RRS Bransfield - Position Report 16

Date Sunday 24th January 1999
Time 1500 (UTC-3)
Position Latitude 43°04' South 
Longitude 056°51' West
Next destination Stanley, Falkland Islands
ETA 26th January 1999 
1100 (UTC)
Total distance 15045.5 Nautical Miles 
(Since departing Grimsby on 17th October 1998)
Current weather Clear and sunny
Wind SSE, 10kts
Sea state Slight
Air temperature 12.5°C
Sea temperature 15.9°C

Ship's track - Updated every six hours from the weather observations sent to Bracknell weather centre - direct from BAS homepage.


The weather on the way north from Stanley was not as good as we had hoped. Whilst not bad, we did not see any nice clear, calm and hot sunny days. The BBQ planned for Sunday night had to be postponed until Monday, and even then it was not the best of weather for such an event.

Tuesday morning saw the Bransfield off the South American city of Montevideo. Lightning could be seen in the distance and there was some slight rain. The pilot joined the vessel at 0800 and we finally tied up to Deposito 11 at 0930. Whilst this operation was taking place the heavens opened and rain the size of golf balls fell....and this is summer! Once the local currency was onboard and distributed amongst Officers and Crew, it was time to go ashore and relax for those not on duty.

Just outside the main dock gates there is an old British built railway station (although there was never a railway line there!) and this is now the 'meat market', an area of restaurants and an excellent place to have lunch.

With the vessel not due to depart Montevideo until Friday, this gave ample time for all aboard to go into the city and enjoy the shops, cafes and bars. Eating out is not expensive and the food (especially the meat) is of excellent quality with portions tending to be on the large side. Several people on the ship ventured further afield, with visits up the coast to Punta Del Este (a very posh beach resort about 120km away), and to Buenos Aries, just across the River Plate and accessible by a high speed catamaran from the main dock area. A number of the crew went out on shopping expeditions (caused by being denied shops for such long periods when at sea perhaps?). This year the thing to be seen buying was the humble rug, with at least six being purchased to decorate homes when we get back to the UK.

The port of Montevideo was very busy whilst we were there. When we first arrived the pilot could not decide exactly where he wanted the ship to berth and we spent some time moving one way a few metres and then all of a sudden we would have to move a few metres the other way. About an hour after we were in position we had to move another ten metres to allow some ships to berth behind us. Cargo being discharged ranged from cars and vans off a small barge, sharks from a small fishing vessel in front of us to containers from large container vessels. Two large tourist ships also visited during our brief stay. Over the last few years a lot of money has been spent to improve the facilities within the dock area, with many of the old crumbling buildings having been knocked down and replaced. A new ferry terminal has been completed and the chances of falling down a deep hole in the quay are almost nil now.....although it has happened in the past!

Montevideo is the only city where whilst on the local buses I have experienced salesmen jumping aboard and in-between stops try to sell the virtues of such items as chewing gum and tea towels! I have even seen buskers jump on and play a few songs in the hope of making some money! It is not a city for those who enjoy early evenings. Most people don't think about eating until 2100, and it is not uncommon to see whole families in a restaurant at mid-night, including young children. Whilst we were in this week there was a big international football match being played and it was fascinating watching everyone in the bars glued to the match on the TV. In the streets people would stand at the widows of shops and bars, looking in to see the game (I would have gone in myself and at least had a seat and a beer!) and, should you by any chance not be near a TV when the home team scores a goal you don't need to worry as every car, bus and lorry driver has been listening to the game on the radio and suddenly they all (and I do mean ALL) start hooting. Not something one could imagine happening in Grimsby when a goal is scored.

All good things must come to an end and the ship is prepared for sailing on Friday afternoon. Whilst in Montevideo the senior Officers have changed over, with Captain Lawrence, the Chief Engineer, Chief Officer, 2nd Engineer and the Electrician being replaced. Captain John Marshall is now in command for the second half of the season and the journey back to Grimsby. Following a final lunch at the meat market the ship departed the berth at 1600, bound once again for Stanley and the Falkland Islands to embark final cargo for Halley and some personnel who will be visiting Halley for the last call of the season along with some personnel for Signy base. The weather on departure was fine and sunny and once away we had a following wind and sea.

Saturday morning and more sea trials were conducted to check the main motor bearings are still working correctly, and following several hours of tests, we continue on a course of 184°. All being well we should arrive in Stanley on Tuesday morning at 0800.

....and finally, just talking with the Officer of the Watch and he informs me that we have just had some sightings of Fin whales, about ten in all.

Departing Montevideo breakwater - Friday 22nd January 1999


The Pink Palace, Buenos Aries


Last updated 10/02/1999 - webmaster@dartcom.co.uk