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17 Nov - Montevideo - repairs in the sun

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Noon Position: 35.00.4 Deg S, 56.04.4 Deg W
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 10377.1 Nautical Miles
Air temperature @ Noon today: 28.1°C
Sea temperature @ Noon today : 19.7°C
Weather: Good, N, 2-3, 1001.8 mb


Montevideo and repairs in the sun

Hello again. Sorry for the long delay in the diary pages over recent weeks but is due to a complicated range of logistical, statistical and geographical reasons. This week I'll try and give you a two week bumper special with all the action.

For those have lost track of what is happening to the JCR at the moment, we are currently tied up in a very sunny Montevideo. The last diary entry came from Stanley where a cement box was being put in place over the hull damage to prepare the ship for its journey to Montevideo for a more permanent repair (last weeks diary). This was completed by 6th of November and we then departed for Uruguay. Fog and strong head winds meant plenty of pitching and a relatively slow passage to Montevideo. We arrived on 10th November in heavy rain as we negotiated the brown silty water of the River Plate estuary. Safely tied up alongside, the damage to the ship was assessed and plans made to remove the cement box and prepare the hull for the insertion of the new steel that will make up the permanent repair. Since arriving work has progressed and we are currently waiting on the special low temperature steel to arrive from Texas, USA before it can be welded into place. Here are a few pictures of the new window that has been created in the forward freezer and No.2 hold.

Creating the new hole - Click to enlarge The new hole created - Click to enlarge

As the welding is a specialist operation, the rest of the crew have had a chance to keep busy with some of the maintenance jobs that need doing around the ship such as painting the inside of lockers, painting cranes, painting the superstructure etc. If you stand still for long enough you'll probably have a couple of coats pretty soon!

Kev painting in the sun - Click to enlarge Newcastle 2 Saints 1 (Going down with the Mackems!) - Click to enlarge 'I can do this without looking' - Click to enlarge

Sorry to everyone back in Old Blighty who has been having some horrible weather lately. We are currently basking in sunny, hot days and topping up our suntans. With the average temperature of 28 degrees it certainly is not traditional Antarctic weather!! It makes a cool beer at the end of the day all the more sweet and consequently there has been a good turn out for sundowners. Games of cricket and football have been played on the aft deck, people disappear on bicycles to the beach to enjoy the fine evenings and even a hairdressing salon has been opened!

Few grey hairs there madam! - Click to enlarge Get this man to Australia!! - Click to enlarge Sundowners club convenes - Click to enlarge


Montevideo and Uruguay - a brief history

Early European interest in Uruguay was small as it had little gold and the local tribes held out with force; only the Spanish showed any interest after about 1580. In 1680 the Portuguese established a settlement in Colonia do Sacramento (60 miles West of Montevideo) in a key strategic move to counter the Spanish presence in Buenos Aires (only 1 hour away). In response, the Spanish founded a citadel at Montevideo in 1726. It then changed hands several times and was held by the British briefly in 1807. Montevideo declared independence from Buenos Aires in 1808 but was promptly invaded by Brazil, 3 years later. National hero, Jose Gervasio Artigas, rose in arms with support of Argentina and repelled the invaders. The next year, Argentina took Montevideo but were repelled by the Uruguayans lead by Artigas. The Portuguese then waded in and took over most of the country except Montevideo and a struggle lead by Artigas continued for 6 years against Brazil. In 1827, the '33 patriots' returned from exile in Paraguay to expel the Brazilians and with the help of the British managed to persuade the Argentineans and Brazilians to relinquish their territorial claims.

The country then plunged into a vicious civil war, political turmoil, dictatorship and intrigue only to emerge in 1903 with Jose Ordonez as president. He establish the first 'welfare state' in the world to distribute free medical services, old age and service pensions and unemployment pay. Education was free, capital punishment abolished along with the church. This enlightened policy was financed by the success of the cattle market, in particular meat extraction and refrigeration at Fray Bentos.

During the economic stagnation of the 1960's the Tupamaros urban guerrilla movement began and the government slid into a military dictatorship. The welfare state began to disintegrate, few benefited from their policies and 10% of the population emigrated and Montevideo started to sprout shanty towns (previously unheard of in this corner of the world). Following political and trade union repression in the late 70's the military government finally allowed 'free' elections in 1984 with a subsequent widespread political amnesty. The slow process of national economic and political reconstruction has been taking place ever since.

The countryside around Montevideo is low rolling plains, rich in potash, that sustains a grass of superior quality to even that of Argentina. The grasslands support a herd of 11 million cattle that is free from BSE and 'foot and mouth'. Meat export accounts for 10% of GDP but Uruguay is heavily dependant on the economic fortunes of its neighbours, Argentina and Brazil. With Argentina's recent defaulting on debt repayment and devaluations the Uruguayan economy is under extreme pressure. 85% of Uruguay's 3.2 million population live in cities and 50% in Montevideo. Life expectancy is 75 years and virtually all the population is descended from Spain or Italy.

Below are some photos taken whilst on a bicycle tour of Montevideo.

Local market - Click to enlarge Can you see the JCR? - Click to enlarge
Anyone for volleyball? - Click to enlarge Local cemetery - Click to enlarge


Champions League South American Style..........by Jo Cox

Last Tuesday a group of 8 of us headed off for an evening watching football. This was a whole new experience for me, as I have never been to a football match in my life, I know next to nothing about the game and to be honest I never had any interest in seeing a live match.

We were picked up from the ship and driven to the match, passing crowds of people streaming in from everywhere towards the stadium. When we arrived and entered the stadium I was amazed by the sheer scale of the place. The seating capacity is nearly 120,000, and by the time the match started the place was almost full.

The match was part of the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League, with the local Nacional team playing a team from Columbia. Sorry I can't give any more details, but its taken me a week to figure out that it was a team from Columbia and not Peru! The match was the second leg, with the scores standing at 2-1 to the Colombian team after the first leg. The atmosphere inside the stadium was incredible, with people of all ages joining in supporting the local team. There were flags and banners flying from everywhere, and almost any opportunity in the game was used as a reason to set off flares and fireworks.

The match got underway just after 2100, with the teams running out of inflatable tubes onto the pitch. It didn't take long for the first bit of action, with the local team getting the first goal. Unfortunately I was too busy watch a golf buggy carrying off an injured player, so I missed the first bit of action. The Colombian team drew level in the second half, and just to finish the match in style, the local team went 2-1 up in the 90th minute. The crowd then erupted into cheers which were heard back at the ship about 6 miles away.

There was then great confusion among the British fans as to whether there would be extra time as the teams were level on aggregate. The question was soon answered with the teams going straight into a penalty shoot out. The local team missed their first penalty, then just couldn't draw it back. So it was a very subdued crowd that left the stadium after an excellent evenings entertainment.

As for me; I don't think I'll ever become a football fan, but its an experience that Ill never forget and definitely one that Id recommend others to try!

It's not St James Park! - Click to enlarge


We've all got a new 'mate'

This week we have lost a most valued member of the JCR crew. Graham Chapman our 'Mate' flew back to the UK to be with his family for a few days before joining RRS Ernest Shackleton as Master. Graham has been Mate (Chief Officer) on the JCR for 5 years and been with BAS for over 10. Previous to that he had worked as Master on ships including the Tamar and Monsunen working out of the Falklands. Graham's professional attitude, humour, efficiency and friendship will be missed by all onboard and we wish him all the best with his new command. Take care and good luck Captain Chapman!

We also have the chance to welcome Dave Gooberman back to the JCR. Dave is the new Chief Officer and has been working on the JCR and Shackleton for the last few years. The change in staff gave us an excuse to get the crew assembled for a photo. Only Paul (3/O) is missing (someone had to take it!).

The crew - Click to enlarge


Coming up next week: Welding, painting, sun and more cricket!!

Alex Ramsden
Doctor