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30 Mar - Rothera is rubbish!!

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Noon Position: 67° 39.3 S, 68° 01.1 W)
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 29307.5 Nautical Miles
Air temperature @ Noon today: 3.9°C
Sea temperature @ Noon today : 0.7°C
Weather: Good, NW, 3/4, 1003.7

It's rubbish at Rothera!

This week saw the end of the science cruise JR84 as we left the ice around Pine Island and steamed east through the Bellinghausen Sea towards Rothera. After a series of Autosub missions at the beginning of the week, we finally managed to recover it one final time in the dark and tucked it back in it's snug little hutch on the back deck. The ship then ploughed straight into a storm near Peter 1st Island and we had a night of rolling around. At some stage we got up to a 32 degree roll and so spent the next day picking everything up off the floor and complaining about lack of sleep.

As this was effectively the end of the science during this cruise, Friday night saw the cruise dinner. Traditionally at the end of each science cruise there is a formal dinner and also (hopefully short - Ed) speeches from the Captain and principal scientist. It's a good chance to relax and chill out for the scientists and crew after a stressful cruise. JR84 may have failed to get to Pine Island Bay but achieved significant science on the ice edge and the Autosub team learnt a huge amount about their little yellow torpedo.

The sun shines out of Mark Brandon's.....?! Click to enlarge
Last Supper!
Click to enlarge

Born to swath

Arriving in Marguerite Bay the ship was buffeted by 40 knot northerly winds making it too dangerous to berth at the Biscoe Wharf, Rothera. There was nothing else to do but wait for the wind to drop which took 24 hours. So we busied ourselves in the only way we knew how, swathing. Yes, believe it or not there are one or two tiny corners of this well travelled bay that haven't been swathed at some stage and so off we went to find them. It was also a good chance test the swath bathymetry in a variety of conditions. Hence the chart looking like a bowl of spaghetti! See below for a picture of the swath image of the seabed in Marguerite Bay. It is an interesting sea floor as it has been marked and gouged by glaciers during the last ice age.

Turning for another swath run - Click to enlarge Swath of Marguerite Bay - Click to enlarge JCR's track is the pink line - Click to enlarge

Above: L-R: Turning for another swath run, the swath of Marguerite Bay and the JCR track (pink line). Click the images to enlarge them.

Royal Rubbish Ship James Clark Ross

When we finally came alongside at Rothera, in addition to the 12 Morrison's builders were we picking up we were also faced with 500 cubic metres of rubbish. It is the remains of the Bonner lab rebuild and also the detritus removed during the clean up of Fossil Bluff. We spent a cold 36 hours loading it all and lashing it all down. See below for some pictures.

Doctor and tally girl - Click to enlarge Dolly loading more rubbish skips - Click to enlarge More rubbish for No 1 hold - Click to enlarge

Most of it disappeared down No 1 hold but lots ended up on deck giving the JCR a look of scrap heap and certainly spoiling the look of our normally beautiful Royal Research Ship! It all had to be tightly lashed down with cables and cargo nets as it will be rolling it's way through the Drake Passage in a few days. See below for the new look JCR with prizes if you can spot any of the wooden deck!

7 containers on the bow - Click to enlarge Steptoe and son - Click to enlarge Bins lashing down cargo - Click to enlarge

JCR Post Office

One of the ways the British stake their claim to various bits of land around the world is to put a post office on them! The same applies in Antarctica and the British Antarctic Survey bases run their own post offices and issue their own stamps to base personnel, visiting ships and stamp collectors around the world. This philatelic phenomena visited the JCR this week when, Jane Nash, Rothera's doctor and incumbent post mistress opened her little store on the UIC room light table. On sale were postcards, stamps, first-day covers and you could even get the Rothera stamp in your passport. Predictably she was very busy selling and stamping anything that moved. All she needs a pair of half-moon specs and she would be looking just the part!

Post mistress - Click to enlarge I've been to Rothera - Click to enlarge UIC post office - Click to enlarge

When not shopping, sending postcards or lashing cargo, Rothera provided a chance to get off the ship and stretch our legs after over one month onboard. Some of went for walks around the point whilst others decided they missed circuits so much then ran round the runway. Some even got a bit carried away and decided to pretend to be seals.......all in the name of photographic excellence they would claim.....

Half man half seal - Click to enlarge The final result - Click to enlarge Mark avec brash ice - Click to enlarge

After all this rushing around at least we could enjoy a nice cup of tea in the JCR's new C2H5OH-free tea room.

Spot what's missing - Click to enlarge

Thankyou this week: to Jane and everyone at Rothera

Coming up next week: The Kodak gap, Jubany and back to Stanley

Alex Ramsden
Ships Doctor