Thursday, 17 March 2011

Journey to the Falklands Part 2

Continuing from the last post.....

Bunk on the James Clark Ross
One's own napkin!
After passing through the channels we had a couple more calm days before we would hit the Drake's Passage. Life on the boat was very civilised and we were well looked after by the crew. How great it was to be cooked for by someone else even if it was sometimes a bit of a struggle to eat.

On the way to the Falklands the boat undertook several scientific experiments. This mainly involved working with the 'CTDs' (an oceanagraphic instrument which measures Conductivity (used to assess the saltiness / salinity of the water), Temperature and Depth in conjunction with automated sample bottles which enabled water samples to be taken at various depths .The CTD and water bottles were lowered to depths of up to 4000m in the Drake Passage! As the crane lowered it made the boat tip at a very alarming angle!

Elephant Island
In the background of the photo above you can just make out Elephant Island. The island is most famous as the desolate refuge of Ernest Shackleton and his crew in 1916. Following the loss of their ship Endurance in Weddell Sea ice, the 28 exhausted men reached Elephant Island after an ordeal on drifting ice floes.

Realising that there was no chance of rescue by any passing ships, Shackleton decided to set out for South Georgia where he knew there was a whaling station. In one of the most incredible feats in the history of sailing and navigation, Shackleton sailed off with five other men on an 800-mile (1,287 km) voyage in an open lifeboat arriving at South Georgia almost two weeks later. His second in command, John Robert Francis “Frank” Wild remained in charge of the 21 other men on Elephant Island for more than four months while Shackleton led attempts to return with a rescue ship.
According to Frank Worsley, Shackleton's captain, the men pronounced the island with a silent 't' and an 'h' prefixed, which makes it into Hell-of-an-Island.
Tha amazing story of Shackleton and his crew did make my acute sea-sickness and raging toothache kind of pale into insignificance but I was very glad when the Falkland Islands came into view and I could stand on solid ground again!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Back Again!

I'm the good-looking one in the back of the boat
Hello Everyone! Just when you thought it was safe to go onto the internet, I pop up again. Sorry it has been so long. Times have been busy and with the Base now winding down at the start of winter I now have more time to update you on all my comings and goings over the past 3 months!

Oh ....and before I forget to say. Please remember that all the photos on the blog are 'clickable' - i.e. if you want to see the picture full size just double click on them and then click the 'back' button to get back to the blog. we've got all the technical stuff out of the way.....

Ambulance for Lorna Lomax
 In December I had to be medically evacuated to the Falkland Islands. Did you hear that? MEDICALLY EVACUATED. It's got a lovely ring to it don't you think?! To be honest there really wasn't any emergency. I managed to crack a tooth and despite being bent into various positions under the base's X-Ray machine the Doctors here couldn't really do anything for me. Pictures of my tooth were beamed by satellite to dentists in Cambridge who recommended that I should be sent to the hospital on the Falkland Islands for treatment. Unfortunately the Dash plane was out of service so it meant a 6 day journey on the James Clark Ross and a delay on the Falklands until the plane could be repaired.

Leaving Rothera
I wasn't really looking forward to the trip. As you might remember it would mean crossing the infamous Drake's Passage.  Here's a bit of info for you.....The Drake Passage is the stretch of water between the most southerly tip of South America and the most northerly tip of the Antarctic peninsula. It is the place where not only are there high and strong winds that blow most of the time, but where the "Circumpolar Current" is squeezed through its narrowest gap. This is a Westerly flowing current that flows around Antarctica powered by Antarctic winds. It flows at the rate of around 140 million cubic metres (tonnes) of water per second, or the equivalent of 5000 Amazon rivers.

The Drakes passage has been described as the roughest stretch of water in the world. To reach the Falklands from the Antarctic peninsula it is necessary to traverse this stretch of water at right angles to the current flow. The result is often very lumpy seas, corkscrewing boats and a very sick Rothera chef!

Off to the Falklands
I was also concerned about leaving my chef team behind. The base was getting busier by the day and I was worried about the amount of work that would entail for Issy and Alan. But the Base Commander enlisted other people to do the prep and I was assured that everything would be OK.
The first part of the journey to The Falklands took us through the stunning Numayer and Lamaire Channels. These really were awesome beyond words so I'll just stick in some of my better photos instead!
Nicknamed "Kodak Gap" by some, you can see why it is one of the top tourist destinations in Antarctica and why it kept my mind of my toothache for a few hours!