Oct 21 - Still at Rest
Date: Sunday 21st October 2007
Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 50°48.5 North, 001°06.1 West. In Refit at Portsmouth.
Next destination: Immingham, UK to load.
ETA: Sometime in the Week beginning Monday 25th October 2007, to be confirmed.
Distance to go: 315.8 nmiles.
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 315.8 nmiles.
Current weather: Fine, Bright, Dry and Clear with lots of sunshine. A perfect day.
Sea State: Puddles. No Swell.
Wind: Southerly, 06 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1029.7 Hpa
Air temperature: +14.7°C which is surprising considering the warmth in the sun.
Sea temperature.: Still pretty dry under the keel.
Up to date position information is available courtesy of ‘sailwx/info’ taken from our Metrological Observations..
THE SHACKLETON STILL AT REST
It appears as if the web diaries are coming out every 2 weeks at the moment. Apologies for the late arrivals but with so much to be done in refit, the time between jobs seems to be frittered away with making the most of being alongside, in dock, and in Portsmouth. We are only a very small stone's throw from the Gunwharfs Quay which is a mall for some interesting shopping - and my particular favourite - the multiscreen cinema.
With fantastic food available onboard at all times, there is little inducement to want to go ashore and sample the delights of the local eateries but nevertheless, the occasional Indian or Chinese restaurant has to be visited, not to mention - I am sure - the occasional McDonalds ? It's all part of just getting away from the vessel and feeling the freedom from welding, grinding, chipping, painting, craning, scaffolding, inspections and all the other stuff that comprises ' a refit '.
Therefore, if the reports are not coming thick and fast, it is simply because we are too busy enjoying our leisure time 'doing it' rather than writing about it.
Refit is a time for all the major work to take place. For the James Clark Ross, it was a whole new suite of windows around the vessel. In our previous refits, it has been a new Telephone exchange, new Echo-sounder, new Sea-Temperature Sensor, and new Satellite systems too. This refit is no exception and on the bridge, we now have a shiny, new ECDIS system. The Ecdis is an acronym for Electronic Chart Display and Information System. Our original 'Seamap' was fitted when the vessel was built 12 years ago, so it was time to replace the old DOS system with an updated Windows Operating system. But first, how to remove the old system ? Simple. Just wave the magic wand and it was gone ...
Click on Images to Enlarge.
Now when we order these new systems, we are always assured that they are going to go into the same space as the old ones that are being replaced and of course the wiring will just be a five-minute affair and all will be well ... but then again we do not live in a perfect world.
Our Contractor for the job has an un-pronounceable first name, but is happy to answer to the name 'Matthew' or anything resembling it. And assuring us that the connections will all work, he sets about filling the hole left behind by the removal of the old Seamaps.
When it was measured, the 62cm console was found to be exactly the same width as the original one, yet one cannot help feeling that it looks a whole lot bigger all the same. With a bit of brute strength a lot of help from friends, the new console is mounted into place and the myriad of spaghetti is carefully connected to all the other bridge equipment. It is not simply a case of adding power and turning on the new machine as the tendency for today's shipping is to have an 'integrated bridge'.
The 'Integrated Bridge' is one where every piece of equipment talks to other pieces of equipment so position, heading, depth, wind direction and strength and maps, other shipping and anything navigational is all present on all equipment at all times... It really is an electronic wonder.
The 'electronic wonder', is that it is a wonder that it works at all ???
However, the equipment is finally in place, and talking electronic 'gobblydeegook' to all the other machines, and then comes the (possibly) harder process of learning how to 'drive' it. That is where Chris gets to grips with the manuals and starts to assimilate the knowledge he will need to get the best out of this electronic wizardry. '' One passage plan to Antarctica, coming up... ''
THE WORK GOES ON...
And so do the usual routines. Even though the ship is in refit, the monthly list of jobs keep churning out of our computer database. Check this, test that, monitor the other... It's never-ending.
One job for the Deck Department is the constant checking of the survival gear. God Forbid you should find a hole in your survival suit on the cold, stormy night when you need it ??? So the monthly check this week was ably assisted by Deck Cadet Tom Barratt who managed to model one of our many 'emersion suits' for us. Down in the Engine Department, Engineering Cadet Bobby Slater, is learning the joys of the regular 'planned maintenance' program. (sorry no photos yet of Bobby doing his work).
Tom models the very latest line in Survival Suits.
Tom and Bobby joined us during this Refit and will be sailing South with us as far as Cape Town.
This adds to their sea-time and gives them valuable experience before they return for their next spell at College.
And on a personal note, whilst in Refit in Portsmouth, we were surrounded by many many grey coloured-ships of the line... Or 'not-of-the-line' as the case would prove. And why ? Because in the inner basin, there are a plethora of ships that are unmanned and unused and 'mothballed' by the MOD awaiting a decision on whether to retain them or replace them. A bit of an 'elephant's graveyard' then.
One sample was my old ship, the 'RFA Brambleleaf'.
I joined the Brambleleaf some Twenty... (cough)(cough).. years ago ? and although I don't have my photos from those early days with me, ( ... 'Yes Ralph,... they DID have photography in those days ...), I do have some samples of when I met the Brambleleaf in Cyprus in the mid-90's. She looked a whole lot 'sunnier' in those days.
Now the Brambleleaf is sitting alongside in Portsmouth awaiting her fate. I was lucky enough to have a whistle-stop tour of the sleeping Brambleleaf arranged by DRSO (naval department). Many thanks to them for letting me look over my old vessel.
She was built in 1979 and I joined her in 1983. I remember the Brambleleaf doing the last deployment of the old Ark Royal (Aircraft Carrier) around the Mediterranean in that year. The Ark Royal was to be replaced by an all-singing, all-dancing new Aircraft Carrier called the Invincible, and HMS Invincible became “Flagship” for the Royal Navy and served with honours in the Falklands Conflict.
It's a sobering thought that one of those ships sitting in a low state of readiness in Portsmouth is the very same Invincible. Not only has the Brambleleaf out-lived the usefulness of the Carrier, but I have too ! Very sobering.
Alas, I will not be seeing the Brambleleaf again. As I looked out of the Bridge window across the once active tanker decks below, I suspected she will be de-commissioned in the very near future. It seems that ships like her and the RRS Bransfield, reach the end of their useful lives around 30.
Forthcoming Events: Finish the Refit and sail around to the River Humber to load up the Antarctic cargo for our forthcoming season.
Contributions This Week : Thanks to DRSO (Mod) for their kind invitation to overlook my old ship, and British Antarctic for the new 'toys' for the bridge.
Antarctic Diary No.4 should be produced on Sunday 28th October - Work permitting. To be Published on Monday 29th Oct.