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July 13 - The Shackleton is still alongside

Date: Sunday 13th July 2008

Position @ 1200 Local (BST+1): 57°08.7 North, 002°05.3 West. In the Aberdeen Harbour.
Next destination: Unknown at this time.
ETA: Unknown.
Distance to go: xxx nmiles.
Distance Traveled since Immingham this North Sea Season. : Unknown.

Current weather: Blue Skies with Few Cloud, Sunny and Bright.
Sea State: Calm alongside.
Wind : 19knots, Sou'Southeasterly Breeze.
Barometric pressure: 1008.9 Hpa
Air temperature: + 13.8°C
Sea temperature: + 11.4°C

Current position
Current position

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

For any of you who are keeping a beady eye upon the vessel's web camera you will see that the scenery has changed a little, .... but not a lot. We are still alongside in Aberdeen harbour but have moved from Regent's Quay to Duthie's Quay, to Russell's Quay. Aberdeen Harbour is a very busy harbour and there are a constant coming-and-going of vessels and shunting of berthed vessels to allow for various traffic movements.

Largely a ship move is a non-event, but occasionally it takes place at the most awkward of times. For example, a midnight vessel move on the Sunday night/Monday morning didn't actually happen until about 02.00am on the Monday 07th and it was about 04.10am before we were securely tied up alongside at the next Quay. It makes for a very long working day.

But why are we still sitting alongside in Aberdeen instead of being away at sea doing what we do best in the North Sea ?

Largely it is the scope of the mobilization for the next North Sea job which will involve 'trenching' offshore Peterhead in Scotland. Trenching is literally where a trench is produced for the installation of cables or pipes which are laid within and which are thereafter covered over to protect them from the elements, the currents, and debris.

'But what is a Trencher ?' as my father enquired of me this week ?

Trenching tool
Trenching tool

Our Trencher is like a giant tank that is designed to crawl slowly on the seabed below the vessel and dig a trench as it goes. Without seeing it in action I can only speculate on how it works but hopefully I'll be able to talk to one of the operators during the next week and discover what it is capable of. I may even coerce one of them into writing a quick précis about the Trencher for next week's web offering ?

It was only today (Sunday 13th) that the Trenching tool - the very last implement added to the vessel - was loaded onboard. Here are a couple of shots to show how the operation was accomplished.

Trenching tool being lifted onboard
Trenching tool being lifted onboard

Trenching tool onboard
Trenching tool onboard

But why has it been such a lengthy mobilization this time ? I think the next two shots say it all .

Empty decks - before
Empty decks - before

Busy decks - after
Busy decks - after

As you can see there is not much space left onboard and hardly enough place for the crew to stow their bicycles whilst we are alongside here in port !

Here are a couple more shots of the same 'busy-ness' on the decks

Busy decks
Busy decks

Busy decks
Busy decks


Wavey Davey has had two weeks to come out with some new and original jokes,... but since he hasn't come up with a new and original joke in the past 8 years, I guess it was a little optimistic to expect him to come up with something this week ?!

However, this week Davey has excelled himself on the 'not-coming-up-with-a-joke' front. I guess after 8 years of weekly offerings, I think we have finally exhausted his supply of (printable) jokes at last. Sad to say, but I suspect all good things come to an end,... and Wavey Davey's jokes too.

Therefore it is with great regret, that Wavey's regular feature will no longer be appearing - unless of course he comes out with a corker at any future date.

I would just like to add a personal note of thanks to Wavey for many titterings that he has given to us in the past and I hope you have equally enjoyed them all.

Thanks Wavey !


Life alongside continues in much the same way as it has for the last 2 weeks.

Although we are still alongside, there is a 24 hour a day regime of work which sees the Catering Staff cooking 4 meals every day ( Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Midnight Meal). Hands up all those who have braved all FOUR meals in one day ?!!! I, for one, can admit that I have avoided that particular downfall, but with all the snacks in-between meals, I can probably boast about 7 small meals a day ! Is it any wonder that the RRS Ernest Shackleton has such a reputation for it's good food ?

Apart from the on-going work, we are all still maximizing the opportunity to go ashore. There is a rush of new movies appearing at the cinemas ashore and we are lucky enough to only a short walk from two multi-screen complexes ashore. The town is only a short walk for shopping and I even heard of a Saturday evening venture to find 10 pin bowling last evening.

I apologise to Vreni who has heard this before, but a favourite song of mine from the shows is as follows : -

To lay aloft in a howling breeze,
May tickle a lands-men's taste,
But the happiest hour a Sailor sees,
Is when he's down in an inland town
With his nancy on his knees, yo-ho,
And his arm around her waist...

Mikado (W.S.Gilbert and A.Sullivan).

Now whilst I am not owning to having a 'nancy' ashore (stop tittering at the back there,...) I think it probably sums up the feelings of many a seafarer onboard. When we do finally get back out to sea, we can get back into the regular routine that is part of Maritime life, but I suspect everybody is quite happy to be able to stretch their legs on a daily basis - especially the ROV Pilots onboard who are lacking adequate piloting-duties during the day !

Apart from finding the pleasures of Cinemas and Inns and Restaurants ashore, there are simpler pleasures also to be found.

I myself have managed to go for a good stretch-of-the-legs on my bicycle and Wavey Davey managed to get out and about with his camera too.

A little bit of greenery
A little bit of greenery

Cactus House at Duthries Park here in Aberdeen
Cactus House at Duthries Park here in Aberdeen

Forthcoming Events: Completion of the Mobilization, preparing the vessel for sea and then to trials and to work Offshore Scotland.

Contributions This Week: Many thanks to Wavey Davey for his walks photographs.

The next North Sea Diary No.7 should be written on Sunday 20th July for publication on the Monday 21st - operations permitting.

Auf wiedersehen

Stevie B
Radio Officer.