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30 Oct - Rocking and Rolling

Date: Sunday 30 October 2005
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT+1): 44°15' North 009°54' West. In the Bay of Biscay
Next destination: Montevideo, Uruguay.
ETA: Monday 21st November 2005
Distance to go: 5497 nmiles.
Distance sailed from UK : 560nmiles since Portsmouth.
Total distance sailed: 560nmiles

Current weather: Cloudy, fine and Clear.
Wind: 28 knots at 200°
Sea state: Moderate to Rough, vessel pitching and rolling heavily at times.
Barometric pressure: 1006.9 mmHg
Air temperature: 17.1°C
Sea temperature: 16.4°C

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


Thursday 27th October at 19.30 hours was the date and the time that the RRS Ernest Shackleton finally said farewell to the UK and headed into the English Channel to officially herald the start of the 2005 / 2006 Antarctic Season.

For 8 days we had laid alongside the Outer Coaling Quay at Portland and filled the holds with Cargo and our decks with a multitude of vehicles, containers and Gas Bottle Racks. The majority of the work was undertaken in the worst of weathers as the relentless rain fell down into the open cargo holds and on the Deck department who were heavily clad in wet weather gear. I felt sorry for the Chief of Officers, Alan, as he stood overseeing the loading of the cargo on the decks with rain dripping of his extremities till late into the evening.

Our normal loading port is Grimsby on the Humber, and with the ship and cargo being new to the Portland Stevedores, our own deck department were very busy overseeing and assisting in all aspects of the operation, which made it a very long week alongside in Portland. Portland’s own staff were not sufficient in terms of numbers and skills to undertake the loading, and so riggers, shipwrights and other trades were brought in from as far away as the Isle of Wight.

Cargo Click on images to enlarge

Above we see the holds empty and ready to accept the cargo, and later, there is not a spare space on the decks – fully loaded.

Being some distance from the main town of Weymouth and having only the hamlet of Portland within near reach, many of the ship’s compliment opted for an ‘early night’ and quiet evenings spent onboard rather than doing the taxi ride to town.

I think it was a relief for all concerned when we finally closed the hatches, finished the lashings and headed out of the Port under pilotage. This journey marks the final weeks onboard for the crew who have had a very intensive 2 months in the North Sea followed by a very intensive 4 weeks refit and an equally intensive week of loading.

What is a FID?? You may notice that there is frequent reference to the term FID. Before the British Antarctic Survey was formed and after the war time Operation Tabarin, the Falkland Island Dependencies Survey was formed. When the name was changed to British Antarctic Survey, the term FID was used to describe anyone travelling South, whether a scientist or a technician. This term is still in use today, with all personnel on board who are not members of the ships company being referred to as FIDs. The Dentist, (when she embarks), who is the point of contact between the FIDs and the ships staff, is known as the Queen FID!
By Michael Gloistein


Apart from the cargo the vessel is also transporting 5 Fids and 2 Cadets South this year. The 2 cadets (Alex and Paul) will hopefully feature in a later webpage and we will explain what they are up to onboard and how they are enjoying their time here. The Fids (Falkland Island Dependents) or ‘passengers’, are bound for Halley and have opted to sail South rather than take the long flight down to the Falkland Islands next month. I shall be asking Dr.Vicky, Andrew, Matthew, Kirsty and Rob exactly why they chose to sail south – especially in light of recent events. (explanation to follow).

Given their instructions to join the vessel in Portland no later than midday on Thursday 27th, the first we saw of the FID’s was on the evening of Wednesday 26th when Dr.Vicky showed up a trifle early. This was on purpose. Vicky was to take blood samples of all the crew in their annual ‘letting of the veins’. Making a start on Wednesday evening, allowed Vicky to catch all of the crew members before we sailed on the Thursday and therefore send the blood samples ashore to the labs whilst we had the opportunity to do so alongside. Crew blood tests not only ensure we are all healthy and fit for service South, but primarily, to provide information on the blood groups of the various individuals should they be called on as blood donors whilst down South. It would not be the first time that crew members have assisted in a medical emergency.

But joining Vicky onboard on Thursday were 4 others complete with a whole entrage of family in tow. Remember, this would be the last time that some of our Southern-bound colleagues would be seeing ‘Mum and Dad’ for up to 33 months ! It’s a long time to be away by anybody’s standards. And so it was that we welcomed the families onboard for last moments together. Coming onboard allowed families to see the whole ship that their nearest and dearest would be spending the next 2 months on. They got to sample the fayre from the Galley as we invited them to stay to lunch, and the opportunity to meet Capt.Chapman and his crew to whom they would be entrusting their Antarctic Heroes.

Fleece of Fids Click on image to see a 'Fleece of Fids'

Here we see Andy Warner arriving with his family. The car is parked close by and all Andy’s chattels are offloaded ready to bring up the gangway. Amongst the huddle of bags and boxes you can make out his bicycle and remember that these few personal belongings are all that he will have to keep him company for two years.

Amongst the families that descended upon us, was a family from nearby Dorset. They do not have a family member travelling onboard with us this time, but, Craig Nicholls was onboard the Shackleton two years ago when we sailed from Immingham, and has been down in Halley ever since. Craig is due to return to the UK after this Antarctic season, and him Mum, Esmee, is particularly looking forward to seeing him again. However, Captain Chapman extended the invitation for Craig’s parents and his sister to come and visit the vessel while she was so near. This picture is taken for you Craig. I just KNOW you read your Antarctic Diaries !

Craig's Family Click on image to see 'Craig’s family before they enjoy a hearty lunch onboard the Shackleton'

We also caught some of the other families in the Red Room awaiting lunchtime after having had a tour of the ship from the Bridge to the Poop deck. I think the consensus was that they agreed the Shackleton was a nice vessel and leastways, none of the families took their FID’s away with them. ?

Craig's Family Click on image to see the Families

Enjoying their visits Craig's Family

Here are another couple of shots of Andrew’s Family and Vicky’s Family.

How happy they all look ! How little did they realise what was about to ensue ???


and roll
'Rock and Roll Baby!'

Little did they realise as they tucked into their lunch of pasta or fish, that they were about to go on a three-day enforced diet. Yes, the fair Shackleton went to sea and straight out into a gale force 8 in the English Channel. For the crew who had been practically ‘landlubbers’ for the last 5 weeks, there was some adjustment to get used to the movement of the ship once more. But for those new joiners who had never experienced the ‘Polar Roller’ before, it was a bit of an awakening… Not that many of them have been ‘awake’. Since leaving land on Thursday, only Rob has managed to put in any kind of a regular appearance at the meal table. Andy was close behind with an occasional appearance, but Matt, Vicky and Kirsty have been noticeable by their absence. Not being left to their own devices, Micky Quinn the Purser and Rob the FID have been popping their heads around the corner to see that all was well, but more aptly, I think our Fid’s have been rather more ‘unwell’ than well. Poor Fids. However, the Atlantic Low that has produced some Sou’westerly’s had been responsible for giving us ‘head on seas’ and that means that the ship pitches. As we neared Ushant on Saturday and ‘turned the corner’ into the Bay of Biscay, there was a slight relief from the pitching. She started to roll instead. Either way, the mass of papers strewn all over the office floors and the cabins pays testimony to the motion of the ocean and we are all hoping for an improvement in the next days, so we can walk the alleyways without bouncing off the walls like so many Pinball machine balls…

the Waves Click to see the Waves breaking over the Focs’le head,

Shackleton Beach and Click on Image to see the waves on the ‘Shackleton Beach’ !

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

Topically, Wavey Davey was on bridge watch this rough and rugged day, and told me of a lady who was onboard a cruise liner to enjoy a cruise.
Far from it. The weather was atrocious and she was frightfully seasick as the ship rocked and rolled. (seem familiar ???).

Having seen the weather forecast and the prospect of an imminent improvement, Davey, in passing, tried to cheer her up…
‘Chin up’, he said, ‘you’ll feel better once the moon comes up’ !

‘What’ ? she exclaimed… ‘I ‘ve got to bring that up as well’? she cried !

The forecast show’s no abatement of the current weather but the FID’s are starting to surface and I think ‘sea legs’ are being found all over the ship. Just as the James Clark Ross before us, we anticipate the weather becoming balmy and tropical as we grow ever closer and closer to the equator. Then we can start turning our attention to work on deck and preparation for Montevideo.

Forthcoming Events: Continue Full Away On Passage for Montevideo, and hopefully find some pleasant weather soon.

Contributors this week: Thanks to Mike Gloistein for an excerpt from his 1999 Diary. I shall be stealing many more pieces from his diaries in the coming weeks as they are always worth repeating.

Diary No.4 will hopefully be written on Sunday 06th for publication on Monday 07th November.

Stevie B
Radio Officer