Saturday 26 January 2008
V&A Waterfront Marina
We are on board the RRS Ernest Shackleton. It’s 11.05 South African time. All crew are to be back on the ship by 12 noon and the ship leaves at 1pm! I’m in the ship’s cabin with Andy Cheatle (the M&E services contractor for the Halley VI build) and we are both waiting with anticipation and expectation to set sail. It’s been a bit of a wait. We expected the ship to leave on Tuesday 22 January, but missing parts for the generators held us up.
It’s getting exciting and it will be a relief to get going, but in the process of getting to site we have to cross one of the worst waters in the world – the Southern Ocean and the Weddell Sea! It will take between 10 and 12 days to reach Halley from Cape Town (god willing) and all reports and feedback from people who have done this crossing on the Shackleton say we are in for an interesting ride. It will be a real test of our sea legs. On the one hand the route can be very choppy, and on the other hand the Shackleton reportedly ‘bobs about a lot’.
I am prepared with three months' supply of Stugeron and there are more serious sea sickness patches on the ship. We are reliably informed that it is a great help to understand the rhythm of the ship’s movement and so anticipate the movement. Apparently the nose of the ship leads a figure of eight. Just in case, I have a secret supply of plastic bags next to me, as there is only one loo in the cabin and there are two of us sharing. We have also been advised to strap down or stow all possessions in the cabin.