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Dec 10 - Adios to the Falklands

Date: Sunday 10th December 2006
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 56°53.2 South, 041°44.2 West, En Route to Bird Island
Next destination:  Bird Island Base, South Georgia
ETA: 0800am, Monday 11th December 2006
Distance to go: 223.5 nmiles.
Distance Since Montevideo. :  8510.6 nmiles.
Current weather: Overcast Skies, but Fine and Clear.
Sea State: Slight Seas giving a gentle motion en route.
Wind :  NorthWesterly, 21 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 988.7 mmHg
Air temperature:   2.9°C
Sea temperature:  +1.0°C

Click to Enlarge.

Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations.


Click on Images to Enlarge.

Whilst alongside in Mare Harbour, Falkland Islands, some of our 'passengers' managed to get ashore for exploring.  There was a daily shuttle bus to travel the 40-odd miles into the Island's Capital, and then another shuttle bus up to the Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA) for those who wouldn't face the 60 minute journey to Stanley.

Another destination on offer was 'Bertha's Beach' which has been mentioned in the annals of these pages before.  Bertha's Beach offers our FID's* their first opportunity to glimpse real live penguins in the wild.  By the time they reach the Deepest South of Antarctica, they will all be totally blasé about the sight of these incredible feathered clowns, but for a first glance, it is only a short walk from the Shackleton tied up in Mare Harbour to the sandy (and blustery) beach know as Bertha's.

More adventurous trekkers could always stride out to find the infamous peaks of 'Twins Sisters' or  to walk to Mount William and Tumbledown, or all those hills immortalized by the Falklands Conflict 1982..

* (FIDs = Falkland Island Dependents).

Departure from Mare Harbour, Signy-bound.

All too soon, the RRS Ernest Shackleton had to secure for sea and head out into the oceans to continue her busy itinerary.   Luckily, the weather upon departing Mare Harbour was sunny and bright and the wind was not too strong.  Coming from a North / Nor'westerly direction, the wind was on the aft quarter of the ship which did not pitch too badly and provided all onboard with a relatively stable voyage onwards to Signy.  The Shackleton can be a lovely ship on which to travel depending upon the direction of the wind. But when it is coming from a head-on direction and she starts pitching, it can make the whole experience less-than desirable. 

FIDs are put to work.

The advent of bad weather, is noted by the lack of FID's around the ship generally.  Seasickness is a great advocate of quiet common rooms and empty mess room.  But that was not the case this week and we have been able to keep our new-comers fully entertained with a rota for Gash (*) and helping out generally around the vessel.  

(GASH = Cleaning and Catering duties).

Many-a-potato has been peeled and many-a-bulkhead has been scrubbed.  But other tasks have been found to make the most of an extra pairs of hands available on voyage.  Here is a picture of the new Halley Comms Manager, Dean Evans, co-hersed into giving a helping hand to prepare data cables for those wishing to plug in their laptops in the cabins !

Thanks Dean.


Other than Gash and Chores, the voyage South to Signy was pretty uneventful.  I was waiting for the inevitable pilgrimage of FIDs to the Bridge or the Monkey Island to watch for their very-first Iceberg as soon as we crossed the Convergence. (*)

(*) Antarctic Convergence - where the warmer waters of the South Atlantic give way to the colder water temperatures of the Antarctic seas.  In the space of 18 hours the Sea temperature dropped from +6.0 degrees to -1.0 degree and gave the promise of Icebergs.

Although the ship was slowed at night and the 'headlights' turned on ( The RRS Ernest Shackleton has 3 high power Ice lights pointing forward ), any Iceberg observers were destined to be disappointed.  Having crossed the Convergence on Wednesday 06th December, we then were escorted by a covering of fog for the rest of the journey to Signy.  Bergs of various dimensions appeared on the radar screens, but alas, even at 1 mile distance, they were just not visible from the ship as she steamed slowly by.

The first sighting of an Iceberg is a wonder to behold.  I have seen FIDs go wild with their cameras as they snap away at the tiny little bump far away on the horizon.  The photographic evidence as a result is less-than impressive.  Emails home to 'Mum' ensue, but within the space of a day, the ship is surrounded by the things and the general consensus is ' ... ohh,... look ?  ANOTHER Iceberg ! '

It is easy to get blasé about the majesty of these Icebergs, but in this case, everyone had to await our arrival in Signy on the Thursday morning before the fog finally yielded and allowed us unrestricted views of Signy and the neighbouring Coronation Island.

Click on Images to Enlarge

This was the view that awaited us as we steamed into the approaches to Borge Bay at Signy.  At 06.00am, the morning was bright, blue and clear and the icebergs were all around.  The bergs were sizeable and many, but did not impede our progress and once in the approaches to Signy, the waters were clear and a whole lot more accessible than it was for our Sistership James Clark Ross in November.

  However, as is the case with the Sub-Antarctic Islands, with one blink of the eye the weather changed, and the bulk of the Signy relief was completed under grey, overcast skies and even drizzly rain.  Our remit at Signy involved transferring a field hut from the Base to the Gourlay Penguin Colony and commissioning of some shoreside equipment.  Once the work was complete, there was a little time for some runs ashore in the rain.

Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

Wavey Davey is getting a 'week off' this week.  I've decided to give vent to my own 

aviation bent and do a Wavey Stevie Joke for you.  

A Hercules C-130 was flying on a mission when a cocky F-16 pilot flew up next to him.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, "watch this!" and promptly went into a barrel roll followed 

by a steep climb!  He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier.

The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that.

The C-130 pilot said, "That was impressive, now watch this!"

The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes, and then the C-130 pilot came
back on and said, "What did you think of that?"

Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, "What did you do?"

The C-130 pilot chuckled, "I stood up, stretched my legs, went to the back of the plane, 

went to the bathroom, had a cup of coffee and a fairy bun !"

That may be a little advanced for avid followers of Wavey Davey jokes, so he will be back next week with more of his own particular style.

The continuing adventures of PP.

by Wavey Davey

Postman Pat the crew look-alike has been kidnapped and is taken to the high ‘Handy’ mountains.   

He his hidden in ‘caves’ to avoid being found.

He tries to escape on a tractor but does not get far before 

being re-captured by the nasty bandits, and is taken to another ‘cave’.

To be continued..


Working at Signy involved launching Tula and getting her bottom wet.

Here is a picture showing the folks dressed up in Orange and ready for a day of work hauling cargo.  Note the very nice, new, crash hats that all the most fashionable FIDs will be wearing this year !

Click to Launch the Tula.

Several Tula trips later and all the Signy cargo was ashore.  Then began the shoreside walks as duties allowed, and finally an evening meal onboard on Friday night for the Base Personnel.  Aperitifs were served around 06.00pm and the usual plethora of food appeared on the Bain Marie shortly thereafter.  A pleasant evening was enjoyed by all, except that it was cut-short by deteriorating weather conditions, which meant the last boat-run to shore returned the Base Personnel to Base early in the evening.

That afternoon, Stevie B the Radio Officer got ashore with some colleagues to inspect a small lake near to the Base.  This was Pump House Lake and apart from a small reservoir of Glacial melt-water, it also boasted what remains of an old pumping station - used to pump freshwater to the base in earlier years.  The pumping station has only a few artefacts left, and the occasional evidence of the abundance of wildlife that lives thereabouts.

Click for Shakespeare.  

Picking up an old seal skull, Stevie B regales his mates with a quick rendition of ' Alas Poor Yorik, I knew him, Horatio ' ( Hamlet, Shakespeare).

Due to the danger of speeding off in the dark of the night whilst surrounded with lots of ice, it was deemed better to remain at anchor overnight on Friday and start bright and early on the Saturday morning for our next destination.  Leaving Signy behind, we steamed off to the Western side of Coronation Island before turning North.

  The Departure Track of the Shackleton.


In last week's web page, we referred to Cormorants Dolphins.  Apologies for the mistake but the reference should have been to 'Commerson's Dolphins'.  We have not been discovering a whole new species of Dolphin in the Falklands, and ... I blame Wavey Davey !!!

Forthcoming Events: Complete a quick call to Bird Island and proceed to King Edward Point in South Georgia.

Contributions This Week : Thanks to Photographers James Ditchfield and Ralph Stevens, and Wavey Davey's Postman Pat..

Diary No.4 will be prepared on Sunday 17th December for publication on Monday 18th December.

Stevie B
Radio Officer