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11 November 2001 - Bird Island

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Position at 1200: 60° 42'S, 45° 34.8'W - Signy Island, South Orkney Islands
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 13048 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 2.1°C; Sea temperature: 0.4°C

The week in brief..

A satellite photograph that caused us the major problems this week. Click to enlargeWhat a week it's been for all onboard, though it wasn't until the later stages that any work was accomplished. Most of the week was spent dodging the various weather system fronts that bombarded us, so preventing us from either finishing the Bird Island relief or completing the scientific programme. If you click on the image below you can see South Georgia marked giving an impression of weather from above.

If that does not seem much, then the pictures below were taken on Wednesday morning after we had to seek shelter in Rosita harbour, on the north side of South Georgia. Despite being in the shelter we were still buffeted with winds up to sixty knots off the land. So we were all very happy to be riding with both anchors out rather than being at sea. Click the images to enlarge.

A stormy day in Rosita harbour. Click to enlarge A stormy day in Rosita harbour. Click to enlarge

Le Sourire leaving Elsuhul bay in better weather. Click to enlargeThursday morning brought clearer weather and allowed us to sneak out and perform some of the science programme before closing on Bird Island with the hope of a lull on Friday - we always live in hope. However as we passed the northside of the island we were passed by a yacht leaving one of the bays and we thought we had a hard time in our "big" ship! They must be hardy souls on the French yacht "Le Sourire".

Friday morning gave us an early start as the weather offered us a window of opportunity which we grabbed with both hands, but more of that later.

We have ended the week Signy bound, and with any luck will arrive on Sunday. However as we will be busy working on opening the base and landing the supplies the opportunity to mention it this week will have to be foregone and we're afraid you'll just have to wait for the next installment (or epic - your guess is as good as ours) to find out.

A Week of Bird Island and surrounding Environs

The relief at Bird Island is always one which causes most trepidation with both the vessels of BAS as it usually proves to be notoriously difficult. This year was no exception - one and a half days of relief actually took a week. So Why ? Well it's mainly down to the prevailing swell driving into the bay where we anchor - the base is in a tiny cove so cargo's taken ashore using our boats. The swell predominately drives up into the bay which makes loading our cargo tender impossible or at the best very dangerous if it is large. So we play the game, the Bird Island game : Pop in for a look in the bay, have a look at the swell - if it's too large to work cargo then either anchor off, or if the swell is too great go and standby in the shelter of various islands, or anchor in a sheltered bay. Which is why this took a week. Not to mention one horrendous storm in the middle of it all.

The tender crane discharging fuel drums. Click to enlarge Moving the fuel drums to the base. Click to enlarge

The major task left for Friday was the 110 drums of fuel that the base requires. These are pictured above being craned from the tender onto the jetty and then rolled up to the base for use. The snow and the flag might give an indication that the conditions were not always perfect during this period.

Throughout, the local inhabitants were of two dispositions either; that of interested (below left) or just bored by the whole thing (below right) having seen it so many times before.

Who's watching who?. Click to enlarge Watching all this work is just too exhausting ! Click to enlarge

To end the base relief section for this week we thought we'd show you the happy faces of the Bird Island human inhabitants and those doing the summer. They are from left to right: Mark Jessopp, Maggie Annat, Jane Tanton, Dafydd Roberts, Ben Phalan, Jon Green, Nick Warren & John Newman

The Bird Island Summer team. Click to enlarge The Bird Island Gang. Click to enlarge.

Men of the week

We thought we'd show you two of the bridge team in their other attire worn when they are not in uniform navigating the vessel. On the left we have Robert Paterson our Chief Officer, the faint smile is probably relief as this was taken on the final run back to the ship from Bird Island; then on the right we have David Gooberman (2nd Officer) who's never happier than when he's in a rubber boat. We were going to include the Captain in this slot, but didn't manage to stop him from pacing the bridge over the last week muttering about the weather to get a shot, but better luck next time.

Robert 'the Mate' in cargo mode. Click to enlarge David, just happy messing around in boats!. Click to enlarge

Click on an image to enlarge.

Before anyone complains that the Engineers were not mentioned again... well as far as we could see they were never off "Stand-by" long enough to have a picture taken, but who knows with nearly half the voyage to go we might just manage to include them.


For anyone who missed it YES, Lawrence did get his ladle and bowl back from Bird Island.....