Monday, 1 March 2010

Force Twelve

Hurricane force winds.  Almost as good as a landing! Certainly the excitement is there. Tell me, what are you going to get better mileage out of during dinner parties at home?  Flat calm seas with blue skies or the day you rode a hurricane while on the Bransfield Strait and the Scotia Sea and you calmy helped yourself to a second desert at the Italian inspired buffet? Of course not everyone on board shares my enthusiasm.  To some it is like a ride at the fair only the off switch is broken. Sheer hell.  Please make it stop.  For others it is one of the more effective diet systems in the world. 
I have worked on a lot of ships in Antarctica over a period of many years.  There are very few ships down here that would ride this storm as well as Fram.  True, we were not getting 15m+ wave heights like we would get in the open ocean.  Our sea heights were more in the neighbourhood of 8-10m.  We were still in the somewhat sheltered waters of the Bransfield. 
Despite the incredibly high winds, our lecture program was very well attended throughout the day.
Our main objective was to do some scenic cruising in the Point Wild area of Elephant Island.  We rode through the same stormy seas that Shackleton and his men went through on his tiny boat the James Caird but we were sheltered, comfy cosy and warm. We could only shudder and imagine their misery.  We had brief glimpses of Elephant Island but in this storm we were doing well to get close and to be there relatively on time.

Today's photograph was taken from the bridge and is of the view of the Able Bodied Seaman that is on watch every night. The bright lights are the three search lights that are always on during nocturnal navigation.