Nov 16 - Return to Stanley
Update 16 November
Noon Position : lat 51 43.9S, long 57 19.8 W
Bearing: 097 T, 20nm from Stanley, Falkland Islands
Air temperature @ noon today : 8.8 degrees C
Sea temperature @ noon today : 8.5 degrees C
Wind: Direction NE, Force 3
Return to Stanley
This week we have left the beautiful shores of South Georgia, unfortunately also leaving the good weather behind. The crossing back to Stanley was definitely a little on the rough side, although the crew tell me it was 'nothing'. We all blame Denise Chapman, she was heard to say to the Captain that she hoped we had bad weather so she knew what it was like! The problem is that when the ship rolls everyone rolls around in their bunks, consequently none of the ship's company got any sleep. Denise then had to share the ship with a bunch of disgruntled, sleep-deprived people! The weather soon settled and we arrived in Stanley on Saturday, bright and early. The Dash 7 aircraft has only made a couple of flights into Rothera due to poor weather conditions. As a result we were greeted by many of the same people who had waved us off at the beginning of our last leg. They have been stuck in Stanley for quite a while now and are experts on the local entertainment opportunities.
The Diving Cruise Revisited
Whilst we were at King Edward Point the divers explored several local areas looking for clams, fish and limpets. Whilst they were able to track down the fish and limpets, the clams were proving a problem. The team were unable to find any at either of their planned dive sites. As time and the weather were in our favour it was decided that the divers would try another site further afield. We left K.E.P. on Tuesday, waving goodbye to the friends who were staying, au revoir really, we'll be back in a few weeks. Then it was back to Bird Island to unload the last bits of cargo and pick up their rubbish. The cargo at Bird Island was less hard work this time, although the fur seals are further on in their breeding season and therefore more aggressive. There was quite a pitched battle on the jetty, holding up proceedings for quite a while. The next morning we were up at 4 am to finish the cargo.......and I promise we really have finished cargo there for the summer now! Having thawed out from our cold, foggy start the ship moved round the corner to Elsehul, a nearby bay, which has often provided the ship with shelter from bad weather in the past. Here the divers were able to get in the water again and explore the area - still not much luck. The ship was then moved to Rosita Harbour, in the Bay of Isles, where another dive was made; no luck there either. It was decided that there were enough time in the schedule for one further dive and we were offered a rare treat. We travelled east to Prince Olavs Harbour, this is another old whaling station, not preserved as Grytviken has been. This ship has not visited since 1999 and as we approached people were lined up on the monkey island to have a look.
I'm sorry that the picture is not clearer but I hope that you can make out the principal buildings and the shipwreck on the left, the jetty in the centre and the elevated railway on the right. It is interesting to compare this to the plan of the harbour below.
Unfortunately, the wind in the bay was too strong and diving was not possible. So, the ship set sail once more but this time towards the west heading for Stanley. Although this is the end of the diving cruise as such, Simon Morley will be staying on board. He is acting as 'fish nurse', to look after the fish and clams that we do have until we arrive in Rothera. This is a very important job, did you know that fish get sea-sick? It will be his job to make certain that they are comfortable and happy on their trip south!
Jollies around Stanley
The BAS personnel who have been in Stanley are now experts at the local area and I asked them what they would recommend during an afternoon off the ship. They suggested that I visit Pembroke lighthouse. This lighthouse is the one that the ship passes on it's way in towards Stanley harbour and so I decided to go and have a look. Before setting off it is important to visit the museum in town, where they will give you the key for the door. I was able to take my bicycle and travel the few miles up the road towards the small local airport. Here, you leave the road on a rough landrover track that continues along the spit of land. After a relatively short time you reach the lighthouse. Using the enormous key and quite a lot of brute force it is possible to get inside. Several people have been caught out by the door slamming shut behind them and there is a handy wedge to prevent you being trapped. The building itself has been restored and there are still the storage tanks for fuel and some cupboards for personal effects, which are curved to fit the wall. To get right to the top there are extremely steep steps and eventually it is possible to stand in the lamp housing. The views of the coastline are well worth the effort.
Welcome to the new passengers
Now we are off on our rounds again. This time we are undertaking several science tasks - including the recovery of eight current-meter (etc) moorings, two Bottom Pressure Recorders, and a five day acoustic survey (the "Western Core Box") - in addition to our cargo-working visit to King Edward Point, South Georgia, where I hope the sun will be shining again! In the meantime we have a whole new group of people on board, here they are during the introductory safety brief.