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Nov 11 - At Sea

Date: Sunday 11th November 2007

Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 29°00.8 North, 014°40.6 West. Off the Canary Islands..
Next destination: Cape Town, South Africa.
ETA: Friday 30th November 2007.
Distance to go: 4488.0 nmiles.
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 2502.9 nmiles.

Current weather: Overcast, Fine, Bright, Dry and Clear with lots of sunshine breaking through.
Sea State: Slight Sea, but very comfortable.
Wind : SouEasterly, 14 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1018.2 Hpa
Air temperature: +22.1°C
Sea temperature. +20.9°C

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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


The RRS Ernest Shackleton departed Immingham on time last Sunday afternoon as reported in last weeks webpage. Once clear of the Humber Estuary, and the Pilot was sent back to shore on the Pilot Boat, the vessel was 'Full Away On Passage' for Cape Town.

With one extra member of the ship's complement to deposit ashore, there was an additional call planned at VIGO in Spain. Ben was onboard to attend to the ship's computer network, and was only onboard for the first 4 days but apart from the slight halt off the coast of Spain, it has been a total 7 days at sea for the Crew of the Shackleton ... and very nice it has been too.

Reputed for being a really bad place to be in Autumn, the Biscay could not have been kinder to us. As we traversed the Bay to the West of France and the North of Spain, the weather remained pleasant, dry, and even cloudless at night allowing us some spectacular views of the stars now that we are free of the 'light pollution' of the shore. The deck team have even been monitoring the Holmes Comet which is visible to the naked eye in the evening skies at this time. ( click here for link HOLMES )


Sunday saw us depart the Humber and Monday and Tuesday were spent traversing the Vessel Traffic Separation Scheme (VTS) of the English Channel and finally into the Biscay on Wednesday. We deposited Ben on Thursday 8th at Vigo and pressed onwards for the rest of the week as the weather became warmer and warmer and 3rd Officer Jo proceeded nearer and nearer to breaking out the Shorts for the watch on the Bridge ! Now we KNOW we are getting towards the tropics.

Jo in the Tropical Rig.
Jo in the Tropical Rig.


One exciting new item to be added during the 2007 refit was a new Web camera for the Shackleton. The old eyeball camera on the bridge has seen some good service, but unfortunately it was bombarded by the full affront of UV Rays during the 24 hours a day sunshine of Antarctica. Therefore it was time to upgrade our Webcam and a new position has been found to optimise the viewing options when down South this next season.

The new camera is placed at the highest point of the ship and can now view the panorama from the vantage point of the Conning Tower. Whilst primarily pointing forward towards the ice-crunching bows, the Conning tower will allow a 360 degree aspect of anything of interest. Since all the action happens on the Starboard side in the North Sea and our present webcam is positioned on the Port Side of the Bridge, there have been many missed opportunities of seeing where the Shackleton was positioned in the world. But now we can arrange to point in any direction with a minimal amount of input from the ship's crew. Moreover, it is remote controlled from a computer on the bridge, so to a limited extent, we can pan and tilt the camera towards more interesting views as and when they appear.

Here is a series of shots that displays the panorama that we will now be able to stream across the web for those of you who are interested.

05 - The Panorama 1 - The Panorama  106 - The Panorama 2 - The Panorama 207 - The Panorama 3 - The Panorama 3

Click on the individual images to enlarge. There is nothing particular to see today, but when we get into the ice, up alongside the oilrigs or in port, there should be an hourly stream of panoramic images. Once successful trials have taken place on the Shackleton this season, perhaps similar cameras will be deployed on the James Clark Ross and the Bases.

But why can we not see these images now ? Well, that is where the 'jiggery-pokery' is required back in Cambridge, and they are writing the 'script' even now to automatically grab hourly images and display them on the relevant link on the website. Although not live at this time, as soon as the link becomes active, I will post the address in forthcoming editions.


Managing to get an all-over suntan when in the North Sea is a bit of an impossibility. Refer to earlier web entry.

But now that we are heading for the equator, and the 3rd Officer has officially broken out the Shorts, other legs are beginning to see the light of day. Here is Ron the A/b caught painting the handrails and sporting flecks of paint all over himself... And what a comparison to his earlier appearance where he had to be adorned in Boiler Suit, hard hat and safety specs at all times. At least our bodies are starting to get their fair share of Vitamin D at last !

Ronnie gets stuck in to the start of the Painting Program on Passage.
Ronnie gets stuck in to the start of the Painting Program on Passage.


As mentioned previously, our ship's complement has been boosted by the addition of two cadets, Tom and Bobby. Tom is the Deck Cadet and has been doing 'watches' on the bridge day and night and seems to be enjoying his duties to the full. This week I managed to capture Bobby the Engineering Cadet during a moment's downtime in the 'engineers coffee lounge'...

The Tea Break
The Tea Break

But unbeknown to him, Bobby HAS been spied being taken around the Engine Room by the 2nd Engineer and undergoing instruction and helping out in the planned maintenance. Handy things, these CCTV cameras onboard.

Big Brother is watching You... the engine room monitors.
Big Brother is watching You... the engine room monitors.

(We apologies for the quality of the picture, but you can never get a perfect photograph of a CRT display).


And so the Shackleton ploughs further South with the arrival date still unchanged at 30th November. Lots of Catching up on Planned Maintenance chores and writing of reports from the refit period is keeping the crew busy onboard. PLUS we had our first BBQ of the trip on Saturday night.


As you can see it was a grand affair, and for those Vegetarians amongst you out there, rest assured we were eating Veggie burgers,... and veggie sausages,.. and veggie chicken,... and veggie chops,... not to mention the odd Veggie 24oz steak (bloody, but not rare) !!! Surely there must be SOMETHING on the grill that would appeal to the Vegetarians onboard such as Hannah the Doctor, and would-you-believe, Ray our Chief Chef ?

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
 Either way, Hannah and the two Cadets, Tom and Bobby, seem to be enjoying their first Shackleton-experience of a Barbeque under the helideck !

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
 It was a good turn out and smiles were very much in evidence with (left to right) Paul the Lecky, Russell the Steward, Martin the AB, Stevie B the RadioOff and Ralph the 2nd Off. Shorts appeared to be the 'rig of the day'.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
 And now, not content with avoiding the webpages throughout the refit period, and keeping a low profile generally, Bobby manages to get into more photographs this week than anybody else... Well done, Bobby.



Forthcoming Events: Continue our passage to Cape Town, South Africa. Then it will be time for a relief of the crew onboard. Meanwhile, Charlie the Bosun is overseeing the ongoing painting program and by the time we arrive at our next port of call, the Shackleton will be looking very smart indeed.

Contributions This Week : Acknowledgements to Wavey Davey the BBQ official photographer for letting Bobby get in to lots of Photos.

Antarctic Diary No.6 should be produced on Sunday 18th November. To be Published on Monday 19th November.

Stevie B
Radio Officer.