Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

1st January 2009

January 2, 2009

All the best for the new year.

We have finally made our way through the maze of ice fields and into the Ross Sea.

It has taken us 6 days to cover 300 mile of longitude to the south. In that time we probably traveled around 1,000 nautical miles as we weaved our way along leads, around ice bergs, between ice floes and through broken melt ice as we searched for the safest track in.

1 of the 100's of ice bergs we're seen in the last few weeks.

1 of the 100's of ice bergs we're seen in the last few weeks.

But it’s all worth while now that we are on the fishing grounds and enjoying some good calm weather conditions that are typical in the Ross Sea for this time of year.

When the ice bridge finally thaws, in another 2 or 3 weeks, the weather pattern will change again and allow some of those Southern Ocean low pressure systems to track further south. Until then, we are quite happy with sea conditions that you are more likely to find on a lake than here in Antarctica.

I find it difficult to describe the many different sights we see in these waters, even though its all just ice. Anyway, we all just keep clicking off photos and hope a good one comes up now and then.

An ice flow with shattered ice piled on top. This is a small scale example of the pressure the ice fields come under when it all starts to thaw in spring. I wouldn't like to be down here then.

An ice flow with shattered ice piled on top. This is a small scale example of the pressure the ice fields come under when it all starts to thaw in spring. I wouldn't like to be down here then.


Ice flow with shattered ice piled on top.

Ice flow with shattered ice piled on top.

I’ll have some fishing photos soon.

Rgds: John B.

Ps: There were 4 commitments to knock off smoking as a new year resolution.

We’ll see how that goes in the next few days.

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26th December 2008

December 27, 2008

Day 33 . Boxing day.

Mike serving xmas dinner

Mike serving xmas dinner

After a good meal and some R&R its back to work, weaving our way south toward the fishing grounds.

We all take turns at lookout searching for good leads that will take us south.

Me searching for leads through the ice

Me searching for leads through the ice

We are now 80nm south of the ice edge with around 250nm to go before we exit the ice bridge and enter the Ross Sea.

When we finally get there we could have traveled over 600miles weaving back and forth, in and out to find the safest track.

Today we have a long low swell from the NW, this is good news for us. A big swell (next to the warm water currents that thaw the Ross Sea from the inside out) is probably the next strongest force that breaks the sea ice up and speeds the thawing process. While we stopped for dinner 3 leads opened up that weren’t there before. We’re heading down one of them now.

Rgds: John B.

23rd December 2008

December 23, 2008

Yesterday afternoon CCAMLR issued notification to all vessels that areas B,C and G would be closed to all fishing at midnight 22nd December 2008. After that time we must make all efforts to haul our lines from the water and cease fishing in this area. Now all vessels are faced with the same dilemma, how to get access from the northern grounds to the southern grounds in the Ross Sea when there is still 360 mile of slowly melting sea ice between here and there. Indications that we have from satellite images are showing several possible tracks that we could take. But for now we must wait for at least a few days as more information comes in so we can find the safest course through the maze of leads and open water.

At least we will have plenty of down time to enjoy a good Christmas dinner without having to rush away on deck to start our shifts.

One of the most fascinating things to come across in Antarctic waters, are “Jade” ice bergs. I have attached some photos of the only Jade bergs that I have seen in 10 years of fishing these waters. Hopefully we get to see another one this season. Try and Google (Jade icebergs) they are fascinating.

Jade iceberg

Jade iceberg

Jade iceberg 2

Jade iceberg 2

Jade iceberg 3

Jade iceberg 3

Rgds: John B.

21st December 2008

December 22, 2008

Stopped and drifting at the ice edge, 66 58s 177 30e. Weather conditions, SE 25-30kts, constant snow showers, very low cloud base, visibility 500m, calm sea with 2m N-NE swell.

Ice condition: open water to the North and 7 to 8/10th pack ice to the South.

During this part of the season we have plenty of down time while waiting for ice to thaw and leads (pathways through the ice pack) to open. Right now the crew are being briefed by the 1st mate and bosuns about SOP’s (Safe Operating Procedures). In the last few days we have modified some of our procedures and further training is required for some of the newer crew to bring them up to speed with safety aspects. We’re also taking the time to update our hazard register and run through, with the crew, some of the potentially dangerous activities throughout the ship during day to day activity.

SOP (Safe Operating Procedures) briefing, Left to right, Tangi ( 1st mate) Shand, Noel, Theo (boson), Aaron, Chevy and Kahu.

SOP (Safe Operating Procedures) briefing, Left to right, Tangi ( 1st mate) Shand, Noel, Theo (boson), Aaron, Chevy and Kahu.

It is also a good chance to recheck the fishing gear, have a clean up or maybe write an e-mail, watch a movie or just chill out and do nothing for a change.

Ren burning rubbish 3 days ago, it was a nice day then

Ren burning rubbish 3 days ago, it was a nice day then

Bull splicing float lines

Bull splicing float lines

To go fishing in Antarctica you have to be patient. The last thing we want is to get into difficulties this far from home.

Rgds: John B.

19th December 2008

December 22, 2008

Today we crossed the magic line into the Antarctic Circle at:
66 35s and 177 30e.

Little by little we’re working our way south toward one of our favorite fishing spots, in past seasons we have done quite well there, obviously I can’t tell you exactly where it is, it’s a secret. One of the best things about this area is the easy ground for our lines to settle on, unlike areas to the north where the rocky bottom is a problem and stuck lines, huge tangles and strong currents can be dangerous for the crew in the hauling room.

During the last 10 days we’re seeing more and more sea ice and ice bergs as we move south. On the last count we had 10 large ice bergs on our 12mile radar range and 7/10th first year sea ice. To navigate in 7/10th sea ice it’s a bit like following a gigantic maze that zig zags for hundreds of miles with just as many dead ends. When we come to the end of a lead (the term used for an open track in the ice) we must turn back and look for another track or lead that will hopefully takes us in the general direction that we need to go. Sometimes this process takes days or even weeks depending on the season and how the ice is thawing, or isn’t with some seasons.

Heavy pack too thick for us to go further

Heavy pack too thick for us to go further

Many factors govern the rate that sea ice thaws. The obvious ones are, water temp, air temp, (sunny days are good but few and far between) wind strength and direction, sea swell, tidal movement and the east setting Southern Ocean Currents all combine to break the ice up. We receive the most up to date satellite images daily from our support team back home and we can also access the National Ice Center web sight for more information if needed. Check it out at

http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/antarctic/index.htm

then click on Ross Sea Central and you can sort of see where we are on the big picture.

For now we are just stooging along, setting the odd line in clear water as we find it while we wait for the ice condition to open up and allow easy access into the Ross Sea.

The leads are small now but growing fast

The leads are small now but growing fast

The photos were taken during the last few days. One shows a small lead toward the south and the other is ice too thick for us to enter.

Rgds: John B.

25th November 2008 – 12:00hrs

December 3, 2008

Antarctic Chieftain sailed from port Nelson bound for Antarctica and CCAMLR  ( The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources ) waters.

We had a slight delay while waiting for some paper work to arrive but eventually got underway after dropping our harbour pilot off and making a course to round Stephens Island and head through Cook Straight.

ETA into CCAMLR waters 29th Nov, weather permitting. 

Total crew for the trip;
John Bennett – Skipper
Tangi – 1st Mate
Pete – Chief Engineer
Karl – 2nd Engineer
Mathew – 2nd Mate
Steve – Factory Manager
Mike – Cook
Renata – Boson
Theodore – Leading hand
Paerau – Leading hand
Christopher – Deck hand
Shand – Deck hand
Nicholas – Deck hand
Noel – Deck hand
Chevy – Deck hand
Aaron – Deck hand
Joshua – Deck hand
Adam – Deck hand
Kahu – Deck hand
Noelan – Deck hand
Marli – MAF fisheries observer
Peter – CCAMLR observer.

Weather conditions, Nly 25 – 30kts on the port shoulder, mod sea, easy going at 10kts. Boat muster and fire drill are scheduled for 18:00hrs.

Rgds: John B.