. The boys on deck were assisting all over the ship and got the opportunity to continue with the painting program and making the vessel look quite presentable after 4 months hard work in the North Sea environment. Even the ship’s antennas didn’t escape a good inspection and some tender loving care. Here we find Kongsberg’s Peter Menzies going aloft in a personnel basket to do some remedial work on the DGPS Antenna array. (he’s the one in Orange “!).

Aerial Work Aerial Work

Click on all images above to enlarge.

From the very top of the ship, to the bottom.  Not the ‘dock bottoms’ which were featured last time, but inside and under deck plates there is a whole warren of hidden passages and tanks.  We have had an extensive program of tank inspection and cleaning while we have been in Portsmouth – as dictated by our 5 year Refit Plan.  I seem to have misplaced the Ch.Officer’s photographs of the fresh water tanks as seen with the tank lids off, but I do have shots of under the poopdeck where we have the Heli-fuel tanks.  It’s a small space and the décor leaves a lot to be desired, but there are jobs to be done even down there.

Heli-fuel Tanks Heli-fuel tanks

Note the small holes in the bulkheads and the decks.

Finally, before flooding up (on the Saturday 15th) and moving out of the drydock (on the Monday 17th ), we refitted our Lifeboats, and returned ‘Tula’ back to her home on the main deck

Flying Boats?? Tulaa Board

This is an unusual sight… The boats usually go straight up and down the side of the ship when they are given their periodical launch and recovery. But I was lucky enough to snap this shot of it being manoeuvred into position by the shore crane as 3rd Officer Paul Clark and Officer Cadet Paul Curran standby to make it fast.

All the tests were made and the water-tight integrity of the vessel ensured before we left the dock and finally departed Portsmouth on time on Wednesday afternoon (19th October). It was only a short distance from Portsmouth to Portland, but with sea trials to conduct on the way, we didn’t anticipate the Portland Pilots until late in the evening. Instead of performing the sea trials just out of the Solent, off the Isle of Wight, the vessel waited until we were offshore Portland. As we cleared the I.O.W we found the weather was really inclement and the ship started to make heavy weather of the 50 knots of wind. It wasn’t as rough as we shall expect in the Biscay this year, but it was better to delay the Thruster trials until we were in the relative lee of the Portland coastline. The trials took about 3 hours to complete and then the crew went ‘to stations’ to get the Shackleton all tied up alongside the Outer Coaling Jetty in Portland, by midnight.

And Finally …

Since our arrival last week, we have been ‘all hands’ to the business of cargo. The 3 holds are presently being filled with drums, boxes and a strange array of parcels and packages all destined for Halley, Rothera and the other bases down South. It is reassuring after our time in the North Sea this Summer to see the return of things with an Antarctic flavour. A Nodwell Crane was photographed being loaded onto the helideck – which now assumes the guise of a Car Park for Caterpillar-Tracked Vehicles. And isn’t it good to see a Sno’Cat once more ?

Snow Trucks

Click to enlarge to see the trucks

There is still plenty of repair and maintenance work to be carried out post-refit and slowly, but surely, the Shackleton is returning to it’s normal state.  Things are being lashed down in preparation for sea and by Thursday this week (27th) we hope to be able to pull away and head onwards to South America.

Forthcoming Events: Complete Cargo operations and secure for sea.

Contributors this week: We would like to extend a hearty ‘Hello’ to our new readers from Scotland, Louise and Bethany Reid.

Diary No.4 will hopefully be written on Sunday 30th for publication on Monday 31st.

Stevie B
Radio Officer