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Dec 16 - Signy, Damoy and Rothera

Noon Position - Lat: 60° 42.1' S Long: 045° 34.8' W
Location - Signy Research Station South Orkney Islands
Total Distance Travelled: 11383Nm from Immingham, UK
Air Temp: -0.7°C
Sea Temp: 0.6°C

James Clark Ross Tracking Map

Web cam

Signy Via The Peninsula...

You find us today anchored off Signy station once more in the South Orkney Islands. It has been a busy couple of weeks with several calls along the way. Last weekend we were in the middle of the Rothera resupply, hence no diary as we didn't depart until Wednesday. It wasn't anything to do with my comments last time regarding the calm passage across Drake Passage. In fact I got away with that one as it remained calm all the way to Elephant Island and the end of the Transect.

Just for a change this transect finished at a reasonable hour of day. In previous years it has always seemed to end in the very early hours of the morning, but this time 22:00hrs saw us all done. The picture below shows the CTD rosette being deployed by Cliff Mulaney (AB) within in sight of the Elephant Island. It is always interesting to see the island where Shackleton and his men spent so much time a little over ninety years ago.

Elephant Island in the distance as we conclude this science leg
Elephant Island in the distance as we conclude this science leg


The JR193 Science team and their beloved CTD
The JR193 Science team and their beloved CTD

Damoy & Vernadsky

With the science complete it was time to put on out logistical hat once more as were headed down the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our first calls being to Damoy and the Ukrainian station Vernadsky.

Damoy was used as a transit base in the days before Rothera had the rock runway. This today allows the Dash 7 aircraft to fly people directly in from Stanley or South America. Before this air operations at Rothera were based around the Twin Otter Aircraft with skis flying off snow runways. The ships would bring people to Damoy who would then be ferried into Rothera to start their work without having to wait for the ships to reach Rothera.

The picture below shows the huts at Damoy, the UK hut being the green one in the background. The hut and surrounding area was cleaned up in the mid 90's as its use declined and was left as a refuge. It has now been decide to scale back once more and so additional equipment depoted here has now also been removed. There was a plan to completely remove the hut, but representations were made and so the hut remains for the moment.

The Argentinean orange huts and British huts at Damoy.
The Argentinean orange huts and British huts at Damoy.


During the call the tide was lower than we would have liked and so the equipment had to be moved along the coast to where the cargo tender could land. Part of the equipment removed consisted of two skidoos which were man, sorry person hauled to where the tender could pick them up. This involve a big team effort by all involved as they were well iced in and then had to be lowered onto the beach.

Maneuvering a skidoo onto the beach for removal.
Maneuvering a skidoo onto the beach for removal.


While the shore party laboured away the boat crews had to be mindful of the falling tide. Nobody would have seen the funny side of us getting ourselves stuck on the beach and having to wait several hours for the tide to come back in for us to escape. As the tide fell the stretch of water between the tenders ramp and shore grew promising the shore part a bit of a paddle to get back on the boat. To the rescue came our Third Office now referred to as Douglas "Isambard Kingdom Brunnel" Leask after his bridge build exploits. The industry of his effort even raised interest from the local inhabitants as they pottered about their daily business or perhaps the most inquisitive Gentoo penguin pictured below was the local building inspector as it was constructed without plans or a building permit.

Whats going on here...
Whats going on here...


I'll have to report this to the planning sub committee...
I'll have to report this to the planning sub committee...


Luckily the the shore party embarked and pulled up the gang plank before we were issued with a demolition notice. The ship then headed south across the Bismarck strait and the into the Lemaire Channel, to reach Vernadsky, the Ukrainian research station on the Argentine Islands. The old hands among you will know that this was, until 1996, the British Faraday research station before being handed over. Work still continues on some research studies from those times and the reason for our call this time was to allow the team from POL (Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory) to work on the tide gauge that is installed here. Though it is also a great opportunity to renew acquaintances with the team working here, several of the team have been down before.

Vernadsky Research Station
Vernadsky Research Station


The 12th Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition
The 12th Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition

Rothera

Vernadsky and Damoy completed it was time to head south across the Antarctic circle to Rothera. There was a little science on the way, but the main task was the annual resupply of the station. This is always a busy time for all onboard as the holds are emptied and fuel for both the aircraft and base is pumped into the shore storage tanks. Fortunately the last afternoon and evening allowed for a little down time for some. The base laid on a trip up to the local ski resort (slope) for a little skiing and snow boarding for those who hadn't found relief sufficiently exerting already. The base boatman also laid on a few trips around the bay for those interested in gaining a slightly different view of the area which was fantastic, so thanks to Jim for that.

JCR alongside Biscoe Wharf and an Adelie Penguin looking on
JCR alongside Biscoe Wharf and an Adelie Penguin looking on


Weddell Seal basking at Lagoon Island - J. Ditchfield
Weddell Seal basking at Lagoon Island - J. Ditchfield


Jim Ditchfield - 3rd Eng - and Rob Murdock -ETO Cadet - out boating Rothera style
Jim Ditchfield - 3rd Eng - and Rob Murdock -ETO Cadet - out boating Rothera style

Final Note

As the author is being a little slack this season and only managing to do an update every two weeks this will probably be the last published update of 2007. So all onboard would like to wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2008. When the big day comes we'll be heading for Stanley where we should arrive on Boxing Day. We'll then leave on New Year's Eve for our next science cruise. So have a great time and our exploits will continue after the holidays.

SAW