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A Visit To Signy

Date: Sunday the 15th January 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT-3): Alongside, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands
Next destination: South Georgia
ETA: 20th January
Distance to go: N/A
Total distance sailed from UK : N/A
Current weather: Overcast
Wind: Northerly force 3
Sea State: Calm
Barometric pressure: 990.2
Air temperature: +12.9°C
Sea temperature: +11.3°C

Click on www.sailwx.info for our latest position

The Ernest Shackleton departed the Halley area on the 2nd of January and after an uneventful passage with calm seas,good weather and very little ice we arrived off Signy on the 10th. Signy is located in the South Orkney Islands and is a real haven for wildlife which makes it an ideal study area for the scientists. We were greeted as usual by the same Skua which always lands on the ship as soon as we get near to Signy (probably looking for the odd tit bit left over from lunch)

Skua on Deck.
Skua on Deck.

Soon after arrival the Anchor was dropped and the cargo tender Tula was launched,loaded and sent off to the base to complete the resupply and pick up four PAX who have finished their work at the base, Two of which are Dutch and are now en route to Rothera base via the Dash 7 aircraft which fly's out of Stanley Airfield so Stef Bokhorst and Merlijn Janssens will be working at Rothera base until March, Also picked up at Signy was Annie Tan and Yuh-Shan Goh who are both Malaysian and now en route home via the UK.

Signy Base
Signy Base

The following pictures are a small sample of the wildlife that can be seen at Signy

Cape Petrel
Cape Petrel

Adelie Penguin with chick
Adelie Penguin with chick

Snow Petrel on her nest
Snow Petrel on her nest

Visit To Signy, 4 Dec 2005 to 10 Jan 2006 by Annie Tan

It was our first time to the Antarctic. My postgraduate student and I were in Signy Island to collect soil samples for microbial diversity studies. We, inhabitants from the Equator, went over the moon when we spotted our very first iceberg, first elephant seal, first penguin…almost everything was a first for us. We got off the Shackleton and were immediately put to field training by Liz, our GA. The Stonechutte Gully was quite an obstacle for us as we were not familiar with the terrain. Eventually, we got used to the uphill trudge as we'd always have to pass it in order to get to other parts of the island. We also quickly adapted to the temperature, even on days that were below zero (minus the strong westerly winds).

Stonechutte Gully
Stonechutte Gully

During the first week, Steve, the base commander, showed us the length and breath of the island. The scenery was incredibly amazing and breathtaking, to say the least. We also learnt how to make fresh bread, thanks to Andy, our facilities technician. After getting used to the routine around the base plus the constant grunts and snores of the ellies, we set out to work- we went scouting for soils around the base station, had long walks to Gourlay Peninsular to see the penguin colony (enthusiastically encouraged by Mike, the resident penguin biologist) and to Three Lakes Valley, through Elephant Flats (where we got in the way of more elephant seals), not forgetting to collect more soil samples as well. More work awaits us in the labs that we shared with Paula (a soil scientist from Wales), Stef, Merlijn and Ruben (three scientists from the Netherlands).

A stray macaroni penguin amongst adelie and chinstrap penguins
A stray macaroni penguin amongst adelie and chinstrap penguins

For Christmas, we pulled crackers and had a hearty dinner complete with a roast turkey and champagne. A week later, two mini flares were released to usher in the New Year.

Group photo for Christmas
Group photo for Christmas

Time flies when you're having fun. It has been an extremely wonderful experience for us. Many thanks to BAS (especially Pete) for the support. We certainly would like to come back to Antarctica if given another chance. For now, we'd like to say to our families: " See you soon for Chinese New Year!"

Annie Tan


The Ernest Shackleton departed Signy on the 11th and headed for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands and we enjoyed yet more calm weather for the route across the Drakes Passage arriving at Port Stanley late afternoon on Saturday 14th. While in Port Stanley the ship will offload waste which is removed from the Antarctic Bases for disposal, also we will take on Bunkers and fresh Victualling Stores ready for the next work period in the Antarctic.

The Ernest Shackleton alongside in Port Stanley Falkland Islands.
The Ernest Shackleton alongside in Port Stanley Falkland Islands.

Stanley itself is a short 10 minute walk from where the ship berths and you can find plenty of places to eat and drink for a night out, Also has quite a few gift shops for the many visiting passenger vessels that arrive mainly over the summer and most are on route to the Antarctic most go via South Georgia and end up with a cruise down the Antarctic Peninsular before returning to South America.

Christ Church Cathedral Ross Road Stanley.
Christ Church Cathedral Ross Road Stanley.

Entrance to the Governor's Residence.
Entrance to the Governor's Residence.

Liberation Monument.
Liberation Monument.

A Falkland Islands lawn mower.
A Falkland Islands lawn mower.

Last but not least, Congratulations to our Chief Officer John Harper who has been promoted to the rank of Captain, Unfortunately he leaves us here in Stanley and will be Joining the ship again in March to take command of our opposite crew aboard the Ernest Shackleton so we all wish him every success in his well deserved new role as Captain.

John Harper on the Ernest Shackletons bridge
John Harper on the Ernest Shackletons bridge

That's about all from the Ernest Shackleton for this week, Forthcoming events include departure form Port Stanley and arrival at KEP South Georgia.

Thanks to all who provided the photos this week and to Annie Tan for the account of her visit to Signy Base.

All that remains is a big hello to all our friends and family back home

Dave Bailey.