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28 April 2002 - Goodbye from Captain Burgan's Crew

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Position at 1200: 55° 46.7'S, 54° 55.3'W - 236 NMiles South of the Falklands
Distance steamed since we left Stanley: 9124 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 2.6°C; Sea temperature: 2.2°C
Weather : Overcast and mostly fine and clear with occasional thick fog patches. Wind south west force 4. Slight sea and low south easterly swell.

Current, frequent weather observations reported back to BAS Headquarters in Cambridge is used to plot the ship's current position and recent track. Meteorological data are also available from this page. The callsign of RRS James Clark Ross is ZDLP.

We're going home......

Yes this is to be the last weekly update from us for this trip, we have completed our four month tour of duty and are now off home to spend the summer 'mowing the lawn' in neat swath-like patterns!! Well sitting on the lawn at least, grass? I think we will have forgotten what it looks like!

As you are reading this we are nearly back in Stanley at the end of the current cruise, as you can see from the total miles steamed from Stanley at the top of this page, we have done an awful lot of swath survey, see Lyndsay (PSO) comments below.

Some images from this trip.....they are also scattered throughout this update.

WOW, nice cloud. Stromness Jan 02. (By Doug Bone) Click to enlarge Luke in the RIB. Click to enlarge
JCR at Stromness. Click to enlarge JCR at Biscoe Wharf, Rothera. Click to enlarge

Above: Clockwise from top left: Cloud formation near Stromness, Luke in the RIB, JCR at Rothera and JCR at Stromness. Click on the images to enlarge them.

Dartcom image of the week....

Two depressions....Perfect storm? Click to enlarge

PSO's Comment......Forty days and forty nights (....we gave up our sanity, by the way)
By Lyndsay Parson. Principal Scientific Officer

Piston coring in the Weddell sea. Click to enlargeAt the good end of a swath bathymetry mapping enduro, all on board the JCR for cruise JR73 should be heartily congratulated for getting a job done well, both as regards being on time and bringing back some excellent results. Non-stop (well, almost non-stop in our case) geophysical surveying is never the most riveting way to spend one's time, but the results are ultimately impressive when viewed as a finished product. The statistics in themselves are breath-taking . We have achieved something like 40 million seafloor soundings in making our maps, and in doing so, covered a total of 150-160 thousand square kilometres of the Antarctic seabed to an accuracy of 20-30 metres!

Being operational towards the end of the southern season was always going to present a risk of bad weather for us, but only once did it keep us from working ? and that was only for a day or so. The multibeam system on the JCR stood up well to heavy seas for a lot of the time, and still delivered satisfactory data.

On a less technical slant, the science party ( Antarctic first timers to a man/woman) were introduced to icebergs, whales and albatrosses, as well as the region's interesting meteorological fluctuations affording us belting sunshine one moment and snow drifting on the afterdeck the next. A memorable calm evening sunset even blessed a sizeable group of watchers with a glimpse of the fabled "green flash". As far as recreation goes, the gym and sauna saw quite a lot of traffic , and motor sport enthusiasts were at least partially sated by the availability of a sizeable Scalextric track which occupied one of the (otherwise unused) labs. In fact, the set remains on the ship, intriguingly marked up as "electrical spares", should any armchair Schumachers take to the seas in her in the future. Good luck with the bend in the track over the sink, by the way!

Johnnies Diary: Part Toooo........and so we sailed....

The trip from Monte to the Western Core Box was a useful opportunity to test out the various scientific instruments, bits of kit....and....stuff. Many interesting specimens were gathered up in both the bongo nets and the krill net, including Mick-The-Fid and later on, Fighter-Plankton, which I haven’t been able to look up subsequently, (someone must be having a laugh).

Onwards rode the fifty or so, in a sterling re-enactment of Groundhog Day in a maritime setting. A favourite game on the ship is “Guess the day”, where you have to, you guessed it, guess the day. Ask most of the scientific complement what day it is on most cruises and they will say something like “Its Jday 107”. This is because some of the data gathering is logged in Julian (J) days, and Unix likes Jdays, though no-one else does. Apparently Unix is user friendly, it's just very choosy about it's friends. Presumably this means most its friends speak Latin, and other dead languages, as well.

Back to the game.....You’re not allowed to look at watches, calendars or the newssheet in the lounge. Usually given five or ten minutes, and perhaps a little conferring you can puzzle it out by working back to the last “March of the Unemployed”, or when we had fish for lunch! so there’s no prizes.

Many, many CTD’s were done.....CTD’s involve sitting in the one place for perhaps a couple of hours, depending on the depth the CTD was being sent down to. This was usually a source of amusement as the watch leader / PSO would negotiate with the bridge on when was a safe time to stop and drop one, (so to speak). There were lots of icebergs around.

Often it was as interesting to stand in the wheelhouse and observe the Officer on Watch twitch as a berg sat off the Starboard bow. Bergs are picked out on radar and charted, their projected course plotted and a safe route picked through any bergs in the area, so the bridge crew were never too amused when a berg changed its mind and “went into heat-seeking mode” as the C/O Graham would put it. Bergs can detect when CTD’s are being lowered and can alter course accordingly, ask Graham!

The nightshift would occasionally create polystyrene thimbles (see previous pages) as souveniers for family and friends, or rather, to calculate depth and pressure. Breezeblocks and lead weights would be kept at the ready just in case, this time, the damn thing refused to sink. As the nightshift transformed cups into thimbles, Nathan would transform himself into a blur that muttered “When I were P.S.O....”. As Data Manager there was an awful lot of data to manage.

A very nice sandy beach in the Falklands. Click to enlargeOK, OK so this isn't the Antarctic but we do go to the Falklands a lot and so should have some more pics perhaps!

The nightshift also managed to detonate the biggest window in the winch control room early one morning with the aid of a short circuit apparently. Methinks it called upon itself the “Wrath of Sha’Ron” in the early hours by not showing a picture of sunshine and beaches, and was not the product of a short circuit in the heating element. On saying that, I may have called upon myself “The Wrath of Sha’Ron”, who is bigger than me, so I will depart this line of conversation post haste, and move to safer water.

Geraint , Kate and Rachael attempted to teach me how to launch and retrieve the krill nets, something I was embarrassingly poor at. No one bothering to even mutter “you big girl” under their breath cos the girls were hauling in them with no bother at all, and they wouldn’t take kindly to that.

Icebergs and Albatrosses abounded during the cruise, both of which I had a particular fondness of photographing. I have many blurred photographs of both. Albatrosses are particulary nice, as they glide and soar round the ship, occasionally twitching their wings to steer, but generally only flapping to get off the sea. I got so used to seeing albatrosses the first time I saw a seagull back on shore I thought it was an albatross having a fit, and out of genuine concern laughed myself into a stupour.

South Georgia

South Georgia abounded with wildlife, (see Matts recollections in an earlier page for perhaps a less meandering and more factual account). The approach was spectacular, massive mountains framing the abandoned whaling station at Stromness, whilst the shores were littered with hundreds of fur seals and more than a few Elephant seals.

If you think Penguins look like waiters, up close fur seals are bar stewards. Ferocious little beasts, they will go for you, if you are closer than 20 feet or so, or just if they feel like it. We watched a baby Fur Seal head-butt a 10 ft long Elephant Seal, who lucky for it didn’t wake up. Very, very good swimmers though, and pretty quick on land.

The sun shone upon us and the wind was at our backs as we walked to Shackelton's falls, interrupted only by short sprints and hat waving as Skua’s dive-bombed us, protecting some nests hiding in the tussock grass. At Shack’s falls we basked in the sunshine as a lone penguin moulted. We took pictures next to it and it never took a blind of notice. Wandering back, we passed some Penguin colonies. Amazing places, if you ever think of approaching one however, don’t do it – you know it makes scents!!

Ice on the rocky shore. Click to enlarge My wander back to the ship was interrupted when perhaps a hundred yards or so from the shore I found myself on a mud flat. In front of me some fur seals were waiting in ambush. Whilst pondering whether I should backtrack a gentoo slap-slapped its way across the mud, stopping by my side. Cocking its head sideways it looked at me for a second, we both wondered how stupid the other was, and it continued on its way. As I watched the Penguin wander off I noticed I had been outflanked also. Fur seals, having often tasted BAS personnel, obviously like the taste. My only choice other than climb a small hill and backtrack was to leg it and hope I didn’t tread on a fur-seal, which wouldn’t make my day.

Leg it I did, yelling “ship folk, ship folk....”, looking everywhere at once and running practically sideways at times. A couple of course corrections were needed when after running away from one furry you would find yourself running directly towards another smiling face...Have the Scottish Rugby team practice among the furrys – they’d never lose again....Not a game anyway, fingers, toes and perhaps the odd arm during the training season - no pain no game!

RBLT’s are not the best things to sprint from furry’s in, and neither are blue moleskin trousers. The brown moleskin trousers I have now are far better. Before conclusions are drawn – my blue ones shrunk. Honest.

I also saw Santa’s Reindeer, or so Paul the 3rd Officer informs me, which reminds me... (Eds note; this is true! Santas reindeer have antlers, and as they lose their antlers in the winter...and Lapland is in the Northern Hemisphere....then SG must be where he keeps them. You prove us wrong......!!)

Dear Santa,
This year I would like a nice warm coat…..
And a hat.

Back on the ship that night, it was “Spot the idiot who didn’t put on sun-cream”, of which I was one. Over the course of the next 2 days my face fell off. It's best not to admit to people in a bar that you have a sore face, you won't meet any sympathy. Just put up with the laughing and pointing and try not to smile too much, if nothing else the pain will put a straight face back on you. Onwards we sailed, for almost a month through rain and shine, fog and hoolie.

It's right about now that I ran out of steam and enthusiasm, and started to think about how best to finish off my disjointed, badly written meanderings. And now, the end is near...

Soon be home time, JR73 comes to an end on Wednesday 1 May, when the JCR docks in FIPASS and the crew abandon the ship to the care of Captain Elliott’s crew. JR70, Montevideo, Stromness and even the start of JR73 seem a long time ago.


  • Be nice to galley staff, or be rude and hungry.
  • Don’t eat every course at every meal unless you want a Greenpeace escort and some Japanese or Norwegian stalkers
  • Never, ever fall asleep in the bar, if you see anyone with a marker pen, drink more gin to stay awake.
  • Use the long weight to help get the spur-lash
  • If it moves photograph it
  • If it doesn’t - photograph it twice
  • During rough weather sit down to put your socks, keks, trousers etc on unless you can skate on one leg
  • Fur seals are not smiling at you, don’t try and cuddle one of the cute furry animals if you like your face where it is. Nature is not red in tooth and claw for nothing.
  • Penguins are top
  • No, really, penguins are great
  • Chances are you will never find everything in your cabin that rattles, creaks and makes the odd tapping noise at the wrong point of a roll. You will get used to it, and when you get home you will be unable to sleep properly for weeks because itis too quiet and the earth ain't moving. If it is, then I hazard a guess that you will sleep very soundly.....
  • Never write too much text for the web page with no pics.....(Maybe I added this one, sorry Johnnie. Ed)

Apologies: Angus the fifth element in the Monte mayhem, and partner in pyrotechnics to Luke. I can’t think why my memory of New Years Eve in Monte is hazy....musta been the heat......

Thanks: To Captain Burgan, The Officers and crew, and fellow inmates of JR70 and JR73, it’s been fun.......

Johnnie of the JCR, April 2002.

Captains comment.......by Captain Jerry Burgan

All being well, in two day's time we will return to Stanley from the desert, on completion of the third successive forty-day cruise. There has been much variety in the cruises, and all have been very busy and demanding for all hands. I would hope that all of you in the outside world - wherever you may be - might have found interest in at least some of our activities during this period, through the web pages that Paul Clarke (3/O) has given so much of his time to compile; my personal thanks to him for his excellent work. My thanks also to every member of the ship's company on the JCR for their considerable and valued efforts throughout. Each of the three cruises has been very successful in its outcome. It is certainly the case that the ship has many capabililties, but these would be of no account without the hands who work her, and without the work to do in the first place! So, well done all - and I look forward to sailing with you all next time. To all of the Science and Technical Support groups (both from outside BAS and within) with whom we have worked during this period - it has been a pleasure, and we look forward to your return.

I'll take a big chance on the RAF and now say a hearty "Welcome" to Capt. Chris Elliott and his Team, who will take over command of the JCR on the afternoon of Wednesday 1st May. Very good indeed (!) to see you chaps; we wish you well, and fair sailing for the next four months.


Paul the 3/O and web editor. Click to enlargeThe thankyous this week are covering a bit more than the people who have contributed this week as I am not going to be writing the web page any more next trip. Therefore I would like to say thankyou very much to all of the people who have contributed over the last couple of trips while I have been doing it. Whether it is text, photos or graphics it would not have been possible without you. Also this week to Captain Burgan, Johnnie, Lyndsay and Steve for text and pics.
Paul Clarke 3/O

Coming up next week.....

Shopping, eating curry, going to the pub, watching Southampton beat Newcastle at St Marys.......oh sorry no not us! Captain Elliots team will be sailing towards South Georgia for the last bit of science before the ship heads North, and Simon will be 'Wrighting' the web page to his normal high standard, we will look forward to reading them.

From all of us in Captain Burgans team, goodbye, and we will see you in four months time.