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08 Jul - A well oiled machine

RRS Ernest Shackleton Diary

Position @ 1200: 57°26'North 001°23'East. Inside 500 m zone of the ETAP Montrose Platform.
Conditions: Wind ExN x 10 kts; Barometer 1002.2 mb; Air Temperature 16.3° C; Sea Temperature 15.3°C; Thick Fog with Visibility less than 100 metres.
Map of survey sites (located on the Montrose 115nm due East of Aberdeen).

RRS Ernest Shackleton had an uneventful week in the North Sea.   No icebergs, no station reliefs to effect, no ports-of-call, just work, work, work.  And yet the North Sea has its own particular appeal and once into the 'routine' is quite a 'comfortable' place to work.  I am not specifically talking about the weather - which has been excellent - but because it is easy to become familiar with your surroundings and what is expected of you.   The DPO's DPO, the ROV's ROV, the Cook's cook, and the rest of us just eat !!!  I suspect 'NOT EATING' is about the greatest challenge onboard at this time.
Everyday is pretty much the same:- the same duties, the same scenery, the same personnel onboard, and it is easy to become familiar with how the operation works.  Ernest Shackleton is a well-oiled machine !

Well oiled gears ! Everyday is pretty much the same:- the same duties, the same scenery, the same personnel onboard, and it is easy to become familiar with how the operation works.  The Ernest Shackleton is a well-oiled machine !

Last Sunday RRS Ernest Shackleton was alongside the semi-submersible Sedco 714 on the Machar field. Through the week we unceremoniously moved further eastwards to the Mungo Platform, the Monan Platform, the Marnock Platform for several days work, then back westwards to the Arbroath and Montrose Platforms.  In short, the track over the seabed this week, looks like one of our sojourns into the pack ice in the Weddell Sea, or a drunken spider crawling across the chart page.

The weather, as mentioned, has been exceptional all week.  The North Sea calls to mind images of gales and high seas, but not a bit of it.  The sea has been flat calm all week and even the boys painting on the Monkey Island reported getting a suntan as they worked.  The suntan amounted to a slight tinge of brown about the ears and the nose, because as you know, no-one is allowed out on deck without being fully kitted-up in full protective gear.  This is one drawback when one is trying to perfect one's all-over suntan !

Sun protection on the Shackleton ! Click to enlargeClick on image to enlarge the area exposed to ultra-violet rays ! The picture shows the 'Shackleton Factor 355 Sun Protection' !!

And Finally ...

The greatest thing on everyone's mind this week is looking forward to the middle of next week and 'handover'.  It is the big crew change day for BAS and a number of client and contractors onboard are due to go on leave.  Certainly for the BAS personnel who have now been onboard for 4 months, it is a case of 'the Channels' (*see below)

Handover notes are being prepared - where required - and others onboard have already started packing up and clearing their chattels from the cabin.  All the Antarctic and 'heavy weather' gear is being parcelled up in the Antarctic kit bags and returning to the 'cages' onboard.  The cages are just that.  We have number of cages in the hold specifically set aside for the storage of kit from the ship's complement.

*The Channels = Nautical terminology given to returning home after a long sea voyage.  Traditionally the feeling seafarers got as they entered the English Channel with only hours left before 'paying off' a vessel.

Forthcoming events. Continue working in the central North Sea in Scottish waters, and a one-day visit to Aberdeen on Thursday July 12.

North Sea Diary 09 will be written on 15 July 2001 and should be published on Monday 16 July 2001.


Weekly diary entries