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Jan 13 - Christmas and a Scientific New Year

Noon Position - Lat: 59° 57.9' S Long: 044° 06.7' W
Location - Just North of South Orkney Islands
Total Distance Travelled: 14734Nm from Immingham, UK
Air Temp: 0.7°C
Sea Temp: 1.7°C

James Clark Ross Tracking Map

Web cam

Welcome to 2008 and the return of the James Clark Ross diary. The author accepts full responsibility for the tardy timing of this edition, don't worry I've been suitably chastised by the various comments I've received over its none appearance. I foolishly had the bright idea of getting an update out just after we left Stanley on New Years Eve. Unfortunately my memory must be going as I'd forgotten how busy the start to a Biology research cruise can be having not done one for a few years. I know "we've been working" is a pretty poor excuse for a months break in the diary, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment.

So where were we last time I wrote? Well actually just about here. If you judge our progress on the noon position above then you could say we haven't gone very far in the last month. We were at Signy Island a month ago and yes we were there again yesterday, if only for a couple of hours to exchange some cargo for some waste. I'm not sure who gets the best deal out of this, but it keeps the place tidy which is always good.

After the December call our voyage took us north to South Georgia to move some people around various places on the islands. It started with an early morning call to Bird Island and after a quick dash in and out with an inflatable boat we were off again. We headed along the north coast of South Georgia to Hound Bay, a first for the ship. Here we were tasked to pickup a field party who had been installing tracking devices on some King Penguins to allow us to study their movements for the present sience programme and other ongoing work.

(Click on all pictures to see an enlarged image).

Boats returning with the Hound Bay field party
Boats returning with the Hound Bay field party

The weather during this time was extremely kind to us meaning we had a little time in hand as we were due into the King Edward Cove research station until early the following morning. This allowed the vessel to make its second first of the day with a call into Ocean Harbour. This had been the site of a whaling station between 1909 and 1920 when the merger of two companies saw the station's buildings and equipment dismantled and moved up the coast to Stromness Harbour. Very little remains of the station today except for the fountations of the odd building, a derilict steam engine, which used to run between the station and the jetty, and the wreck of the "Bayard". The vessel is a three masted barque that was built in Liverpool in 1864, but whilst delivering coal to the whaling station a storm caused her to drift and be wrecked on the southside of the bay. It was great to get a walk ashore and hopefully the pictures below will give you a feel of the place.

Ocean Harbour by Jim Ditchfield
Ocean Harbour by Jim Ditchfield


Bayard's final resting place where she now makes a home for Blue-eyed Shags
Bayard's final resting place where she now makes a home for Blue-eyed Shags


How many Elephant seals can you get in one picture!
How many Elephant seals can you get in one picture!


Local reindeer at Ocean Harbour, they were introduced by the whalers
Local reindeer at Ocean Harbour, they were introduced by the whalers


Whale bone lies around as a reminder of Ocean Harbour's history
Whale bone lies around as a reminder of Ocean Harbour's history

The following morning saw us moor alongside King Edward Point to deliver the rest of the seasons fuel and the usual exchange of cargo and waste. That evening there was a BBQ ashore, which was a little warmer than the one during our first call, which you could say had a definate nip in the air. The morning of the 23rd saw us underway towards Stanley, there had been a plan according to the itinerary for us to arrive on the morning of the 26th, but as always the weather down here has the last word and so it was late on the 26th when we tied alsongside in Stanley.

Christmas Day had been fairly quiet one at sea for all those that could, but a busy one for the workers included of course the catering staff who spoilt us with a wonderful Christmas lunch. In case anyone was wondering if Santa could find us down here, well the answer is below, I guess having a chimney the size of our funnel does help him to find us though scaling it seems to be a problem. I don't know if Jim Ditchfield, who took the picture, still got his presents as he wasn't tucked up in bed like he was suppose to be...

Santa comes a calling by Jim Ditchfield
Santa comes a calling by Jim Ditchfield

However, it was always going to be the calm before the storm as we discharge the base waste and rearranged the ship for the forthcoming cruise. The 29th December saw the arrival of the last of the science party and after a busy time spent securing the tonnes of equipment they'd brought with then we headed back to sea on New Year's Eve. With the arrival of Midnight tradition was upheald as we assembled to say goodbye to 2007 and ring in the New Year. Tradition dictates that the old year is rung out with eight bells from the oldest person onboard and rung in with eight bells by the youngest onboard. This year the year was rung out by Nick Dunbar, our Electrician, and in by one of the science party Libby Jones whilst she was maskerading as a Catering Officer.

Nick Dunbar says goodbye to 2007 with eight bells
Nick Dunbar says goodbye to 2007 with eight bells


Libby Jones rings in 2008
Libby Jones rings in 2008

The science programme is now well under way. Having departed the South Orkney Islands we are going to slowly work towards the western end of South Georgia over the next few weeks. This allows the scientist's to study the ecosystems of this area. I hope to bring more detailed descriptions over the coming weeks as I try to get people to write a few words on their chosen subjects.

On a final note for this week in a return to wildlife corner we have acouple of shots courtesy of Jon Wakins which are presently my favourites.

Chinstrap penguins keeping up with the ship
Chinstrap penguins keeping up with the ship


Wilson's Storm-petrel hopping over the sea's surface on the look out for food
Wilson's Storm-petrel hopping over the sea's surface on the look out for food

SAW