09 December 2001 - Rothera and Pack Ice
RRS James Clark Ross Diary
Position at 1200: 67°49' South, 69°02' West
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 15959 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 0.2°C; Sea temperature: 0.1°C
The Week in Brief....
When we last spoke we were in the pack ice waiting for it to loosen and so allow our journey to continue. Some of you might be thinking here we go again after taking five weeks to reach Rothera two years ago, but you'd be wrong. That is because our entry to Rothera became possible on Tuesday afternoon as light winds allowed the ice to relax just enough to let us through. We arrived at the station around seven o'clock in the evening and started the discharge first thing on the Wednesday morning, having it all completed by early Friday afternoon. The picture here shows RRS James Clark Ross alongside Biscoe Wharf, Rothera in a stiff breeze.
Unfortunately for us, during Thursday and Friday the wind had increased causing concerns to rise regarding how much the ice might have compacted again and so how easy would it be for us to get out again? Therefore it was decided to sail on Saturday morning with the hope of improvement in the weather. This was not to be. In fact it got worse, with driving snow and strong winds producing problems for all, you might get an impression by looking at the flags in the picture above. Sailing was therefore delayed until 0700 hours this morning (Sunday) as the weather forecaster on base predicted light winds and he was right, so we sailed out onto a calm sea, experiencing for the rest of the day a mixture of bright sunshine, snow and cloud.
Initially we made good progress into the pack ice, you can see the bow breaking ice in the clip here. But it did not last and the afternoon was spent attempting various routes without success. We are this evening "parked" in the pack hoping for the winds to remain low and allow the ice to relax even further to aid our escape, maybe even tomorrow....
Tune in next week to find out what happens, but until then more information and pictures of our week.....
The Day Job
As ever at this time of year the main point of our call to Rothera is the resupply of the station after the winter. Though people have been moving through the station and out into field for over a month now by the aircraft based here, any cargo not immediately needed comes via the ships. This year included such exciting things as lots of cement and materials for a new sewage plant and lots of things in big boxes with strange sounding names that we hope someone knows about. That is in addition to the usual food, fuel and other necessities of life in the Antarctic. The picture here is looking down into No.2 lower hold as George Stewart (Bosun) leads the search for Box 111. This box contained some equipment that we might be required to drop off at Palmer station on our way north as the final part of the equipment required by the scientist who has moved her science there after the demise of the Bonner lab. Needless to say this was packed in the hold long before the fire that destroyed the lab and could not be found before our last Palmer call. Typically it was one of the last five boxes to be accessed after two days of work discharging the ship.
The crews favourite piece of cargo was the new forklift truck destined for the air unit, which was put to very good use in both holds before it was handed over to its new owners much to the distress of the deck crew. Below we can see it at work in No.1 hold making life much easier even if a little tight in places requiring John McGowan to keep a very close eye on his manoeuvring.
A Spot of Relaxation
With the cargo completed and the conditions not conducive to sailing there was a couple of hours for everyone, who wanted, to enjoy some winter sports put on by the station staff, which was much appreciated. In the pictures below we have David Gooberman (2nd Officer) sitting down on the job once more as he tries to remember his snowboarding techniques (top left) along with ski lifts Rothera style (top right). However, after several weeks at sea it can all get too much and so we have Gerry Armour (3rd Engineer) and Mark Robinshaw (Motorman) sitting down on the "job". Finally we have in the bottom right we have David Gooberman, always one for his toys, indulging in a spot of kite flying and hopefully you can make out the green kite when you enlarge the image. However, we have retained the images of the kite taking David for a "walk" for use in a future addition - maybe comic moments of the trip.
As ever at Rothera a popular activity is a walk round the point that the station sits on. Generally there are some seals and penguins around to watch for a while, forever aided by 24 hour daylight at this time of year. With this in mind, we felt we should include some cute shots for this week. Starting off with Dave Rees' (AB) entry, below left, which must have taking some waiting for and then the dozing on the snow pose, below right, - both being of Weddell seals.
Though comic of the week has to go, as ever, to the Adelie penguins and their confused actions when ever they see anyone no matter how far away, so we've include a short clip of a tobogganing penguin.
As ever the week has had it's fair share of varying weather to match the dramatic landscape we find ourselves in at the moment. Whilst out on the ski slopes this dramatic picture (below left) of the snow on the slopes was taken by Bill Kerswell (2nd Engineer), showing the snow being whipped away by the wind to be deposited elsewhere. While those who stayed up until after midnight might be treated to some dramatic sun pictures as show below right. We cannot say "sunset" as it doesn't, but this is about as low it would get before starting to climb once more on a new day.
Man Of The Week
Could we resist making Steve Eadie, our 4th Engineer, our man of the week for his adventures on his bike to the station and back dressed for action in boilersuit and safety hat? Here he is setting new fashion standards for mountain biking at Rothera.