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Dec 24 - Happy Xmas

Date: Sunday 24th December 2006


Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 74°28.2 South, 026°05.0 West, - Trying to Reach Halley Base
Next destination: N9 Near Halley Base, Brunt Ice Shelf.
ETA: Unknown. Dependent upon Ice Conditions for the Remaining Journey.
Distance to go:54.0 nmiles.
Distance Since Montevideo. : 11125.4 nmiles.

Current weather:Overcast Skies, but Light, Bright, Fine and Clear.
Sea State: No Sea is Visible. With 10/10th's Pack Ice the only movement of the ship is back and forth.
Wind : South Sou'westerly, 12 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 992.1 mmHg
Air temperature: -1.1°C
Sea temperature: -2.1°C

Click to Enlarge.

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

The RRS Ernest Shackleton is in the 'gloop' today. Here we are a mere 54nmiles away from the Creeks of Halley, and in open water, our arrival time would be approximately 5 hours. However, since we are surrounded by 10/10th's Pack Ice as seen by our web-camera, , our arrival time is ... ???

My own guess at 06.00 hours local time on the 23rd December has come and gone and so I am certainly not winning the 'Halley Sweepstake' this year. Our very own Ch.Engineer Derek with his 'outside chance' of January 15th may be nearer the truth after all ? But one thing is for sure, we will be spending Christmas Day in the Ice off Halley and having a very White and Bright Christmas at sea.

A Very Merry Christmas to all our readership on this Christmas Eve.

Click on Image to Enlarge.

'Our only Christmas Visitor this year, apart from the occasional Penguin'.

So the daily pursuit of the RRS Ernest Shackleton is to battle our way through the floes of Ice and attempt to 'puddle jump' from open pools of water to open pools of water. The open pools have latterly become very far and few between and we have had to continually 'chip away' at the Pack Ice by running forward, breaking the ice, and reversing to repeat the process. It is very slow, deliberate work, but it is keeping the Sunglasses-clad Master and Mates amused, occupied and continually at the tiller for their 12 hour shifts.


Once upon a time... in a land of Ice far far away, there was a jolly ship that sailed the oceans wide. It roamed across the Icy wastes in search of the elusive Land of Halley which was reputed to be full of pies and sweets and all things good. All the sailors on the little ship were happy chappies except for one evil and bad man called The Chief Of Officers (Boo,... Boo...). The Chief of Officers would prowl the bridge of the ship looking for innocent, unsuspecting 3rd Officers and would chant under his breath, '' Fee, Fie, Foe Fum, I smell the Coffee Pot is on again !! ''.

Click to See the Evil Chief Of Officers, Dewi !

The Third Officer onboard was a handsome Prince from the Land of Winchester in the Far North near to where the Little People come from. Ralph was a happy little 3rd Officer who, like a child with a new toy for Christmas, was gaily playing every day at the tiller at his favourite game of 'Thump the Ice Pack'. He would chuckle to himself every watch and hadn't a care in the world until one day he was cornered on the Bridge by the Evil Chief Of Officers (Boo,... Boo...).

Click to enlarge Ralphpunsell !

The Watchman on duty, was a kind-hearted lowly sailor who passed his days watching for open water and penguins out of the window. Being the observant type (see later story on the Ivan Papanin), Watchman Wavey shouted out a warning to the Happy Ralph ... ' He's behind you,.. He's behind you ! ' but it was too late. The 3rd Officer was in the grasp of the Evil Chief Of Officers (Boo,... Boo...).

The Evil Chief Of Officers (Boo,... Boo...) then locked our Hero Ralph in the highest, loneliest tower on the ship ! Alone up there, Ralph was fed on a meagre diet of bread and water (diluted down with hamburger meat, and tea respectively), and forced to spend endless hours looking out and navigating the vessel through the endless fields of Ice. Was there no hero in sight to come to the rescue of our fair hero ??

Click on Image to Enlarge .

Yes. ( Hurrah )... the Watchman Wavey Davey came to his rescue. Whilst the Evil Chief Of Officers was asleep on the Bridge ( Not true, Not true, ) the Watchman Wavey went out to Monkey Island and shouted aloud to the captive 3rd Officer aloft, ' Ralphpunsell, Ralphpunsell, Let down your hair !!!' And the rest is history ! Ralph climbed down his own hair, was relieved at the turn of the watch by the 2nd of Officers and went with Watchman Wavey to the Mess to enjoy a jolly good meal. ... And they lived happily ever after ! ( Huzzah, Huzzah ! ).

But Children, whatever happened to the Evil Chief Of All Officers ??? Well, he is still around and waits around in Dark Places just waiting to jump out on those who are bad ( or on watch ). So if you want to get your Christmas Presents this year, remember to say your prayers, and be good, or the Evil Chief will get you !!


Wavey Davey’s Weekly Wit Spot.

Wavey Daveyhas resorted to plagiarism this week in an effort to entertain.

So without ado, here is the latest joke that Wavey has stolen ...

A motorist ran over a dog, and the poor distraught motorist called out a Veterinary for roadside assistance.

The Vet attended and pronounced the poor animal dead.

The poor distraught motorist was not happy that nothing could be done for the poor animal and called for

a 2nd opinion. The Vet agreed and ran over to his car. On returning, he brought a Siamese cat with him.

The cat circled and sniffed the dead animal and turning up it's nose sauntered back to the Vet's car.

'That's conclusive', said the Vet. 'It must be dead, or the cat would be away in a flash'.

'That's not conclusive' said the motorist. 'Is there nothing more you can do for the poor animal ?'.

The Vet nodded and ran over to his car. On returning, he brought a Labrador dog with him.

The dog circled and sniffed the dead animal and turning up it's nose sauntered back to the Vet's car.

'That's conclusive', said the Vet. 'It must be dead, or the dog would have reacted'.

The motorist reluctantly conceded and was going back to his own car when the Vet presented him

with a bill for £ 200.00. ' £ 200.00 ? ' exclaimed the motorist ?? What's the £ 200.00 for ???

'It's evident', said the Vet.

'That's what it costs these days for a Vet's attendance, the Cat scan and the Lab report ' !!



A merry Christmas to you and all our readers.

And now a Poetry Spot, sent in by one of our Readership. We thank Ron's Mum very much and like to say that we really appreciate the effort.


My son he went to sail the sea in a ship stacked full of cheer
To the layman that is tons of Vodka and a drop of beer
I will miss him of course but did not weep, nor did I wail
Because I know he keeps out o trouble once he sets sail!!

Well, I can dream, every Mum likes to think like that.
But then I read in the diary he’s with shifty “Postman Pat”
He gets up to some stuff and gets in a bit o a mess
My main concern is that I see him, but where is the cat Jess?

Then there’s Wavey Davey the joker he has a yarn to spout
Not forgetting Stevie B who has the diary to write out
There all this new lingo to learn when I log on to BAS
I think I’m getting the hang of it, maybe start a class

Tell me if I’m right but when the FIDS do GASH
Does it mean Guys peeling tatties for Mash
Now don’t forget to wrap up warm and keep your tootsies cosy
If it gets really cold ask a mate to give you a boussie

Hope this little verse brings a smile to your face
While you’re sailing the sea all over the place
Love you

Authoress : Ron's Mum.

The continuing adventures of PP.

by Wavey Davey

Postman Pat Part Four.

Last week, we left poor Postman Pat in the jaws of a furious crocodile. Will he be saved? Yes he will, his friend Pat the Penguin comes to the rescue and puts a ‘Frog in the Throat’ of the more-than-ever furiouscrocodile.

Click on All Images to Enlarge.

So PP escapes the ‘Jaws of Death’, he has not ‘croaked it’ yet.

Brrrring , Brrring.

PP phones home to tell every one he his safe, but how will he get home from the ‘High Handy’ mountains?

Choo, choo.

By train of course.

To be continued..


In this day and age of 'Makeover' Programmes on the Television, it is about time to turn an eye to our own home. Here is the first in a series of Home Improvement Ideas which we hope to bring to you in an effort to improve the Shackleton - if that is at all possible ?.

The RRS Ernest Shackleton is a wondrous vessel, built by the Norwegians in 1995, so she is now a 12-year old Lady. We'll have to get Rab (2nd Chef) to make her a Birthday Cake at the relevant week this year.

Although she is a wondrous ship, it only takes a little familiarity to see the 'chinks' in her 'armour', and you realise that our Sister Ship, The Polar Bjorn, has probably had all these bugs and glitches sorted out. Indeed, our countre-part has a moveable helideck (from the aft end to the fore) and an extra layer of Accommodation at the front of the ship. I believe she is another 20 metres in length which helps with our present 'pitching' tendency, and finally, she has rails around the entire Bridge Deck. And what is the value of that. ? That can be summed up in two words,... 'outside access'.

Click to Enlarge the Sistership 'Polar Bjorn' photographed in the North Sea this year.

Another great ship, the RRS James Clark Ross is a 'real ship'. She has 'Bridge Wings' which is the very evident limitation of the Shackleton. The doors can be left open and a cooling breeze allowed to blow across the bridge when crossing the tropics, where the Shackleton can only open two small ports on the extremities and hope to cool down sufficiently. And moreover, there is only one small access to the bridge front from the Bridge, so if you want to wash the windscreens or tend to those petulant windscreen wipers, it's onto your hands and knees, or become adept at LIMBO !

Click to See the Crawling MartinRowe Crawliesaurus !

I was fortunate enough to catch a very rare creature on camera this week. That would be the MartinRowe Crawliesaurus which is not normally indigenous to these waters. Indeed, this is the first trip down to Halley for Martin the A/B. Here we find him availing himself of our one-and-only egress from the Bridge to the outside windows, and if we only extended the opening another 6 feet in height, Martin might be able to use the door without having to resort to becoming a four-legged crawly thing !

Click to see the 'modified' Bridge Exit (complete with outside conservatory ! ).

PS. A note for Captain Marshall's Team : You may notice a few changes on the bridge on your return !!! ?


Wavey Davey is Vigilant !

On watch on Friday morning, there was the aforementioned 3rd Officer Ralph and A/B Wavey Davey in company with the ever-present Radio Officer Stevie b.

'There's a ship' said Davey.

'Yeah, Yeah,...' said Steve and Ralph. As if there would be a ship down here in the middle of the Weddell Sea, surrounded by Ice Floes and with only the British Halley Base, and the Argentinean Belgrano Base way ahead of us. Davey MUST be referring to yet another funny shaped Iceberg.

'No, there really is a ship', said the ever-vigilant Davey !

One quick look on the UAIS (Universal Automatic Identification System) confirmed there was a 'cheese' visible at 3nmile distance. The Cheese is a representation of a vessel showing course, speed and heading of any vessel in the area, and it also includes additional information such as Name, Callsign, Destination and Position.

Sure enough, the information gleaned indicated that a Russian Vessel, the 'Ivan Papanin' was 'Underway, using Engines' and whose destination was 'Antarcticida' ?

We watched the vessel from afar as we crept ever closer to her, and eventually went on the VHF radio to chat and pass mutual greetings with her.

Click to See the 'Wessel', The Ivan Papanin.

The Papanin was dropping off a shore party on the Fast Ice before proceeding back in a Northerly direction, and as she steamed by, she gave us a great photographic opportunity with the Ice Cliffs of Antarctica behind. Off she steamed, and as we travelled onwards, we could clearly see the Sno-cats and sledges of the newly deposited party on the Riiser-Larsenisen Ice Shelf. They were making their way onto the Continent and towards a Swedish Base called Wasa just inland.

Well spotted, Wavey Davey !

Forthcoming Events:Complete the passage through the Sea Ice to the Creeks of Halley and start the 2006/2007 Halley Relief.

Contributions This Week : Thanks to Wavey Davey and Ron's Mum for the great poem.

Diary No.6 will be prepared on Sunday 31st December for publication in the New Year 2007.

Merry Christmas to Vreni too.

Stevie B

Radio Officer.