26 April, 2009 RRS Ernest Shackleton
Capt. John Mashall’s team duly arrived in Stanley and joined the ship on the Tuesday the 10th March. We spent three days in Stanley which was a good opportunity to ease back into things on board ship.
On Friday morning the old team werre picked up early to be taken to the airport for their flight back home. A few hours later we left port heading for Rothera base on the Antarctic Peninsula. We immediately ran into some pretty heavy weather and by Saturday morning the weather had slowed down pretty dramatically.
Of course having been on leave for a few months, a good few had lost their sealegs and were feeling decidedly ill. The weather continued to be pretty awful for the next two days and even some of the really hardened sea dogs started to look a little grenn gilled.
On Sunday morning one of our Radar scanners on top of the conning tower nearly fell off. One of the deck crew spotted it rotating at an angle and reported this to the bridge. A party was quickly assembled to tackle this problem. Once we were kitted up with harnessess etc. we headed off to the top of the tower. It was not very pleasant up swaying to and fro and pretty cold. We found the scanner leaning over at about 30 degrees and hanging by only one badly bent bolt. THe Radar was pulled back in place with ropes and we managed to resecure it to the base plate. We tied it down with ropes for good measure and gladly returned to the bridge.
Much to everyone’s relief The weather finally calmed down a bit on Monday evening. A good oppotunity for everybody to find all the stuff that had been flying their cabins over the last few days.
We had been tasked to to do a CTD run over a trench southwest of Adelaide Island before going the Rothera By the time we arrived on site the weather had abated markedly and to the task was duly begun. For uninitiated a CTD is device that is lowered oveer the side with sample bttoles attached that are triggered at various depths. These samples are then analysed.
Thus with glad hearts we turned towards Rothera via the southern tip of Adelaide Island. The low cloud teased us with ocassional views of the peaks and mountians in the distance as we slipped steadily by, lifting as the day progressed. We finally arrived alongside and tied up at noon. After a short briefing on the safety aspects of the base offloading commenced and soon containers and other cargo were moving steadily off. We even had a load of large rocks picked up at Stanley to help reinforce jetty.
Later that evening several groups of people went up to look at the base and for a walk around the small island. Loads of fur seals and and Adelie penguins were encountered along the way.
The next day offloading continued and good progress was made. Later that evening the base challenged the ship to a game of football. It was a game of two halves, the base won the first half 4-0 and the 2nd half was drawn 1-1. Methinks though that the base had about 15 players to our ten. Details notwithstanding a good time was had by all.
On Firday some of hte ship personnel were givne the opporrtunity to explore a crevasse. We all traipsed off to the Fuchs building and were handed load of kit and massive boots to put on. The struggle get inot all of htis was pretty amusing. Once kitted up, and rested, we heaed off for a short ride to the crevasse site.
One by by one we were roped down into a wonderland of contorted icicles in the icy cavern. It was a real treat and we all thooughly enjoyed it.
Friday evening the winterers came over to the ship for a farewell meal. Danny and Julia our dynamic catering team put on a curry spread that was truly delicious. The celebrations went on till late.
The cargo work finished at midday on Saturday and once it was all lashed we bid farewell to the base winterers and were given a good send off, which we returned.
So once more we are headed for open waters. The seas are now calm and we are hoping for smooth passage back to Stanley, even a slightly less rough one will do.
See you next time