Sunday, 22 April 2012

Plancius heads for home

Just a quick entry to say how things went yesterday. Plancius and their tug decided that they had a weather window to head for South America, so action stations were taken to assist them with lines and getting them away from the berth.


I was on the stern lines, whilst the two Harbour Launches were prepared to assist with pushing. Paula and James on the stern launch, Matt and John on the bow launch. The tug was on the port side.


The stern launch pushed and tug pulled. With the Plancius directing power to her bow thruster she slowly edged away from the wharf with the bow launch giving a helping hand to slowly guide her into the middle of the cove.


20120421-DSC_1294-EditPlancius being pushed away from KEP wharf


The ship was slowly turned around, and the tug gave a pull to stern to give plenty of room between Plancius and the wharf. The Plancius was then able to slowly motor out of the cove, with both Launches as escorts should assistance have been required, and the tug following closely to stern.


A very well done to everyone who has had an involvement with the Plancius and her time here, all the BAS staff at KEP, the government officers, the expedition staff, the ship crew, and anyone else I’ve forgotten to mention!

Obviously this event has some international news interest, and I am probably the only person to have photos of the event, so I would like to reiterate that all images and text are       copyright Alastair Wilson 2012,        no reproduction of any part is allowed without permission! Please use the contact details in the info section should you wish to buy a licence for use. Cheers :-)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Plancius and the Ushuaia

Today was pretty busy as shipping goes around here. The Fisheries patrol ship was in the bay, Plancius was alongside the jetty, the Ushuaia was coming in to pick up the passengers, the tug was here to tow Plancius, and the JCR came to do a bit of science work in Cumberland Bay!

20120418-DSC_1143 Pharos SG the patrol ship, Otway the tug, and cruise ship Ushuaia.

I made sure I was up and ready early so that I could take some photos. As ships have come through I’ve managed to photograph most of them, so now I’ve decided to try and photograph them all! It’s best to get them coming into the cove, as the angle is a bit better and you have the ship coming towards you.

20120418-DSC_1146 The Ushuaia coming into King Edward Cove

The conditions were excellent for the first part of the day, luggage and food was transferred off the Plancius onto the Ushuaia, followed by the passengers and the expedition staff.

20120418-DSC_1149Loading gear into zodiacs for the transfer

Before we knew it, they were heading out of the cove, homeward bound. Some of us popped out onto the back decking to give a wave, but apart from a couple of staff members there was no one else on deck to wave goodbye. They were probably inside having a briefing.

20120418-DSC_1198The Ushuaia rounding Hope Point

The cove was then clear for the tug to enter. Busy preparing the line for towing the tug anchored in the cove to await instructions. However conditions were on the turn. The wind was quickly picking up, and soon it was obvious that nothing more would be happening any time soon. The tug isn’t particularly big, and so they have to be sure that the weather conditions are going to be favourable before they leave. And hauling the Ushuaia off the wharf with a gale blowing her onto the wharf would be impossible anyway.

20120418-DSC_1203 Otway the tug

So we now await the next part of the story! Waiting for clear weather, and awaiting the return of the JCR who should be in on Friday to do the final supply of the base before heading back to the UK for the winter, our ‘Last call’, and the start of our winter. Should be interesting with a ship parked in the way, maybe we can keep it as a hotel for the winter!

20120418-DSC_1204 Otway entering the cove, with a hint of a rainbow

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Unexpected visitors!

Harbour launch and Plancius Having been on a nice long weekend away to Harpon for the Easter weekend Tommy and I returned to KEP on Tuesday morning (will blog about the trip later) to find the expedition ship Plancius in King Edward Cove. We were slightly puzzled as she was supposed to have been visiting on Sunday. We quickly discovered from the others on base that all was not as it should be, and that Plancius had some engine/power problems and had to limp back to KEC for safety. Some part of the power system has died meaning she can’t do more than three or four knots, and, if the wind picks up then there isn’t enough power to stay bow into the weather, a potential disaster should any sort of unpleasant weather rear its head, which down here is highly likely. At anchor in the cove, should the anchor drag then there are fairly ‘nice’ beaches all around, and help and facilities are close at hand for the guests, staff and crew.

Plancius with South Georgia mountains behindPlacius heading into the cove

Two harbour launches and PlanciusThe harbour launches by Plancius in the cove

Plancius from the harbour launchThe base commander, government officers and boating officers went aboard to meet with the captain and formulate a plan. The idea  was to come alongside the KEP jetty, thus alleviating any possibility of anchor dragging, and allowing passengers, crew etc. to  stretch their legs and see some more of the local sights.

With the ships crew having made a few repairs the passengers were put ashore for the day, and a sea trial was carried out. Afterwards Plancius headed back towards base, where we met and escorted her into the cove with our two Harbour Launches, and be available to give a helping shove in the right direction if needed!

Jet boats alongside each other for planning next moveMatt and Tommy were to be in the ‘stern launch’, and Paula and myself in the ‘bow launch’. Plancius slowly made her way into the cove, and the breeze and what propulsion she had was excellently used by the captain to drift onto the wharf. Matt and Tommy gave a few assisting pushes at the stern to stop it drifting too far in, and we stood by ready at the bow, eager to do something, but in the end not being needed. All the lines were then secured, and eventually we were stood down.

Paula, happiest boaty ever!Having only had one boating officer for the summer, we welcome back Paula to KEP. When we first arrived on South Georgia Paula was also one of the departing boaties, having spent 2 years here. After a break of 15 months she has returned, and we are very glad to have her join our wintering team, you couldn’t meet a nicer person :-)



Plancius alongside Plancius safely alongside on a beautiful day

Grytviken and Mt Hodges Grytviken with Mt Hodges behind

Base now has a slightly odd feel to it. Having just been reduced to 9 people with the summer visitors leaving we have a small ship of people going for walks locally, and visiting the conference room to send emails home. Despite the eventfulness of their trip they all seem very friendly, courteous, and incredibly appreciative of the help and welcome we have extended to them. I have to especially say hello to anyone in Holland reading, as there are a group of birders onboard from Holland who have become something of front page news with their stranding!

King Edward Point base and PlanciusPlancius and our little base