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Dec 15 - Engineers

Monday 15th December 2008

Position report at 15:00 GMT
Latitude: 56 45.6 S
Longitude: 057 12.9 W
Bearing: 177 °T, 302 Nm from Cape Pembroke, Falklands
Cruise Number: JR 194/ JR 197
Distance Travelled: 83
Total Distance Travelled: 329
Steam Time: 8.7
Total Steam Time: 32.3
Average Speed: 9.5
Total Average Speed: 10.2
Wind: Direction NE, Force 2
Sea State: Slight
Air Temp: 5.5 °C Sea Temp: 5.7 °C
Pressure: 983 Tendency: Falling

Distance from Porthcawl: 7,041 miles

As part of the web-diary, I should like to introduce the ship’s crew to the world. I shall reserve such interviews (with the various departments of the crew) for weeks such as this when we are at sea (currently heading for the Antarctic peninsula) and intersperse them with the usual type of diary entry when we reach land or there is something out of the ordinary to discuss. Our current journey through Drake’s Passage (performing scientific research as we go) will hopefully be uneventful… unless this expanse of sea lives up to its reputation and gives us a bumpy ride!

So to start this week, I would like you to meet the engineers.

Ralph, Duncan, Jim and Tom in the engine control room
Ralph, Duncan, Jim and Tom in the engine control room

A brief interview with the lads went something like this:

What do ship’s engineers do?
Duncan: “The interesting stuff. Everything involved in maintaining services for a small community in an unusual part of the world”

Duncan Anderson
Duncan Anderson

Tom: “Keep the lights on and the propeller turning”
Tom Elliott - photo by Richard Turner
Tom Elliott - photo by Richard Turner

Jim: “Everything! Apart from navigating, cooking and painting”
Jim Stevenson - photo by Richard Turner
Jim Stevenson - photo by Richard Turner

Ralph: “We maintain every system on the ship. Everything has a pump, heater, fan, generator or motor attached to it; we look after them all. Without us your toilets wouldn’t flush, there would be no fresh water for drinking or showering, the ship would not move and there would be no light or power for your computer to write this on!”
Ralph Tulloch busy saving the day for us all - photo by Richard Turner
Ralph Tulloch busy saving the day for us all - photo by Richard Turner

Upon reading this, our somewhat disgruntled radio officer insisted that I point out that his HF radios would still work as they have their own battery supply!

What do you enjoy most about the job?
Jim: “Winning the battle of man against machine… The wages also help!”

Jim and Tom versus machine - photo by Richard Turner
Jim and Tom versus machine - photo by Richard Turner

Tom: “The fact that every day’s a school-day; we’re learning all the time. I also enjoy working as part of a close-knit team.”
Tom, Jim and Ralph working as a team - photo by Richard Turner
Tom, Jim and Ralph working as a team - photo by Richard Turner

Duncan: “Variety and travel”
Ralph: “Afternoons off in port and the opportunity to visit and see stunning places. And of course… pay-off day!”

What is the worst thing about working on a ship?
Jim: “Having to spend so much time away from home. Also, on the JCR, the weather!”
Duncan: “You can’t walk very far”
Tom: “Bad weather! Playing pool becomes difficult”
Ralph: “Spending a long time away from family, friends and girlfriends. No TV, motorbikes or Tennent’s lager!”

Ralph - putting on a brave face despite all that he is missing at home.
Ralph - putting on a brave face despite all that he is missing at home.

Why did you choose to go to sea?
Duncan: “To travel and get out of school”
Jim: “Growing up on the Isle of Bute, the sea played a significant part in my childhood. My two older brothers went to sea; they are both navigating officers, but I have only ever wanted to be an engineer. Oil and water mixes in my family”
Ralph: “I grew up surrounded by the sea and loved playing in boats and taking things to bits to see how they worked. Nobody told me I would have to put them back together again!”
Tom: “It seemed a good idea at the time!”

Tom - reconsidering his career choices perhaps
Tom - reconsidering his career choices perhaps

What do you do on the ship when you’re not working (feel free to censor your answers if necessary!)
Tom: “Watch DVDs, read lots of books, go to the gym (every now and then) and try to keep up with my emails to friends and family”
Ralph: “Sleep! Also, watch films or TV series”
Duncan: “Read, chat and plan my leave”
Jim: “Potter on the computer, watch DVDs and sleep”

Jim demonstrating that the engineers are in festive spirit with chocolate advent calenders in the engine control room.
Jim demonstrating that the engineers are in festive spirit with chocolate advent calenders in the engine control room.

Give an example of a funny incident that has happened when you’ve been at sea?
Jim: “When working at P+O Containers, we changed the name on the side of the ship to B+Q — just for a picture or two”
Ralph: “There have been several good laughs in the control room over the trip — it’s hard to pick just one”

Who would win your vote for crew member/officer of the season and why?
Ralph: “Me, myself or I! It’s too hard to choose a single person — everybody does their bit to keep everything ship-shape.”
Jim: “It’s the team that makes this all work, so: everyone.”
Duncan: “The doctor of course!”

Most kind Duncan (it’s amazing what you can make people say when they know you’ll be writing about them)!

Many thanks to the four of you for taking the time and effort to help me with the web-diary this week, and sorry for my hassling you for answers!