A dull grey sky left little channels of water trickling from mountains of imported coal as we weived through containers and fuel terminals to find the RRS Ernest Shackelton’s birth. Apparently, even by the standards of industrial ports, Immingam is grim. The ship’s crew reflected the weather, with their hoods up and heads down, working fast to get everything on board before their last night on shore. We were running late and the pressure was on.
Things brightened up once inside. Dave the busar gave a friendly introduction, sorted the paperwork and found my cabin. Until I gain a room mate at Montevideo it will feel palacial, having en-suite facilities and being larger than many university halls I’ve seen. Mum and Dad stayed for dinner aboard – an excellent meal served with officers and crew eating together in the same mess. Mates from the summer’s training had by now arrived, and we sat in the bar chatting into the evening.
Saturday dawned a bit brighter, so we headed into Grimsby for last minute shopping and an excellent fish and chips lunch from a café that still buys fish straight off the docks. We returned to the ship with stuffed bellies for a safety talk and tour, then it was time to say good-bye. Even with webcams and satellite phones, it will be hard not seeing those I love for 18 months. How crews coped a century is beyond me.
Blinking furiously (damn those eye-drops!) as I waved the little Land Rover off, it occurred that I wont even see solid ground for the next 3 weeks. Time to find the running shoes…