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Jan 18 - A Bumper Edition

Date: 18th January 2004

Noon Position: Noon position lat 52 08.9 S long 47 46.4 W (376 miles from Stanley)
Distance Travelled since Immingham: 21925 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 7.1°C
Sea temperature: 6.8°C

The JCR this Week.

Welcome to this week's JCR diary, as promised it's going to be a bumper pictures-of-people edition, so sorry if it's a little slow downloading. This is because a lot has happened over the week and all things being well this will be this crew's last installment before going on leave. The pictures hopefully will help our nearest and dearest to remember who is returning to them in a matter of days.

However, down to the business of the last week's happenings. You might remember that last Sunday we were sitting out a storm waiting for it to abate. Well abate it did and Monday was spent completing the survey lines. This allowed the sea to settle down even further before we attempted to recover and redeploy the two moorings. The moorings are mentioned in more detail later, but they are really just two floats anchored to the seabed which contain monitoring instruments. To allow the the data to be recovered the moorings have to be brought back onboard for downloading, this presently occurs three time each Antarctic season. We have already done this once this season in mid November.

This time, unfortunately, things did not go quite to plan as the shallow mooring responded to its release signal, but failed to rise to the surface. It appeared something had snagged. There was nothing for it, but to go dredging with the hope that we could knock it free. So a very devious plan was hatched involving a large grapnel, several bits of wire, some chain and the ship's main winch system. The plan was to lower the grapnel to the seabed along with some of the wire and then move the ship around the mooring laying out more wire all the time. This would then create a loop around the mooring, the ship would then move clear of the site before heaving the wire in using the winch. It was while heaving in that a rise in the wire tension was noticed and a little time later a big orange buoy was spotted on the surface. It is always a worrying time as this might have been caused by the anchor rope being cut, but we were very fortunate and everything came back and can be reused once again. The two pictures below illustrate part of the operation. The picture below shows the ship's track whilst laying the wire out. The red cross marks the moorings site and the purple line the ships track around the area. Finally, Dave King our second officer just wanted me to tell his Dad that the loop around the mooring was a perfect circle in real life and the straight lines shown in the loop are due to the satellite fixes jumping around; not his bad driving! Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 Ship's track around the mooring. Click to enlarge. Ship's track around the mooring. Click to enlarge.

Whilst working on the moorings and during the CTD deployment afterwards we were treated to three sperm whales circling the ship for over an hour, it was a wonderful sight. The two pictures below are just a sample of those taken; in the left-hand image we have one diving whilst in the right you can hopefully see its back and blow through the railings. Click on it to get a better look.

Sperm whale tail. Click to enlarge. Passing the CTD cable. Click to enlarge.
Sperm whale tail.
Click to enlarge.
Passing the CTD cable.
Click to enlarge.

The weather gave us the break we needed to get the moorings recovered serviced and redeployed. It then obliged us even further by calming down enough to allow a trip to Bird Island

Bird Island

The main reason for this visit to Bird Island was to collect two people that we had dropped off earlier in the season. However, over the last few weeks the ship's engineers have had a running correspondence with the base to try and help them solve an intermittent problem with one of their generators. So this call allowed two engineers to visit and progress their investigations further. Below left we see the chaps on the boat and on the right hard at work in the genny shed.

L-R, Steve Eadie (4th Eng) and Gerry Armour (2nd Eng). Click to enlarge. Hard at work in the genny shed. Click to enlarge.
L-R, Steve Eadie (4th Eng) and Gerry Armour (2nd Eng).
Click to enlarge.
Hard at work in the genny shed. Click to enlarge.

On entering the cove we were met with an unusual sight to us, that is two yachts anchored in the cove. Both are involved with wildlife survey work around the island and had called in to catch up on various things. The beaches were also a lot quieter than our last call; then we had to use various routes to get where we wanted to go because of the huge numbers of seals around. This time we mostly encountered pups, as the adults had headed back to sea to feed. The pups are so funny because like most youngsters left to their own devices they are prone to go wandering off to explore. This even extended to the packing cases around base as none could be seen that did not have a row of noses stick out from below them. Then whilst Gerry and Steve continued their diagnosis it was off to the albatrosses for the rest of us to marvel as the wanderers were seen strutting their stuff. Below are some images of the call; click to enlarge.

Two yachts.  Click to enlarge. Pups. Click to enlarge.
Albatrosses. Click to enlarge. Albatross. Click to enlarge.

With Bird Island successfully completed it was off to King Edward Point to pick up our last passenger for the voyage back to Stanley.

King Edward Point

We paid a six hour call to KEP which allowed people to get ashore to stretch their legs. Additionally Jo Cox (3rd Off) and Dave King (2nd Off) went off boat training, as the small boats haven't been exercised much this trip, and took some of the science party to view the glaciers in Moraine Fjord. Judging by all of the pictures taken, a great time was had by all. We must point out that the picture below left was taken with a telephoto lens and hence makes the boat look a awful lot closer to the glacier than they really were. Who said the camera never lies? Still though I'm sure you'll agree it is a magnificent picture and the enjoyment can only be gauged by the grin on Jo's face, below right.

In front of the Harker glacier. Click to enlarge. Smiling Jo Cox (3rd Off). Click to enlarge.
In front of the Harker glacier.
Click to enlarge.
Smiling Jo Cox (3rd Off).
Click to enlarge.

So to today and our passage back to Stanley. The end of the week allowed a couple of bits of science to be redone as the previously poor weather had spoilt some of the data sets. Now even on passage we continue to increase our swath seabed map of the area by just modifying our route a few miles each time. Tuesday morning should see us arrive in Stanley, when final preparations will be made to hand the vessel over to Captain Burgan and his team for the next few months.

A couple of people here will be remaining onboard Emma our Doctor will be taking sole charge of the web diary reins, Dave King will rejoin his usual compatriots and Peter Morris from Geosciences will be remaining for the next couple of cruises as well. So good luck to them.

Science Bit In The Middle.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been conducting one of the three core box surveys that take place each Antarctic season. These occur in roughly early November, January and late March and have the aim of determining the amount of krill present in the sea at these times. The area to the north-western end of South Georgia was chosen because studies of birds and seals suggest that they favoured this area for feeding. The cruises have been going on for several years now and have collected a large amount of data

The methods used are to steam transect lines during the daylight hours when the krill should be in deeper waters using the ships built in EK60 echosounders to look at the water content. At the same time a UOR (Undulating Oceanographic Recorder) is towed. This travels up and down through the top 150 metres of the ocean recording its physical properties.

Great minds at work. Click to enlarge. The Undulator is recovered. Click to enlarge.
The Brains of the Operation! Jon Watkins (PSO) & Mark Brandon discuss the echosounder trace. Click to enlarge. Recovering the UOR.
Click to enlarge.

Then during the hours of darkness more physical studies at set positions are carried out using the CTD. The echo sounders work continuously throughout the survey and are watched for likely indications of krill swarms. When one is identified it is fished using a trawl net to confirm that the trace indicates what we think it is i.e. fish or krill. Below you can see some krill compared to the size of someone's hand (left) and in the right-hand picture we see Sarah Hardy assisting in the sorting of the latest catch.

Krill! Click to enlarge. Sarah Hardy sorting the krill catch. Click to enlarge.
What it's all about; Krill!
Click to enlarge.
Sarah Hardy proving an oceanographer can do biology as well! Click to enlarge.

In addition to the three cruises each year, work is also being undertaken for continuous monitoring of the ocean's biomass in this area, by using moorings. There are two in fact, one anchored in shallow water (300m deep) and one in deeper water (1300m). Each one consists of an orange buoy housing the instruments and a line which anchors it to the seabed. The line for each mooring varies for each site, so that both buoys float 200 metres below the surface. Below we can see the two moorings being readied for and being deployed.

The mooring ready for deployment. Click to enlarge. Night time deployment. Click to enlarge.
Deploying the buoys by day or night.
Click to enlarge.

The buoys are fixed in place by an anchor, in this case old railway wheels. The mooring's rope is then attached to them via an acoustic release. It is this that allows us to recover them and collect the data. When we want to get the data back we send a sound signal through the water to open the release, the buoy and all it's equipment floats to the surface and is brought back onboard. Once this is done and the instruments serviced, the mooring is paid out, attached to an anchor again and deployed as shown below.

Bosun cuts the rope. Click to enlarge. The weight drops. Click to enlarge. Splash. Click to enlarge.
Cut Drop Splash!

Although deployment involves many people onboard we have below the team photo for the last one. (L-R) George Stewart (Bosun), Andy Liddell (Acting Mate), Peter Enderlein and Doug Bone (Mooring designers and operators), Simon Wright (Deck Eng) and Derek Jenkins (AB). Click to enlarge

 Some of the moorings team. Click to enlarge.

Doctor Working!!!

Sometimes writing the web diary one can get oneself into some very hot water and last week was one of those times! Showing a picture of the Doctor sleeping on the the job was not one of my better acts of judgment, you could say it's been a long week. :-)

Dr. Emma has made sure that I have been made aware of everything that she has done and I've been called on to document each and every event. It's been a busy week! Pictured below are just some of the events witnessed. These range from assisting with collecting samples from the nets on deck and apparently moving so fast she was just a blur to the camera, to actually sorting the samples themselves.

Dr Emma - faster than the camera! Click to enlarge. Dr Emma hard at work. Click to enlarge.

Emma - faster than the camera!
Click to enlarge

Emma hard at work!
Click to enlarge.

I even witnessed some doctoring as well. Below Emma can be seen supervising the Bird Islanders building their team spirit by giving each other the required flu jabs. You should have seen Sarah's face a few moments later when Ben actually gave her the injection!

Dr Emma in teaching mode! Click to enlarge. Dr Emma in supervision mode! Click to enlarge.

Having tried to repair the damage I still have a feeling it is only a matter of time after I leave before Emma exacts her revenge!

And it's good-bye from us!

So we are leaving you this week so we thought we'd give you our traditional photographic run round the departments onboard. Please click on the photos to enlarge.

The Bridge Team
The Bridge Team. Click to enlarge. (L-R) Andy Liddell (Temporary Mate), Jo Cox (3rd Mate), Dave King (2nd Mate), Robert Paterson (Temporary Master) & Cliff Mullaney (AB)
The Engineer Room Team
(L-R front) Charlie Smith (M/M), Tony Poole (3rd Eng), Nick Dunbar (ETO), Mark Robinshaw (M/M), Dave Cutting (Chief Eng)
Behind - Gerry Armour (2nd Eng) & Steve Eadie (4th Eng)
The Engineer Room Team. Click to enlarge.
The Deck Crew
The Deck Crew. Click to enlarge. (L-R) George Stewart (Bosun), Cliff Mullaney, Lester Jolly (in front), Hector Villalon-Corona, Derek Jenkins, Marc Blaby (ABs) & Dave Williams (Bosun's Mate)
The Catering Team
(L-R) Derek Lee (Steward), Cliff Pratley 2nd Steward), Ken Weston & Jimmy Newall (Stewards), Duncan MacIntyre (Chef).
Sorry to Hamish Gibson (Purser) I couldn't find you.
The Catering Crew. Click to enlarge.
The Medical, Deck Engineering & Web Team
The Medical, Deck Engineering & Web Team. Click to enlarge. Emma Wilson (Doctor) &
Simon Wright (Deck Eng)
Your web diary team for the last four months.

A final thought ...

Well we should be on our way and we wish a good voyage to Captain Burgan and his team. Here's our final piccy of the week and thanks to everyone who has helped by offering their pictures for publication over the months.

 Sunset. Click to enlarge. Sunset. Click to enlarge.

Well, I'll be back with you again in the summer. I'd just like to thank Emma for all her help with the diary and wish her all the very best for her next voyage of adventure, enjoy! So it's bye from us...