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20 Apr - Mowing the lawn

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Noon Position: 50° 01.4 S, 53° 47.4 W)
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 33506.5 Nautical Miles
Air temperature @ Noon today: 7.3°C
Sea temperature @ Noon today : 6.5°C
Weather: Moderate, SE, 8, 979.5

Mowing the lawn

During the previous seven months of this season we have probably had three days that one would consider as 'rough'. We have probably exceeded that total in the last week alone.  The reason is a large low pressure system that has unfortunately settled over the JCR, whipping up the seas in a large swell.  Below are a couple of images that show the weather system above us.  First is the Dartcom satellite image showing the clouds being whipped round into an anticlockwise circle as we slowly plunged back towards Stanley on Sunday evening.  Second is the pressure chart showing the isobars in the South Atlantic.  The closer the isobars are together the stronger the wind.  The small flags point the direction of the wind and the number of bars on each arrow represent the wind speed.

Weather chart - Click to enlarge Weather chart - Click to enlarge

What does it mean?  It means we have a few sleepless nights as the ship rolls and pitches in the heavy seas.  We end up with lots of broken glasses in the bar.  The galley is decimated by utensils and food flying around.  Papers end up on the floor.  Chairs move around with you sitting in them.   Any work becomes a struggle.  Everyone becomes tired and irritable.  People are physically tired from constantly fighting to keep your posture even when sitting or lying down not to mention lack of sleep.  The swath doesn't work when it gets really rough so science stops.  We alter course to minimize any rolling and keep steering into the storm to make the ship pitch rather than roll.  The picture below doesn't do the storm any justice but gives an idea of how dark and how much the ship is pitching.   Everyone is looking forward to getting back to Stanley tomorrow to have a rest.

JCR in a storm - Click to enlarge
Onboard the JCR in a storm
Click to enlarge

The engineers new clothes

These are strange times down in the engineering control room.  The motor men have been seen modelling the latest fashion in survival suits.  Are they worried about the stormy weather and are preparing for the worst or are they preparing for a fancy dress party?  Are they a new style of insulated boiler suit with built in gloves?  Charlie and Mark were clearly enjoying their dressing up and also provided much amusement to the rest of the engineers.  Our BAS fashion advisors pointed out that the suits clashed badly with the low impact pea green control room.  Time to repaint?

Engineers in survival suits - Click to enlarge Engineers in survival suits - Click to enlarge

The science team departs

Tomorrow we say goodbye to the scientists from our current cruise.  PSO, Lindsay Parson, and his team have spent a couple of weeks surveying the seabed using the JCR's swath bathymetry.  Lindsay and Jez study their charts below and with the rest of the team on the aft deck.  Right to left, Johnny, Steve, Sophie, Lindsay, Rose, Doug, Alan and Jez. Click the images to enlarge them.

Lindsay and Jez study charts - Click to enlarge The team - Click to enlarge

The cruise has apparently been very successful despite all the bad weather that they brought with them.  (Sailors are a very superstitious bunch and if they can blame misfortune on someone or something they will.  Whistling is frowned upon on the ship as this is thought to 'whistle up the wind'.  Good in the doldrums but not in the Drake Passage!  Clearly this is based on well designed double blinded randomized controlled trials run by sailors in the 18th century as they went round Cape Horn.  Was one of Lindsay's team a secret whistler!?!)

Hot Cross Buns

This weekend being Easter and all that, one of the FIDs decided to get into the spirit of the occasion with a festive haircut.  Speculation abounds whether he is

a    trying to communicate with aliens,
b    wants a saltaire on his head but can't find blue hair dye in Stanley,
c    part of a religious sect that believes in deliverance through human sized games of noughts and crosses
d    the victim of a practical joke
e    trying to plead insanity and be sectioned back to the UK,
f     protesting that the ships hot buns were not crossed!

Nice Hair! Click to enlarge

Answers on a postcard as to who the mystery man is and why!

Thankyou this week: to Richard and everyone in the galley for all their hard work in difficult circumstances.

Coming up next week: Stanley tomorrow until Wednesday then back out for more science

Alex Ramsden
Ships Doctor