RRS Bransfield - Position Report 28

Date Sunday 18th April 1999
Time 1200 (UTC-3)
Position Latitude 13°27' South
Longitude 038°28' West
Next destination Grimsby (4670.4 Nautical Miles)
ETA 6th May 1999 @ 0846UTC
Total distance 27288.5 Nautical Miles 
(Since departing Grimsby on 17th October 1998)
Current weather Mostly clear and sunny
Wind Light
Sea state Good
Air temperature 30.4°C
Sea temperature 28.7°C

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


The weather changed on Sunday (11th April) afternoon and there were several heavy rain showers, but with some patience these could be avoided and so did not cause a great deal of disruption to the trips ashore. The local football match ended in a three all draw, with several players being sent off, all in all an exciting game.

Monday morning saw the final disembarkation of personnel not sailing with the ship back to Grimsby, with nine flying back to the UK and the remaining five staying in South America for holidays. Embarked were one member of staff from HQ and the wife and two daughters of the Chief Officer.

At 1600, with the Pilot on board, two tugs were made fast to the Bransfield and the lines ashore were pulled back on board and slowly the ship was manoeuverd and then headed out of the port for the final leg of our long journey home. Once the ship was well clear of the breakwater and able to turn for the north, the course was set to take us up the coast of Uruguay and towards the Brazilian coast. The weather, once at sea, was not too good. The wind was up to Force 7 and the sea was rather rough, making our first night at sea somewhat uncomfortable. By Tuesday morning the wind had come round and we now had a following swell, making a speed of 12.5 knots. An average speed of 11.26 knots will be required for the journey back to Grimsby if we are to make the tide at 0846 UTC on May 6th.

The weather steadily improved and during the course of the week the decks were busily being cleaned and painted. The journey through the tropics is a good period to carry out maintenance on the ships superstructure as, with the weather generally being good, it is ideal for the 'chipping and painting' work that is needed to keep any ship in good order. The worst thing that one can do to a ship, from a husbandry point of view, is put it near salt water! By the time the Bransfield enters the lock gates of Grimsby she should be gleaming and looking as good as new.

The FIDS on board also help out with work around the ship. Rob Tulk, who was at Rothera for two winters, is a carpenter and is in great demand on board as these days ships don't carry carpenters and so he will be very busy on the way home. The others are helping out in the Engine Room or on Deck and work for a few hours each day. The remainder of the time is spent soaking up the sun and relaxing in the lovely warm weather.

The Officers Wardroom has been reduced to an area of mayhem as Marion, three, and Megan, five, have taken over and now seem to be in charge. The girls have settled down to life at sea without any problems and certainly seem to be enjoying themselves to the full and it is nice to hear the laughter of children having been away from family and friends for so long.

As the week progressed so the temperature increased. The engine room is now at about 47°C and those working down there are having to drink lots of water and take extra salt to help cope with the effects of the heat. The first flying fish have now been seen, although no signs of any nests on board as yet, and joined by masked boobies, large seabirds with long wings, wedge-shaped tails and stout, conical bills. These birds are fascinating to watch as they feed, by means of plunge diving from a height of about 15 metres.

Saturday saw our makeshift swimming pool being filled for the first time and in the evening the first barbecue of the trip home was held. The engineers had worked hard during the week to get the rotisserie working as we had a lamb and a suckling pig to cook, and in the end they found an old twelve volt windscreen wiper motor and using an old bicycle gear train and chain had the thing up and running perfectly. Aside from the pig and lamb, other items on offer for the barbecue were trout, burgers, sausages, steak, chicken, baked potatoes and corn on the cob.

The Officers are busy writing handover notes and cruise reports to pass onto the next team to man the Bransfield. Items no longer required, such as Antarctic clothing, is being packed away (although judging from reports that we have had from the UK we may well still be needing them when we do get back home)!

The evenings, with clear skies, are giving ample opportunity to star watch and look for passing satellites and meteors. As we travel up the coast we have also seen some excellent lightning displays in the distance over the land. This is a good chance for taking fixes of the stars as well as the sun during the day, and whilst the ship is fitted with two Global Position System (GPS) navigation units, the Deck Officers continue to take sights whenever they can.

Forthcoming Events

Tonight the ship's clocks will be advanced one hour to UTC-2

GM0HCQ/MM QRV 14052kHz @ 1900z & 2300z and 21052kHz @1400z. Please note change of times.

The next update will be written on Sunday 25th April 1999 and should be published on Monday 26th April 1999.

A typical stall in the Meat Market, Montevideo.


The Scow being used as a swimming pool.


4th Officer Ian Heffernan and AB Paul Clarke taking a sight.
Paul is training to become a Deck Officer and this is an excellent opportunity to practice the skills required. This sight was taken at 1130 today and gave a perfect Latitude fix. Further fixes are required to establish the Longitude.


Saturday nights Barbecue, note the motor driving the spit on the BBQ!
Chief Officer John Harper is seen talking to a somewhat shy Chief Engineer Peter Brigden.


...and finally, Dentist Wendy Scott giving Stuart Wallace a check-up, helped by friendly nurse Jez Ralph!


Last updated 21/04/1999 - webmaster@dartcom.co.uk