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Nov 25 - Southern Hemisphere

Date: Sunday 25th November 2007

Position @ 1200 Local (GMT): 21°35.0 South, 006°19.3 East.
Next destination: Cape Town, South Africa.
ETA: Friday 30th November 2007.
Distance to go: 979.8 nmiles.
Distance Travelled since Immingham this Antarctic Season. : 6011.1 nmiles.

Current weather: Clear, Bright, Sunny, and Warm.
Sea State: Moderate Sea, Slight pitching but otherwise comfortable.
Wind : SouEasterly, 26 Knots.
Barometric pressure: 1015.6 Hpa
Air temperature: +20.2°C
Sea temperature: +18.7°C

Position Chart
Position Chart


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


THE SHACKLETON GOES FOR THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE.


Again, the webpage has been slightly delayed pending our arrival into Cape Town at the end of this week due to the plethora of jobs still left to do before we get there. The last of the planned maintenance, the handover notes, the BBQ's, the Crossing the Line Ceremony, the Oyster Clubs and the fun, fun, fun !! Okay, so the reality of it all is that laziness seems to have set in ?!!! That and having to await the articles promised to me by Hannah the Doctor ! ... watch this space ?

The Barbeques have been going on at regular intervals each weekend as we approached tropical temperatures. That can hardly account for last evening's BBQ where - although the temperature was fine - there was a rather brisk wind blowing across the decks... it's a shame that the photographs couldn't capture the firework display of floating sparks from the BBQ Grill as they drifted across the dark evening skies and out to sea....

But the biggest story to report this week was the Crossing of the Line that differentiates between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere and at 14.00 hours on Sunday 18th it was the turn of the RRS Ernest Shackleton to be visited by those nobles of the ocean,... King Neptune and his court.

King Neptune and Queen Nefratiti !
King Neptune and Queen Nefratiti !


THE CROSSING THE LINE.

It has been reported many times before from many many different ships, but that did not ease the anxieties of those 'first timer's onboard the Shackleton.

"Crossing the Line ceremonies are still performed on ships of the Royal Navy when they cross the Equator – but the elaborate, highly decorated certificates depicting Neptune and his Court (usually featuring plenty of mermaids, wearing very little) had their heyday in the middle of the last century.

The ceremonies are thought to be pagan in origin, and in their more rudimentary form were not even associated with the Equator – they were designed to assuage the fears of superstitious sailors, and would hopefully placate the gods who were presented with a sacrifice while the ship was on passage into the unknown".. (excerpt from the Navy News).

No matter how this silliness ever started, we all know how it was to concluded last Sunday afternoon... as always, with the victims being caught and given their just deserts.

It all started a long, long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away ... (oh, sorry. Wrong story !).

It started about 14.00 hours when an announcement informed the ship's complement that a Royal Barge had been sighted off the Port Bow and was converging upon the Shackleton as she was approaching the Equator. Capt.Dewi donned his Cap and went to the main deck to welcome the Royal Guests onboard.

The Master welcomes Neptune and his entourage
The Master welcomes Neptune and his entourage


Once the 'niceties' had been attended to, and Neptune and his Court conveyed to the makeshift 'courtroom' under the helideck, then the King of the Oceans despatched his minions to go in search of those who were guilty of plying his oceans without first making due deference to the Lord of the Seven Seas...

Those on the Accused List this year were :

the two Cadets, Bobby and Tom, the Doctor Hannah, and surprisingly - Ralph our 2nd Officer ! Would you believe that after 10 years of plying the oceans, it only now came to light that he had not paid his dues ???

Traditionally, we have had FID's and guests onboard whose ploy was to secrete themselves away in the dark recesses of the vessel and hope that Neptune would just 'go away'. This is a fruitless ploy because Neptune always gets his man ... or woman !

However, this year the accused all determined that 'strength lay in numbers' and they proceeded to formulate a plan of defence. The idea was to make a fortification of the front of the ship and defy the might of the Aquatic Royalty !

Bad idea, Chaps !

Bobby, Tom and Hannah in company with Jo, the 3rd Officer (who knew she was on the 'hit list' too) had made full preparations the night before and managed to have an arsenal of waterbombs to hand to repel boarders. The Front of the bridge is only accessible by a small trap door from the bridge (see proposals for a slight modification in December last year) or by an accommodation ladder up the front of the ship from the Focs'le. This was the ideal fortification for a defensive posture.

Jo makes the final preparations.
Jo makes the final preparations.


Bobby shows a 'brave face' in face of the enemy !
Bobby shows a 'brave face' in face of the enemy !


Shortly after 14.00 hours on Sunday, the mayhem began...

Unbeknown to the defenders holding out on the bridge front, the Oceanic Police ably led by Chris the Ch.Officer and Mike the 2nd Engineer had formulated a countre-plan. Scaling the ladders at the aft of the bridge, hoses were hoisted up on to the Monkey Island. From this elevated position, the 'police' had the high ground, and took the defenders by surprise.

The Battleplan.
The Battleplan.


With a torrent of fire hose water coming down from above, the Defenders were 'sheparded' into one corner of their fort whilst a double-front assault attacked from the Focs'le forward. More hoses to keep the Defenders away from their ammunition and finally the foot troops were sent up the forward ladder to vanquish the remains of the resistance... it was a foregone conclusion ! Although the First-timers had put up a noble resistance, it didn't stop the Ocean Police complete with 'batons' venting the full fury of Neptune on the defiant defenders and dragging them off to court to hear the charges against them... All good fun !

Defiant Defenders in Action - Hannah
Defiant Defenders in Action - Hannah


Defiant Defenders in Action- Tom and Bobby.
Defiant Defenders in Action- Tom and Bobby.


The equally Defiant Attackers. Constabulary Chris and Metropolitan Mike prepare for the final assault.
The equally Defiant Attackers. Constabulary Chris and Metropolitan Mike prepare for the final assault.


THE COURTROOM.

Who said Justice is Blind.... ?

With eyes fully open to the Defence Lawyers ( who ???...) it was Graham 'Off with their Heads' Barton who was sitting at the head of the bench as sober as a Judge ...

Graham sitting in Sobriety !
Graham sitting in Sobriety !


For the Plaintives, there was an unbiased jury of distant sea birds and silent fish ... For the Prosecution, there was Tyburns own Stevie 'Guilty or Not Guilty' B. An array of charges were laid out in front of the court and of course due consideration was given to each case before a judgement of GUILTY was nevertheless reached ...

Straight from the Old Bailey... the old costume, the old wig, and the same ol' Charges !!
Straight from the Old Bailey... the old costume, the old wig, and the same ol' Charges !!



Sitting in Judgement over the whole proceedings was Rab (Neptune) Shields and his gorgeous bride Russell (Nefratiti) Covey.
Sitting in Judgement over the whole proceedings was Rab (Neptune) Shields and his gorgeous bride Russell (Nefratiti) Covey.


The Master looks on from the safety of the Public Gallery.
The Master looks on from the safety of the Public Gallery.


TAKING YOUR MEDICINE.

Whatever defence was offered on behalf of the plaintives, obviously fell on deaf ears. Maybe Neptune and Nefratiti had their ears full of seaweed, I'm not sure, but the conclusion was not only 4 guilty parties, not 5 guilty parties, but eventually we had a whole host of accused, sentenced and condemned ! Ralph 'It wasn't Me' Stevens made a good show of running away at every turn, but was eventually taken prisoner and succumbed to justice and unfortunately so did Jo the 3rd, Gareth 4th Engineer, and even ( not so safe in the Gallery, is it ???? ) the Master himself !

Not the actions of a Lady, but Jo cannot take her medicine.
Not the actions of a Lady, but Jo cannot take her medicine.


... in the end, this is what it's all about:

Tom gets introduced to the 'Slops' !
Tom gets introduced to the 'Slops' !


This is only a very brief précis of the events of the day as archived by the Court Recorder, and I wish I could display the whole bunch of photographs that chronicle an afternoon full of fun and slops... but alas, these pages are only so big.

It was a day to be remembered by those who can now proudly show their 'crossing the line' Certificates...

... but if you think that will save you in the future, .... THINK AGAIN !

The Accused.  The Condemned...   THE GUILTY !
The Accused. The Condemned... THE GUILTY !


The Result ....
The Result ....


ONWARDS ...

Apart from all the fun of the last week(s), the work has continued afoot with painting, lubricating, greasing, and the all important arranging of flights. Yes, the Capt Harper crew is ready for some leave. Flights home from Cape Town - or alternatively flights home after a few days HOLIDAY in Cape Town have been arranged so everyone is looking forward to arriving in port later this week.

As for the web diary, there may be a 'parting shot' if time allows next weekend during the handover period, otherwise it's Goodbye for now from Capt Dewi and his crew and we will all be back in March after a good rest and a Christmas at home this year.

Forthcoming Events: Continue our passage to Cape Town. The Pilot is arranged for Friday Morning and the joining crew should be back onboard the Shackleton the following Sunday.

Contributions This Week : Grateful thanks this week go to Pauline 'Click Click Whirrr' Forward and Wavey Davey for proffering a whole host of photographs for me to choose from. Grateful thanks do NOT go to Doc Hannah for her article this week which miserably failed to materialise ! haha.

Antarctic Diary No.6 may be produced on Sunday 2nd December. To be Published on Monday 03rd December.

Stevie B
Radio Officer.