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Dec 28 - Approaching Stanley

RRS James Clark Ross

Update (28th December 2003)

Noon Position : Noon position lat 52 19.8S long 51 32.3W

Distance Travelled since Immingham : 17691 Nautical Miles

Air temperature @ Noon today : 6.9 degrees C

Sea temperature @ Noon today : 7.4 degrees C

The JCR this Week.

You find us this week approaching Stanley at the end of our latest visit to South Georgia. The week started with rough weather and that is the way it continued, even if it has finally abated slightly this afternoon so aiding our progress. A storm on Monday forced us off course so we were heading north-east to cope with the weather better. Not the most direct route to Bird Island, our first stop, as that was to the south-east of us. When we finally did manage a south-easterly direction a mega-berg appeared in our path forcing us north-east once more. The dodging of weather and ice continued until late on Tuesday afternoon when we finally reached Bird Island, at least the weather was in the right direction to allow the launch to get to the station.

Here we were due to deliver Dave Molyneaux, one of the BAS communication experts to set-up and test some gear. It was also a chance to deliver some fresh produce and the last post before Christmas! The base commander (BC) having witnessed Nick Dunbar's (ETO) efforts in getting the Signy generators working earlier in the season, had asked Nick to come ashore have a look at one of theirs as it was causing occasional problems. Since his efforts at Signy, Nick's been referred to by the engineering department onboard as St. Nick of Signy, though we must point out that there is no seasonal connection in this title!

So leaving Nick to check out the generators with Tony Poole (3rd Eng) the rest of us retired to the base for tea and cake; don't worry we did send a carry out to the workers! Bird Island like places all around the world was preparing for Christmas with their front door adorned with a holly wreath, which can be seen in the picture below. It might even look like yours at home, except for the fur seal pups lying outside the door waiting to dive into the building at every opportunity. [Ed - we should point out that the holly wreath is artificial, as a real one would break the rules on importing non-native species.]

The Holly & The Furries!. Click to enlarge The walkway is supposed to be for humans!. Click to enlarge
The Holly & The Furries!
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The walkway is supposed to be for humans!
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After tea and cakes, the jolly merchants made a dash up to the Wandering Albatrosses. You can see from the picture below left, that the conditions resembled a damp autumn day in the UK, except it wasn't raining yet! The trek was worth it all the same as we where able to watch several couples getting to know each other again having just returned to shore. They will have been away at sea feeding since their last chick left the nest. That would be many months ago, as they only breed once every two years. However, they mate for life and so after many months apart need to renew the bond between themselves. This consists of courtship displays and the mutual preening which can be seen below right.

Trekking up to the Albatrosses. Click to enlarge Just getting to know you!. Click to enlarge
Trekking up to the Albatrosses
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Just getting to know you!
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Then as dusk approached it was back to the ship, the generators behaved impeccably and so failed to reproduce the fault - typical! However, they were left well equipped having attached instruments to the offending machine and given advice, so that they can better identify the fault if it ever occurs again.

An overnight sail saw our entry into Cumberland Bay and our arrival off King Edward Point (KEP). It was quite a busy place with HMS Endurance alongside the jetty at KEP and the cruise ship "Hanseatic" anchored in the cove discharging her passengers to see the sights ashore. You might be able to make out some of the passengers out in the picture below like little red ants as a column of them makes their way to Shackleton's grave.

Visitors from the Hanseatic wander around like little red ants in their coats. Click to enlargeVisitors from the Hanseatic wander around like little red ants in their coats. Click to enlarge

King Edward Point shipping is shown below although we are missing one visitor, that is the World Discoverer which came in during the afternoon after theHanseatic had left.

HMS Endurance.. Click to enlarge RRS James Clark Ross. Click to enlarge Cruise Vessel 'Hanseatic'. Click to enlarge
HMS Endurance.
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RRS James Clark Ross
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Cruise Vessel Hanseatic
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"About a Boy" was a movie some of us watched this week, but we had our own version in real life. That is "About a Buoy"! With HMS Endurance on the jetty we were left to moor just outside the cove at the Admiralty buoy. It is a floating steel cylinder which is attached by anchors to the seabed, ships can then tie themselves to it. It is more convenient than anchoring and quicker to move from if required. Once the boat was in the water Marc Blaby (AB) was landed on the buoy, his job being to feed the lines though the securing ring on the buoy which the boat ferried to him. The loose end of the rope is then passed back to the ship for securing, this means that when it comes to leaving the loose ends are released onboard and just pulled back through the ring.

Marc doing his knome impression, but where's the fishing rod?. Click to enlarge JCR attached to the buoy. Click to enlarge
Marc doing his gnome impression, but where's the fishing rod?
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JCR attached to the buoy.
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With JCR securely tied up and our passengers safely ashore there was an opportunity for some to go for a walk, the weather was beautiful.

As evening fell we were treated to a lovely still evening and it being Christmas Eve there was a midnight service being held in the whaling station's church. The church is a beautiful building having been maintained since the days of whaling almost forty years ago. The service concentrated on the singing side of celebrating Christmas with the carols interspersed with bible reading telling the Christmas story. The readings were conducted in English and Spanish as there was a large contingent of Chileans in the building group working on the whaling station. A group of them then treated us all to a rendition of a Chilean carol and the sermon was delivered by Father Mark Catherall from HMS Endurance.

The pictures below, hopefully, give a little of the flavour of the evening; top left - altar, top right - Emma being artistic with her shot of the candles! bottom left Captain Paterson reading the final lesson and bottom right - Father Catherall with the Chilean singers.

Grytviken Church Altar. Click to enlarge Reading by candle light. Click to enlarge
Captain Paterson reads the final lesson. Click to enlarge Father Catheral (RN)& the Chilean singers. Click to enlarge

The quiet night was shattered in the early hours of the morning when a gale blew up. This wouldn't have been a problem if it hadn't started to shuffle the icebergs in the bay, to the point that one was coming our way. So the early hours of Christmas morning saw us starting up and moving away from the buoy to spend most of the day steaming up and down the bay. It wasn't until the afternoon that HMS Endurance was able to clear the jetty and so allow us to berth. Unfortunately this meant that we had to spoil the base's Christmas meal planned for that evening. They required fuel and we had to leave first thing in the morning, so there was no other opportunity but to do it there and then.

8 am Boxing Day and we were off back to Stanley with our usual departure picture shown below.

Departing KEP once again. Click to enlarge

Once underway Christmas Day was declared, having been suspended from the previous day due to all the activity. This did mean that those who had just left the base had to endure yet another Christmas dinner, but it was enjoyed by all. Though hats were a source of discussion with Emma, the Doc, taking photos of everyone wearing the Santa hat she had with her and a debate being held on whether Gerry the second engineer requires a hair cut or a bigger hat next time! See below.

Gerry 'My hat's too small' Armour (2nd Eng). Click to enlarge Simon ' you cannot see me' Wright (Deck Eng). Click to enlarge
Gerry Armour (2nd Eng)
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Simon Wright (Deck Eng)
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Thank You's for the week.

It has to be Hamish, Duncan, Ray, Cliff, Kenny, Jimmy & Derek - Our Catering Department for pulling out all the stops for Christmas.

Thank You from all of us!

A final thought until next week...

Monday morning will be Stanley once more and after a quick turn round it's off to sea again on Tuesday for the final leg with this crew. Yet there is over three weeks to go and next Sunday will find us doing science in the area of South Georgia once again, but more of that then.

In the mean time we hope you all enjoyed you Christmas celebrations and wish you Good Luck for the New Year.