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Apr 13 - Alongside in Rothera

Date: Sunday 09th April 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT +3): 51°41' South 057°49' West. Alongside FIPASS, Stanley, Falkland Islands.
Next destination: Grimsby, England, UK.
ETA: To Be Advised once underway.
Distance to go: 7263.0 nmiles.

Current weather: Sunshine and clear. The normal Westerly Stanley Breeze, but pleasant.
Sea State: Calm alongside the FIPASS at Stanley
Wind: Westerly Force 3.
Barometric pressure: 1003.7 mmHg
Air temperature: 11.5°C
Sea temperature: 8.8°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’.

Alongside in Rothera.

After completing all that cargo last week, the vessel was made ready to sail North from Rothera Station and return to the Falklands. After 5 days of continually working cargo, the last evening saw the boys out on deck working till late to ensure the last of the backloading was complete and everything was tied down, secure and ship-shape ready for an early morning departure on the Monday morning. Again, the deck crew worked very hard during the visit with no break between completing cargo operations and returning to the 4-on / 8 hours off routine of regular watches at sea.

Working Cargo till late on the Sunday afternoon.
Working Cargo till late on the Sunday afternoon.

There were more than a few weary bodies as we departed Rothera. Perhaps this might have had something to do with the ungodly hour of departure ?

Click on Image to Enlarge.
Click on Image to Enlarge.

It was 0700 am when the lines were slipped, the thrusters were operated and the Shackleton eased off the Biscoe Wharf. Final farewells had taken place on the quayside as the 40 departing personnel took their leave of the 21 colleagues remaining on the Base for Winter. I am always touched by these farewells. For up to 2-1/2 years these guys had lived in the close confines of an Antarctic Base and shared work, parties, field-trips and gash duties, only to be torn asunder – possibly never to meet again ? It must be a very special, heart-rendering feeling to have to say ‘goodbye’ to friends and colleagues for the last time.

But the Shackleton departed promptly at 0700am to the salute of the Winterers waving arms and pyrotechnics in the traditional Base farewell to the vessel. Within 15 minutes, the Biscoe Wharf was a small spot on the horizon in the growing light, and it never really got any lighter all day. It was miserable and cloudy and snowy and sun-less all day as we crept along the Antarctic Peninsula and towards the Drake Passage.

We were not blessed with the best of weathers on the 3 day voyage down to Rothera, and it would appear that we were not going to be blessed on the way North either. Just looking at the daily Forecast charts was a promise of impending gloom ! Here is an example of one of those charts, which clearly shows how a spider with dirty roller skates had been skating all over the page ! Those tight black lines mean only one thing… wind, waves and seasickness.

Click on the Image to Enlarge the Spider Tracks…
Click on the Image to Enlarge the Spider Tracks…

As usual most of the FID’s onboard made themselves scarce. Once clear of the Southern tip of Adelaide Island, those Northerly winds whipped up the seas and the infamous Shackleton started her unpleasant pitching/rolling movement that was to make many-a-person seasick and give disturbed sleep patterns to everybody onboard. It is not the most pleasant feeling. Even the simplest of chores can be a trial when the motion-of-the-ocean makes the Shackleton wobble. I take my hat off to the Galley staff who keep producing great food, for ever-dwindling numbers of customers, while trying to stop the majority of their utensils from sliding all around the galley !

The foul weather stayed with us for the majority of the trip North and it was only one day out of Mare Harbour when the seas finally relinquished and gave us a better last day at sea before our arrival in port on the Friday.

In Mare Harbour we spent just the one day unloading all the waste and Cargo ex-Rothera, and this is where our 40 passengers left us. They all left on the Saturday to catch the Northern-bound flights back to Brize Norton and Heathrow. More ‘goodbyes’ ensued and then the Shackleton was left calm and serene with only the 21 crew and 1 doctor remaining onboard as we then proceeded around to Berkley Sound – just North of Stanley – to collect bunkers on the Saturday afternoon.

The Marine Bit…

Alongside in Mare Harbour on the Friday, and again at sea on the transit around to Berkley Sound, we were blessed with many sightings of Commersons Dolphins. In Mare Harbour, they were ‘cruising’ around and about the jetty and playing in the shallows. On the transit, (as we have seen many times before), the Dolphins were playing in our bow waves. This is the exercise whereby they swim (at speed) just ahead of the ship’s bow as she cuts the water. The pressure gradient produced by the bow pushing the weight of water forward gives the Dolphins some kind of Adventure Ride …

These marine mammals are reputed to have an intellect second-only to man. They are so intelligent. Excuse me ??? Call me dumb, but what is so intelligent about swimming in front of a 4000 Tonne ship ??? If I were to go roller skating in front of a Number 13, Red Double Decker Bus, would you call me intelligent ? Would I not be classed as some sort of moron with a suicide wish ???

I’m sorry, but despite it being very thrilling to see these wonderful marine mammals slice with grace through the water, it hardly seems very intelligent to me ?

To me, it is about as intelligent as those penguins huddled together for warmth down South in the Antarctic Winter, when they could all swim North for the winter and spend their days cruising the beaches of Florida and taking in the rays ???


The Crewmember of the Moment

Michael Quinn… aka ‘Arkwright’ !

Despite awful weather on the North-bound journey, Arkwright was on top form ! Micky Quinn is responsible for taking all new-comers to the vessel and giving them a ‘Safety Induction’. This is a very involved talk on the emergency equipment and procedures we have in place on the Shackleton in case of the unlikely event of an emergency. Micky takes everyone around the vessel to show them Muster Stations, Lifeboat Stations, the Lifeboats and – of course – his Bonded Store !

As observed by the Ch.Officer, Micky’s is perhaps the only Safety talk that starts at the Emergency stations and ends up with an all-inclusive tour of his shop onboard !!!

The ‘Bond’ is where the Ship’s Purser keeps everything from Bottles of Wine to Head and Shoulders Shampoo. He does an exceedingly good line in Sweatshirts, (so long as you require XXXL ?), Baseball Caps, Fleeces, Cameras, Watches, Batteries and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. Like his namesake in the hit BBC Comedy, you can always find a willing purveyor of merchandise in Micky at any time of the night or day !

Starring alongside David Jason, Micky Quinn is O-O-O-Open most Hours.
Starring alongside David Jason, Micky Quinn is O-O-O-Open most Hours.

Some speculate that on the evening of Wednesday 05th, when the ship rolled very heavily to Starboard, it was for no other reason than Micky’s wallet had fallen off his desk and across the deck of his cabin ? Again, the Ch.Officer admits that the Shackleton is perhaps the only vessel in the world where the Purser’s Wallet is taken into consideration in the onboard Stability Calculations of the Ship ???

Click on Image to Enlarge a Character – larger than life !
Click on Image to Enlarge a Character – larger than life !

But we wouldn’t be without him. Mick is a cracking guy and he can get you all manner of goods from his store whenever you need them. Only pray to the God of all Bank Managers that when you need a new Toothbrush, that you come away from his shop with only a toothbrush. The last time that I tried it, I came away with over £ 100.00 pounds of goods. He really is a good Purser. Unfortunately, he is an even better Arkwright !!!

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot

Wavey Davey was in musical form this week. I don’t know if the written word will do it justice, but we will try.

Al Capone bought some new alligator skin shoes. He loved his shoes. They were bright, shiny and new and very very comfortable. Al loved his new shoes and was seen in them most of the time. He only ever took them off to go to bed.

One night as he lay asleep, the cat found his shoes under the bed and tore them to pieces. He chewed and bit them until they were totally destroyed.

In the morning Al discovered this and sent out all his henchmen to find the cat and kill it !

After much searching through the city, one of his hoods came to Al with a miserable-looking cat in his hand and proffered it to the Gangster Boss.

Singing his question to the Mafia king, he asked…

‘Pardon me Boss, is this the cat who chewed your new shoes ???’

(sung to the tune of the Glen Miller 1930’s famous jazz tune).

Davey will be back on song again next week.

The Bunkering Operation.

Click on Image to Enlarge.
Click on Image to Enlarge.

Click on Image to Enlarge.
Click on Image to Enlarge.

Alongside the tanker ‘Centaurus’.

This was – I believe – a ‘first’ for the Shackleton. We usually take ‘Bunkers’ around at Mare Harbour, but having discharged our cargo at East Cove, the vessel sailed around to Berkley Sound to take Bunkers directly from the tanker ‘Centaurus’. It took 6 hours to sail around to the bay just North of Stanley and we were surprised to find many vessels at anchor when we got there. And having taken bunkers, we found that we could not lay alongside the tanker till morning as we had intended because further vessels were waiting to come alongside for bunkers too. Who would have believed the place to be so busy ?

So we ‘stoogied’ (*) around outside the bay overnight and brought the Shackleton alongside the Stanley FIPASS on the Sunday morning. And that is where you find us now. We have an overnight in Stanley where we embark the last of our passengers bound for the UK and then put to sea again on the Monday morning.

(*) Stoogie = to sail up and down the same bit of water, going nowhere in particular.

Forthcoming Events: Complete loading all UK-bound cargo from Stanley and secure for sea.

Contributions This Week: Awaiting contributions at all times.

NOTE FROM MICKY-BAY… He says he is open to any requests for postal sales !

Diary No.10 will hopefully be prepared on Sunday 16th April for publication on Monday 17th April.

Stevie B
Radio Officer.