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Mar 27 - We're Back

Date: Sunday 26th March 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT +3): 61°22' South 061°32' West.
Next destination: Port Lockroy, Antarctic Peninsula.
ETA: 0800 local time Monday 27th March 2006
Distance to go: 238.4 nmiles.

Current weather: Foggy, with Drizzle.
Sea State: Slight Sea and Moderate Swell
Wind : North’Norwest Force 4
Barometric pressure: 993.9 mmHg
Air temperature: 3.5°C
Sea temperature: 2.4°C

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

For up to date position information click on this link to ‘sailwx/info’.


The crew of the RRS Ernest Shackleton changed over in Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands this week.

We are back. He is back. And she is back !

We are back. The Capt John Marshall (JBM) crew departed the ship during the week to await their direct flights back home to Brize Norton in the UK. The MOD flights departed on Tuesday with another one leaving on the Saturday for the Officers who had stayed around for a longer handover. The Brize Norton flights fly to the UK via a fuel stop at the Ascension Islands.

He is back. Also returning to the Shackleton this week is Ch.Officer John Harper (JH). But a Ch.Officer no more. After leaving the JBM crew in January as Ch.Off, John joins the ship as the new master of the present crew. It is not the first time that Capt.John has taken command of the Shackleton but the new position is now permanent. Capt John had only 2 months leave before rejoining ship, but now falls into the 4 months on / 4 months off routine once again.

She is back. Ben the Dentist departed the Shackleton at the end of the last Antarctic season and is now working in a Practice in London somewhere. Therefore we have a new Dentist onboard who will attend to the dental health of the Crew and Base Members during our calls down South. Initially the job was shouldered by Penny Granger who was Ben’s predecessor in 2001-2003, but now is being ably shouldered by Wendy Scott ! This is not Wendy’s first time onboard the RRS Ernest Shackleton either. Wendy even pre-dated Penny as Dentist onboard. She served for the initial two seasons 1998-2001 and it is wonderful to see her return to Antarctic service. I have managed to convince Wendy to pen a few words about what she has been doing in the interim !


Yes, there is such a thing! Having worked for BAS as the Dental Officer for three very enjoyable years from 1998-2001, the time came for me to move aside and allow someone else the privilege of working in the white wilderness. That was five years ago and never in a month of Sundays did I expect to be back down South onboard the RRS Ernest Shackleton. I need to keep pinching myself to check that it’s real !

Click on image to Enlarge Wendy in the year 2000.
Click on image to Enlarge Wendy in the year 2000.

Since leaving BAS, I joined the Royal Navy as a Dental Officer and have worked in the south west of England in a variety of shore-based appointments. I am currently working with the Royal Marines in North Devon near Barnstaple, which I am enjoying immensely. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity of working back onboard ‘The Shack’ and visiting this amazing place once more.

And Wendy in the year 2006.
And Wendy in the year 2006.

Author Wendy the Dentist.

Flying to and from the Falklands.

As mentioned, there is a direct flight between the UK and the Falklands, operated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This was the chosen means of transport for the Shackleton’s crew members who flew down last weekend arriving on the Monday afternoon following a long 12-hour flight. One aspect of the MoD flight is that there is usually an ‘escort’ as the 747 approaches the Mount Pleasant Airport . These photo’s were taken by Wavey Davey on the approach to the Falkland Islands and show how impressive it is to be escorted into ‘port’ by your own jet fighter escort !

Jet Escort
Jet Escort

Single Jet Fighter amongst the Clouds
Single Jet Fighter amongst the Clouds

The Officers, however, departed their homes earlier in the week, travelling on the Thursday and taking the ‘more scenic’ route from the UK to the Falklands. The journey started for most in the UK with a flight to Madrid Airport in Spain and an onward flight to Santiago de Chile. Without the usual overnight stay, the Officer’s continued onwards through Chile to Puerto Monte and Punta Arenas where a hotel was arranged for the weary travellers. It was the end of an even longer 33-hour journey for some, but it didn’t finish there. After a pleasant and much deserved sleep in Punta Arenas, the 1.5 hour flight departed to Mount Pleasant with the civilian operator LAN (formally Lan Chile). Arriving on the Saturday 18th, we could see the Ernest Shackleton moored up safely in Mare Harbour just to the South of the MPA Airport, but we had 2 days in Stanley FI while we recuperated and waited to join the vessel on the Monday.

Click on image to expand the two routes to the Falklands.  All Roads Lead To Stanley !
Click on image to expand the two routes to the Falklands. All Roads Lead To Stanley !

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

Wavey returns in true form this week with more of his infectious humour, and with new crewmembers on the bridge, there is no shortage of an audience for all those jokes we have heard time and time again.

Wavey recently phoned Ireland to ask the operator ‘Is there a B and Q in Dublin ???’.

‘I don’t think so’ she said, ‘ D – U – B – L – I – N …. No ‘Q’, she replied.

Then when he hung up, the phone rang. He picked it up and put it down quickly with a look of annoyance on his face.

‘Who was it ?’ he was asked.

‘I don’t know’, said Davey. ‘Just some stupid person telling me that it’s a long distance from America,… as if I didn’t know ???’

Then when he wanted to travel there, he phoned the travel bureau.

‘What would be the flight time from England to America’ ? he asked the assistant.

‘Just a minute… ‘ she said.

‘Thank you’. Said Davey !!!

The Handover.

The handover comprised of the usual cups of tea being prepared whilst the off-going crew explained the state of the ship to the on-coming crew. Whenever the crew’s change over, there is always an amount of outstanding work that the oncoming crew must take onboard. There is always something more to be done with the ship and just like the painting of the Forth Road Bridge, as soon as you complete one task, another is waiting to take it’s place.

At this handover however, the ship is in pretty good state, and not too much needed to be passed over.

The longest handovers onboard were between the Masters, the Chief Officers and the Third Officers.

Captain John (H) was taking over for the first time as Master from Captain John (M).

Ch.Officer Dewi Pritchard is new with BAS and was taking over the reigns from Alan ‘Navs’ Newman, who cannot now be called ‘Navs’ since his promotion to Ch.Officer on the JBM crew. Dewi had already spent 3 weeks with the Shackleton when he joined in January for a ‘sneak preview’, but needed the complete handover from Alan this week.

Finally, we have another new face on the Shackleton Bridge. Since Mike Golding has moved into Alan Newman’s place as Navigator, the remaining void has been filled by Dave Elliott, who joins us as 3rd Officer. There will be more about these gentlemen in later pages, but meanwhile they have taken to their respective roles and we sailed away on time from Mare Harbour on the 23rd March bound for the Antarctic Peninsula.

The weather on departing the Falklands was windy and overcast with the promise of storms meeting us midway over the Drake Passage, and we were not disappointed. For two very uncomfortable days, the ‘Polar Roller’ rocked and rolled her way South keeping the crew awake, and those lily-livered of us rushing for the toilets as seasickness set in ! It was only today that Sunday morning brought calmer seas and the winds backing around to the aft of the ship, which always makes for a more comfortable voyage.

Roll-on the relative shelter of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Forthcoming Events: Visit Port Lockroy and uplift the 3 Summer Base members there and then proceed to Rothera. This will be the last call of the season for Rothera where we will uplift all but the winter Base personnel and then depart Antarctica for the Falkland Islands once again.

Contributions This Week : Thanks to Wendy Scott and Wavey Davy for the Jet photographs.

Diary No.8 will hopefully be prepared on Sunday 2nd April for publication on Monday 03rd April.

and a big ‘Hello’ to Vreni too.

Stevie B
Radio Officer.