Ascension : Visit of the MV Plancius
Submitted by The Islander (Islander Editors) 28.04.2011 (Article Archived on 12.05.2011)
All of you would have seen the vessel "Plancius" in Clarence Bay during last weekend. Whilst here passengers and crew enjoyed visits to the Post Office, Museum and A&Pís Giftworld.
All of you would have seen the vessel "Plancius" in Clarence Bay during last weekend. Whilst here passengers and crew enjoyed visits to the Post Office, Museum and A&Pís Giftworld. Their shore excursions included lunch at Two Boats Club, swimming at Comfortless Cove, Island Tours and Turtle Tours.
The Plancius will now replace the Professor Molchanov which used to pay us an annual visit.
The vessel was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. She was completely rebuilt as a 114-passenger vessel in 2009and accommodates 114 passengers.
The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. She has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation.
MV "Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 - 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages.
She is manned by 17 nautical crew, 19 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman and 11 stewards / cabin cleaners), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides-lecturers) and 1 doctor.
Whilst the vessel was in Clarence Bay, we were able to speak with Rinie, the Expedition Leader and Mr John Sparks, former Head of the BBC Natural World based in Bristol. They were happy to speak about the trip so far. The vessel set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina a month ago and travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Orkney Islands, South Georgia, Gough Island, Tristan da Cuhna and St Helena before reaching Ascension. The last leg of her voyage is the Cape Verdes. The beginning of the voyage was tampered by extreme weather conditions in the Antarctic Peninsula with conditions preventing all but 2 landings ashore and poor visibility. Things started to improve with their arrival in Tristan da cuhna when conditions allowed them to land both there and on Nightingale Island. We were particularly interested in an update following the environmental disaster that occurred there on 16 March when the Oliva ran aground off Nightingale Island. The clean up still continues with everyone being involved, even the school children who goes directly from school at 3pm to assist. Whilst there is still the normal work on the Island that needs to be done, everything else has taken second place and the priority is the cleaning of the rockhoppers which is an endangered species. Passengers and crew were shocked at the effect to the wildlife, but were impressed by the whole cleanup operation and the islanders dedication and commitment trying to save as much of the wildlife as possible. The tedious but delicate procedure involves catching the rockhoppers, force feeding them sardines which are being shipped in especially from Cape Town, feeding them with charcoal and vitamins, (the charcoal helps to absorb any of the oils that might have been ingested),washing them with a special solution, placing them in the Islandís swimming pool and constant monitoring to ensure that the birds are able to preen themselves and are completely free from the oil before being released back into the wild. John explained that whilst the Islandís Administrator announced that compensation for loss of earnings from the fish industry and for the cleanup is being fiercely pursued, an Aid has been set up in the UK by RSPB to ensure that everything possible can be done to resolve the situation. An investigation into the accident is currently ongoing, there is speculation amongst the Islanders that it was all due to negligence.