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Nov 27 - Crew Change!

Date: Sunday 26th November 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): Alongside in Montevideo, Uruguay..
Next destination: Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands
ETA: 10.00 hrs 01st December 2006
Distance to go: 1077.1 nmiles.
Distance Since Montevideo. :  6416.6 nmiles.
Current weather:  Overcast, Fine and Clear.
Sea State: Calm alongside
Wind :  Easterly, 03 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1019.1 mmHg
Air temperature:   21.5C
Sea temperature:  19.5C

Latest position

Up to date position information is no longer available from ‘sailwx/info’ as we have ceased Meteological Observations whilst in the North Sea.


Yes, the 'A Team' are back...   or would that be the 'B Team' ???

There is a difference of opinion between the crews as to which is the A team and which the B ?

In truth there is no 'better team' between the two, just differences.  Sometimes it perplexing as to whether we work for the same company, let alone work on the same ship, because attitudes and practices between the two crews can oftentimes vary.  It is a difference that is noted by our FID (Falkland Island Dependents) passengers and office staff.  That is not to say that both crews don't follow the meticulously maintained Procedures Manuals which are written instructions for everything that is done onboard, but just in the way one crew will 'label the pens' around the bridge while the other crew do not ?  One crew instigates a particular colour or type of mug at the coffee point whilst the other crew opt for other alternatives ?  However, if there is an 'A Crew' and a 'B Crew' it is difficult to conclude which crew is which ?   I suspect that since historically it was Capt John Marshall's crew that was the first to sail with the RRS Shackleton way back in 1999, then they might be considered Crew A ?  Other than that I decline to commit myself !!!

Whichever crew we are ... we are BACK.

After a very busy 2 months in the North Sea during May and June, the Capt John Harper crew were definitely ready for a spot of leave and 4 months later we all met up in the airport as we rejoined the vessel from the 4 corners of the world.  From Scotland, from England, from Wales, from Germany, from Spain, the crew which are all primarily UK citizens have chosen to take up residence in different countries around Europe or the world.  Our newly-joined 3rd Officer can even boast the start of his joining journey as Brazil ?  So we are a really widespread lot.  But I still find it comical that no matter from where the journey originates, it is always Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport in London where the paths coincide and warm 'hello's' are exchanged amongst comrades parted for 16 weeks !

And so we all travelled to Montevideo in Uruguay where the RRS Ernest Shackleton was awaiting us.


The Officers all travelled down to 'Monte' on 22nd November arriving on the 23rd.  The Crew followed a day later.  The 12 hour flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil and then the additional 2 hours 40 minutes to Montevideo were followed by an evening in the NH Columbia Hotel where we could all recover from the rigours of 'airplane head'.  Not quite 'jet-lag', but certainly that weariness that goes hand-in-hand with modern day jet travel !  

Click on the small image to see the alternative beach-view.

The Columbia is the hotel in which we usually stay for one night when joining or leaving the vessel here in Monte.  It is a modest hotel but boasts a view over the River Plate (Rio De La Plata) and the associated sandy beaches.  The River estuary is a wonderful colour considering it is an alluvial estuary like the River Humber back in the UK, yet the view is pretty and the hotel is conveniently situated only a short walk from the Plaza Independica and the town centre.  (  There are some nice Monte pictures on one of the recent RRS James Clark Rosswebpages worth checking out )

Although we should have all be snoozing merrily after getting directly off the aeroplane, many crew members found themselves in the town on their first night to catch up with leave-stories from their colleagues, sample the local cuisine, and have an unwinding beer before bedtime.

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

No sooner had we met up with Wavey Davey in the Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport, we found that he was starting as he means to go on ...

Davey asked, 'Can you name 4 Fish whose names start with the letter 'K' ? '

Blank stares ensued as we pondered the question.

'We give up' we were obliged to concede.

With a broad grin Davey gave us the benefit of his wisdom...

'Kipper, King Clip, Koi, and Kilmarnock' ...

'Kilmarnock isn't a Fish' we all retorted...

'Yes it is', said Davey... 'it's a Plaice in Scotland' !!!

Unfortunately, we didn't manage to lose Davey on the journey through the terminal and on the way down to join the vessel !


After recovering from the travel fatigue, the Officers and Crew started their handovers onboard before the off-going chaps took a bus to the Hotel for their night of comfort ashore.  The Ernest Shackleton may boast up to 72 berths, but with 35 passengers (FIDS) about to join, there is never enough space to accommodate the two crews together during the handover period.  Besides which, after 4 months onboard, the off-going crew are always relieved to be off the ship at last and at their ease.

One such member was the off-going Radio Officer (ETO-C) Patrick O'Hara.  I make mention of Pat because he newly-joined the Shackleton in July in the North Sea and has been admirably shouldering the position of communications and electronic officer during a very steep learning curve these last months.  Pat is a resident of South Africa and his particular journey has him flying back to Cape Town via Sao Paulo this weekend.  Pat would like to pass on his apologies to the readership for not producing webpages during the last months, but with such an amount of work and information to absorb, he was unable to find any spare capacity for web-page writing.  He hopes to take up the reins of web editor on his return to the ship next spring, so meanwhile we wish him a very pleasant leave at home.

Click on image to see Off-going Radio Officer Patrick ready for his leave.

The handovers were effected within a very short time and Capt Marshall's crew departed.  Capt Harper's crew have already taken up the duties and are preparing to set sail on Monday afternoon for the Falkland Islands accompanied by 36 additional passengers all heading for Antarctica.  With the 6 original FIDS who sailed South from Immingham in the UK, we will have a full compliment of 65 persons onboard.  That will make it nice and cosy in the 4 man cabins !  In only 4 days we will be in Mare Harbour in the Falklands and can tranship some of our compliment over to the James Clark Ross who will be in Stanley at the same time.  There may even be a chance for some of the crews to visit each other during the port calls.

But meanwhile, we are preparing to leave the Port of Montevideo and head out into the South Atlantic.  It promises to be gray and bleak, but nevertheless reasonably calm for the voyage.  Presently, the RRS Ernest Shackleton is 'stern to' at the quay and sandwiched between an array of other vessels and surrounded on the shore by a fortress of containers.  I took a walk last evening to capture essence of the ship in it's present moorings. This is the view of the ship that will welcome our new-joining FIDS when they arrive from their flight this very afternoon (Sunday).

Click on all images to enlarge.

The Shackleton Sandwiched between other vessels.

The Shackleton Sandwiched between other vessels.

The container area of the Montevideo docks.

The container area of the Montevideo docks.

and finally, all vessels in port fly their own Nationality flag and the flag of Uruguay too.

This is known as the  'courtesy flag' 

Forthcoming Events: Departure from Montevideo on Monday Afternoon (27th) and make the crossing with a full ship to Mare Harbour in the Falkland Islands.

Contributions This Week : Having just joined the vessel, no-one has yet been co-ersed into contributing, but plenty of willing victims for next weeks webpage !  Watch this space.

Diary No.2 will be prepared on Sunday 03rd December for publication on Monday 04th December.

Stevie B
Radio Officer