Last updated: Saturday 31st March 2018    

As the sun rose on Saturday morning the RRS James Clark Ross was making her approach to Tristan da Cunha,  the remotest inhabited island on the planet.  It is remote for a number of reasons but mainly for being in the middle of nowhere and not having a scheduled service to and from the island.  With a population of about 250,  it is a small community that occupies a very small part of what is still an active volcano, with the last eruption being in 1961.

My first sighting of this volcanic outpost was as the sun was rising this morning.

Approaching Tristan da Cunha this morning with the settlement of Edinburgh at the base of the volcano.

The visit to the island was going to be brief but there was a lot that needed to be done before the ship could continue on the passage north.  The first task was to get the officials from the island on board,  which included the Administrator and the Policeman (the latter to stamp all the passports).  Whilst this was taking place the next stage was to get a boat,  with trailer,  off the island and onto the Aft Deck.

The harbour on the island is very small and so it is not possible for ships to get in and alongside.  This means that all cargo has to be put onto a barge,  which is powered by two very large outboard motors.  The barge was used to get the trailer out to the ship, and once loaded the boat was then lifted on board.

The Fishery Patrol boat safely on board and secured on the Aft Deck.

Once this had been correctly stowed,  passenger movements could start.  During the course of the day all that wanted to go ashore and visit the island did so and a number of island residents,  including a group of school children,  came out for a tour of the ship.  In addition we embarked three people for the short journey to St Helena.  As I mentioned earlier it is not the easiest of places to get to or from and in the past when there has been a medical emergency it has not been unknown for passing ships to stop and assist in getting people off of the island.

A custom when visiting remote places is to exchange plaques and our visit to Tristan da Cunha was no exception,  with the Administrator getting a RRS James Clark Ross plaque and the senior scientists and Captain getting one from the island.

At about mid-day I was fortunate to be able to leave the ship for a few hours to have a brief look around Edinburgh.  Weather conditions today were excellent,  which is not always the case.  If the swell is too big it will close the harbour and this means that it would not be possible to get on or off the island,  adding another reason for it being so remote.

The sign greeting visitors to Tristan da Cunha,  with the volcano rising up in the background.

Over the next few days I will continue with my visit to this beautiful island. 

The JCR departed the island late in the afternoon and is now heading north for St Helena,  another remote island in the South Atlantic,  although it does have a nice new airport making getting to and from the island relatively easy.  This is just as well as the science team,  on completion of the work around the island,  will be leaving the James Clark Ross and flying home from there.

Noon Position Report Saturday 31st  March 2018

Latitude: 37 03.4 S
Longitude: 012 18.3 W
Bearing: Off Edinburgh, Tristan da Cunha
Cruise Number: JR17004
Distance Travelled: 131
Total Distance Travelled: 1073
Steam Time: 15.2
Total Steam Time: 138.9
Average Speed: 8.6
Total Average Speed: 7.7
Wind: Direction WSW, Force 3
Sea State: Slight
Air Temp: 18.8 C Sea Temp: 20 C
Pressure: 1020 Tendency (3hrs): Falling

Mike Gloistein
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