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Feb 15 - Drills and thrills

Date: 15th February 2004

Noon Position: Noon position lat 51 40.0S long 57 47.19W
Distance Travelled since Immingham: 17295 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 11.9°C

The News in brief.

This week was spent travelling back to Stanley, through the dreaded Drake Passage. This notorious stretch of ocean was unbelievably calm and kind to us, and the 26 degree heat of mid-summer in Stanley beckoned. We could almost see the palm trees. Then the weather played a nasty trick on us and 4 hours out of the safe haven of Port William, the ship began to roll and pitch. The last few hours of our passage turned into the worst, and we arrived into Stanley in miserable, wet and windy conditions. Naturally this was the weather until we sailed this morning, when the sun decided to come out and we were able to bask briefly in almost 12 degrees of heat.

Now we are headed south again, with a new team of geologists on board, this time intent on gathering samples of rock rather than mud. By next weekend science should be underway and we will be able to report on our progress.

While we were in Stanley, the harbour became quite busy. The squid fishing season is starting and a fleet of Korean squid jiggers had come in to collect their fishing permits. The harbour authorities were busy going from boat to boat, checking their credentials and issuing licenses. Below is an image of a few of the boats, with the JCR looking conspicuously red in the background.

Squid jiggers. Click to enlarge
Squid Jiggers in Stanley harbour. Click to enlarge.

The morning we were due to leave was eerily calm. There was barely a ripple on the water and the sky, the hills and the boats were reflected as if on a lake. The images below show Stanley and the hills behind, and the ship peeping out from behind the warehouses of FIPASS. Click on each to enlarge.

 Stanley harbour. Click to enlarge.

 Stanley harbour. Click to enlarge.

Often we have a week or so in port to achieve the change-over of science teams, restocking the ship and refueling. All this had to be completed on this occasion in two days. In addition, a new requirement of maritime law which requires a greater level of security on ships was implemented. This means that a member of the crew must stand permanent watch on the gangway, all visitors to the ship must be booked in and out and all aboard must wear security passes. Fortunately for us, Stanley is a very safe place and, being a relatively small crew, we have few problems with security.

Small Boat Operations.

Saturday afternoon was a time for testing the small boats. These don't often get used while we are at sea and so, in port, the most is made of the time to overhaul and run the engines. Below we have some images of 2nd and 3rd officers Dave King and Paul Clarke out in the boats with engineers Jim Stevenson and Tom Elliott and doctor Emma. This was also a time for us to practice man-over-board drills. A life-ring is thrown overboard, and then "rescued" by the nearest boat. Of course these drills never become competitive, although I have to say I think the girls are better at it!

Jim. Click to enlarge. Dave. Click to enlarge.

Rescue boat drivers. Jim and Dave.
Click to enlarge.

 Paul and Emma. Click to enlarge. Watch out, woman driver! Click to enlarge.

During the afternoon, two Commerson's dolphins decided to join in the entertainment and played for about half an hour, racing the boats and porpoising in the bow waves. They seem to enjoy playing like this and go from one boat to the other, appearing with a splash and a snort every few seconds. Tom was able to get a very close look.

 Tom and dolphin. Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge.

While exploring around the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, Dave decided to put his boat to the test fully, in this case performing what he calls "shallow water operations". Really Dave?

 SWOPS. Click to enlarge. Click to enlarge.

Drills and thrills

Every time we leave Stanley we run through safety procedures, making sure everyone on board knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. This usually involves boarding and launching the lifeboats. This process is shown in the photographs below. The boats are driven by the coxswain, who is either the 2nd or 3rd officer. The purser is responsible for making sure all the science party are on board, while the crew prepare the boat for launching.

Preparing the lifeboats for launch: (click on each to enlarge)

Lifeboat dropping. Click to enlarge. Lifeboat working. Click to enlarge.

Lowering the lifeboat.

Dave King takes the boat for a quick spin around the harbour to test the engines.

Pecker. Click to enlarge. Ian and Tugs. Click to enlarge.

Dave Peck lowers the boat.

Mark Taylor and Ian Raper perform some maintenance on the winch system whilst the boat is in the water.

In this lower picture the scientists can be seen being strapped into the lifeboats which are designed to right themselves in the event of a capsize. They contain food, water, dry clothes, flares and medical supplies as well as full communications equipment. Each boat can carry up to 80 passengers and contains enough supplies for up to seven days. The food ration comprises 3 litres of water, 330g of glucose tablets and 660g of a concentrated mixture in the form of a biscuit per person.

Lifeboat drill. Click to enlarge. Inside the boats. Click to enlarge.

A final thought until next week...

There are some lonely hearts on board, having received no Valentine's Day cards this year...

We can't understand why not. Here are some pictures of the poor lost souls.

Richie. Click to enlarge. Dave. Click to enlarge. Tom. Click to enlarge.

Rich Turner, the handsomest Purser on board.

Dave King, 2nd Officer (Navigator). Very keen to show people his chart corrections, especially the shoals.

Tom Elliott, Engineer, able to fix anything.

Next week: ...science and the Drake Passage...