Last updated: Saturday 4th  November 2017   

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 Saturday started out cold, with the air temperature down to about -7 C and this evening it seems to have dropped a bit further and is, at the time of writing, about  -8.5 C.  With a fresh breeze blowing through the night it has meant that a lot of spray has been shipped over the Forecastle and the result is some very quick freezing.

The Forecastle this morning. 

The James Clark Ross had made good progress overnight to the South Orkney Islands and arrived in Borge Bay,  just a short distance off of Signy Island for about 10:00.  With the anchor dropped and a time spent clearing the decks of the accumulated ice,  it was time for the first team to go ashore and assess the base.

The first team ashore were input via the inflatable Humbers.  As well as a lot of warm clothing,  immersion suits were also required.  At this point the wind was blowing over 20 kts and so any exposed skin felt very cold.

The ship passed numerous icebergs on the way to Borge Bay but sadly visibility was not too great this morning and this is a shot of a few off of Coronation Island.  These bergs will be grounded just now. 

The team that went ashore reported that Factory Cove,  which is outside the base,  was free of ice and that there was not too much snow around the base.  By now it was almost lunchtime and so lunch was had on board (and with the tide inconveniently out at the time it made sense.  One day the jetty will hopefully go out far enough to let cargo tenders tie up regardless of the tide!  Those ashore would get lunch delivered to them when the cargo tender did go in.

This is the forward facing window in the Underway Instrumentation and Control Room,  which is towards the aft end of the ship.  With no heating applied to the window it was iced up when I passed through this morning.  I put on the window heater and within about fifteen minutes the window had cleared. All of the Bridge windows are heated and have a hot water wash system.  Switching on the window heaters on the Bridge serves two functions.  It keeps the windows free of ice and it also helps to keep the Bridge warm.  With the heaters off,  there is a lot of glass for the cold to seep through and the heaters make a big difference to the temperature. 

Signy Island.  Factory Cove is slightly to the right hand side of this picture.  The base is hidden behind the headland to the left.  With the first team ashore,  their job is to assess what work is required to get the base up and running following months uninhabited and without any power.  Also they have to determine what to dig out first and then assign tasks to the group that follows.

After lunch the cargo tender is deployed,  with twelve pax to go ashore and make a concerted effort to get the station up and running.  A lot of digging was required and the initial plan was to start sending some of the base cargo ashore.  However the Base Commander decided that this should wait until Sunday as there was other tasks that needed to be completed before they could deal with any cargo.  It was not known until later afternoon if anyone would be spending the night ashore as this depended on getting the main services up and running.  I am happy to report that eight persons will be ashore overnight as the services are up and running.

There has not been much in the way of wildlife around the ship.  I think I spotted one seal,  a few cormorants and  steady flow of snow petrels, pictured and a lone sheathbill sitting on the Stern Gantry.  I heard that there was a lone elephant seal at the base.

Those that were not staying ashore would not return to the ship until after dinner had been served in the Saloon,  so the Galley team,  John, Chris and Riff (not in this photo) put meals aside to be eaten in the Duty Mess.  Whilst working at the bases the meals tend to be once that can be easily transported ashore and put to one side for eating outside of the regular meal times.  Having looked at the menu for tomorrow I hope to be on board for my lunch!

The Duty Mess in operation this evening.  One advantage of the Duty Mess that one can eat there without having to change out of working clothes.

Final image for today is a closer view of Signy Island,  the base hidden behind the headland.

With everyone not staying over night on the base back on board the James Clark Ross for about 19:00,  the ship moved out of the Borge Bay into more open water.  During the course of the day we had seen ice blink to the south,  this being a good indication of pack ice,  it reflecting off the clouds,  and as we moved out we could see it encroaching.  With the wind from the south it has been pushed up towards us.  We just have to hope that it does not move into Factory Cove as that would make the cargo operations more difficult.

Our Doctor,  Pips,  was promoted to the role of Queen Fid.  Fid is the traditional word that is used to describe someone on board the ship who will be going to a base,  in the past it applied to those over wintering.  FIDS stands for Falkland Islands Dependency Survey,  which became the British Antarctic Survey in the 1960's.  The King or Queen Fid would be the person in charge of those on board.  Today the Queen Fid was responsible for getting the FIDS to the correct place at the allotted time.  When not being a Queen,  Pips writes a blog of her time on board and this can be found HERE

Noon Position Report Saturday 4th November 2017 

Latitude: 60 42.07 S
Longitude: 045 34.80 W
Bearing: 45 T, 1 Nm from Signy
Distance Travelled: 229.4
Total Distance Travelled: 696
Steam Time: 21.5
Total Steam Time: 61.5
Average Speed: 10.7
Total Average Speed: 11.3
Wind: Direction SSW, Force 5
Sea State: Slight
Air Temp: -7.5 C Sea Temp: 0.0 C
Pressure: 982.4 Tendency (3 hrs): Rising

 

Previous updates from the current trip.

Previous updates from my last  trip,  to the Arctic in the summer of 2017

Mike Gloistein
gm0hcq @ gm0hcq.com