Personal December 6: Falklands – Signy

(Note from Felix: This is being posted on December 9 as email somehow doesn’t

seem to get through BAS on weekends. So the first update has already arrived,

and is sitting in the comments section.)

Thanks to all for jumping on the website comments boxes… it’s great to have

the feeling of a conversation from such a remote place! Days have actuallly

flown by since my last entry and there’s no chance of boredom setting in. Out

on deck, sea birds, also saw some dolphins and then today, my first icebergs!


The Falklands were surreal, well worth a visit were it not that they’re so

damn far away from everywhere. People say there’s a similarity with the Hebrides

and I believe it although surely I should have been to the latter first? Topsy

turvey. Go to the Shackleton diary website

for photos of the place. I don’t know what I expected (Patagonia?) but not that.

Long white sandy beaches on the edge of bleak and barren emptiness. Windswept,

wild, more remote than remote but never far from a reminder of the huge military


Penguins on the beach are as comical in real life as all the documentaries

suggest and just inland we found them nesting, hundreds of them sitting on eggs,

building up nests with pebbles, no fear, just metres away. The thriving metropolis

of Stanley has a handful of pubs and great shops that specialise in unlikely

combinations like carpets and cd players or earrings and tracksuits. The accent

is some kind of cross-breed of kiwi, west country and south african with an

unknown corner of Scotland thrown in for a giggle. Sounds great though; the

chameleon dialect of english.

Back on the ship, we’ve been sailing for a couple of days and are due into

Signy tomorrow morning. The sea there is too shallow for the Shackleton to get

right up to land so unloading of cargo and people is usually carried out by

boat. There’s been a lot more sea ice than usual lately though so they were

hoping be able to dock right up against the ice and walk/skidoo in. Difficulties

have however already arisen as recent temperatures around +10C mean the sea

ice is rapidly melting (so we can’t walk/skidoo there) and there’s also lots

of ice floating around (so we can’t get in by little boat). I have no idea what

will happen but it sounds like getting ashore is unlikely for me. A shame since

there’s meant to be wonderful wildlife and walking to be experienced there.

Considering how little there is to do, time on the ship has been flying by.

I described a typical day in the comments of the last entry but added to that

tough life ofsleeping, eating, seawatching, eating, drinking and sleeping we

have now started adding parties. Roger should also be bristling with pride knowing

his daughter is playing backgammon and cribbage every night…all those painful

nights teaching me game etiquette as a kid have paid off! I think there might

even be a photo in the next Shackleton diary to prove it.

That’s all for now. Summary is, I’m as happy as a kid in a bathtub (with loads

of bubbles and icebergs and dolphins and flying things and friends).Rh.

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5 Responses to Personal December 6: Falklands – Signy

  1. Rhian says:

    Okay, now I’m in Antarctica!! Woke up this morning to the munching sound of

    the ship crunching through ice and light pouring through the porthole. ICE!

    And on the ice? Penguins! And seals! And more ice! Ice, ice everywhere!

    It’s amazing. Ice ice ice ice ice ice. munch munch.

  2. Erika says:

    Did you get off the boat?

    Are you playing Kalaha as well?

    And you are able to have parties on boat? I thought you’d all be sea sick.

    The way you describe it, you have a pretty perfect job at the moment. Long may it last.

  3. Rhian says:

    We’ve left Signy and are moving on to Bird Island and KEP next. It’s funny how people can spend days perfectly content on a ship that is moving with nothing to see really and not much to do. However, put them

    on the same ship within site of land and forbid them to go there and they do their top, get bored, get frustrated and skulk around like kids refused sweeties. I guess it’s the same everywehere. Most content when you don’t

    know, or care, what you’re missing.

  4. Erika says:

    Looking forward to hearing how they unloaded.

    Any chance of getting onto Bird Island?

  5. rhian says:

    Mum: no, I didn’t get off the boat. Signy was ice mecca though so I was happy just watching the world from the ship’s ‘monkey island’ up top. The relief was carried out by us pulling up to sea ice and them skiing out to meet us. Boxes and crates of food and equipment were then pulled by sledge across the ice. Yes, manhauled. Just like the olden days. Quite amazing really. Thankfully, no-one fell in though the ice wasn’t looking too strong to me.

    Yes, Kalaha has come out and is a nice change from poker, cribbage and backgammon. Saw scrabble today too and was reminded last week of why I always found Monopoly so incredibly boring. Parties, yes. Seasick, no. Haven’t been seasick yet and long may it remain so. Except for one rough night between Monte and the Falklands, most people have been okay. I find the rocking motion quite comforting actually..lulls me to sleep at night.

    And Amy, me excited? You must have the wrong friend. Glad the official website looks good… hope none of the photos are too incriminating. I actually can’t access it right now so don’t know what’s up there (or, for that matter, what Felix is filling his site with between my daydreams). I think it’s better that way; if I truly realised this rubbish was going up on a public site, I wouldn’t be writing anything at all!

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