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06 Oct - Arrival in Stanley

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Noon Position: 51.41.505 Deg S, 57.49.355 Deg W
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 7171.5 Nautical Miles
Days since leaving Grimsby: 26
Air temperature @ Noon today: 4.7°C
Sea temperature @ Noon today : 6.1°C
Weather: Good, East South East, Force 5

Coming home to the Falklands

Stanley bound

After a sea passage of 7,000 miles we have finally arrived in FIPASS, Stanley. We have all noticed a sharp change in the weather from warm and calm to cold, windy and rough. We have also picked up a large collection of seabirds following the ship (more later). For landlubbers such as I, it was nice to get my feet back on terra firma and a chance to stretch our legs. For 5 of the crew it was a chance to see family again in the Falkland Islands. It also meant we could enjoy the bright lights and excesses of Stanley for a couple of days and catch up with a few old friends. However, being in port brings with it cargo work and all hands were needed for the hard work of unloading all the Rothera-bound deck cargo (the new Bonner lab etc) and loading cargo for the next cruise to the South Georgia area. All 6 of the boats have been given a thorough workout around Stanley harbour to ensure they are all working and ship shape. We would also like to welcome a new gaggle of passengers and scientists who we will be travelling with us over the next few weeks. Special hello to Sue Dowling, who will be the new South Georgia doctor. Some will be dropped off at Bird Island to do their time (and pay their debt to society - Ed) there for 2½ years before the parole board lets them away. Others will be joining our cruise for around a month before flying home. We are currently (Sunday) docked in Stanley and hopefully will be leaving tomorrow (7th) once the final cargo of scientists is safely stowed.

First Aid finally finishes

Another highlight of the week was to finally bring to a close the first aid course. It culminated in a multiguess questionnaire and a little practical test for everyone. Situations included live casualties in scenarios such as; drowning in the Falklands, fur seal bites and hypothermia at Signy and people falling from the mast! All very realistic with the casualties prompted to scream in pain at the appropriate moments. Candidates demonstrated their knowledge of ABC, CPR, recovery position, log rolls and application of cervical collars amongst other skills. Everyone performed to a high standard and passed the exam. Congratulations! The swot of the class, who is now officially Miss First Aid 2002 (aka Nursey), was Jo Cox who came top in both sections of the exam. Well done Jo, I am now delighted to delegate all medical care on the ship to you for the next few months while I put my feet up (no change there then! - Ed).

Swot of the week
Swot of the week
Click to enlarge

Department of the week

This department has all sorts of interesting jobs to do from pointing the ship in the right direction, keeping it's paint gleaming, deciding where to go and staring out to sea for hours on end. Yes it's the Deck crew! They all got very excited this week as they discovered a new sea mount. This was a 2000 m high volcano on the sea bed that we happened to sail over on our way South. The echo sounder that monitors the depth of water that we are in shows it very clearly.....

Here is the echo sounder trace
The echo sounder trace
Click to enlarge

The sea bed is the flat line running along the bottom of the screen and the mount is the deviation from that line. The location and size of each sea mount will be reported to the Hydrographic office in the Admiralty and charts redrawn. There then starts a discussion as to the name of it with everyone even vaguely associated with it's discovery wanting a part of the action. 'Ramsden's Rise' was swiftly rejected I might add! Anyway I digress, the deckies consists of the following people..........(click on the images to enlarge them)

Captain Burgan - Click to enlarge

Captain Burgan in Jazz mood........

The Mate - Click to enlarge

Graham, the 1st mate watch keeping

Dave the 2nd mate gossiping - Click to enlarge

Dave 'the King', the 2nd mate giving important instructions (!?!)

Paul the second mate as we arrive in Stanley - Click to enlarge

Paul the 3rd mate doing a bit of deck work

The Bosun - Click to enlarge

Colin the bosun playing with his rope

Dave looking surprised - Click to enlarge

Dave, the bosuns mate, fixing the new work boat

Gorgeous George - Click to enlarge

'Gorgeous George', able seaman, and a mystery hand

Ian on his first trip South - Click to enlarge

Ian, a more than able seaman, doing a touch of painting in the tropics

Kelvin the King of Cool - Click to enlarge

Kelvin, the AB, painting another crane somewhere near Brazil

Kevin demonstrating his scouse smirk - Click to enlarge

Kevin, AB and token scouser

Nature Notes

The ship is being followed. Enthusiastic ship-following sea birds have been ever present over the last week and will remain so until next summer. I'll let you know the regular birds that are with us at the moment but can't show you any photos as the ship's digital camera will fail miserably to do them any justice.

Prions were known as 'whale birds' by the early seamen as they gathered in spectacular flocks around whales to feed on the plankton that were disturbed. They are small and light blue/grey colour. Prions fly low over the water, pedalling with their feet across the water while scooping up plankton prey. They have a sophisticated beak that then forces the water out through a comb-like sieve whilst catching their copepod food. There are several different types (Broad-billed prion, fairy prion) but they are difficult to tell apart whilst at sea. These are not habitual ship followers but we still see an abundance of them.

Petrels are superb and distinctive in flight and their name derives from the bird's appearance of 'walking on water' whilst flying, in a manner similar to St. Peter. They fly with a few stiff wing flaps then glide low over the water before gaining height again. The Southern Giant Petrel is a habitual ship follower that is known as a 'Stinker' due to the extremely smelly fish oil that it stores in it's stomach and will readily spit over 1 m towards any predators. They are scavengers and will feed on carrion in addition to fish and squid. They are brown or grey in colour and have a distinctive green tip to the beak. Pintado Petrels are smaller (90 cm wingspan) and are a distinctive black and white colour. These birds fly in the same fashion with a sequence of flaps followed by a low glide. Squid, krill and fish are taken during the day from the surface by a pecking action and hence it's alternative name, the Cape Pigeon. Silver-grey petrels and soft-plumaged petrels have also been seen. White-chinned petrels are larger with a 140 cm wingspan and a dash of white on the face and these bird either grab food from the surface or dive for it.

Black-browed Albatross - Click to enlarge
Black-browed Albatross
Click to enlarge

The most elegant bird must be the Black-browed albatross which, even though is has a wingspan of 240 cm, is still considered a 'small albatross'! Albatross have stout bodies with large heads, long necks and short tails. They have strikingly long and narrow wings. They are black and white in colour and have massive hooked bills. The Black-browed albatrosses effortlessly glide the waves around the ship, mainly off the aft end looking for squid in the wake. They do, however, soar alongside the ship and hang motionless by the bridge wings in the wind. They cannot fly if there is no wind and must wait, sitting on the water, for rougher weather. They are legendary birds and mariners have always respected their grace and majesty of flight in remote and storm ridden seas. Souls of drowned sailors are thought to be reincarnated in albatross and killing them is extremely bad luck. However large numbers are now killed on long-line fishing and floating plastic rubbish. We will be visiting Bird Island in the near future where they nest in large numbers and they are studied by BAS (more in the coming weeks). At the moment, just watching a few Black-browed albatross following the ship is mesmeric enough.

Thank-yous this week......

To Stanley for it's watering holes!

Coming up next week......

South Georgia!