An introduction, and the reason why the Oil Mariner and her crew worked in South Georgia
As an Engineer in the Merchant Navy, my work had taken me to many interesting places worldwide, from the Middle East to Mexico.. After four years in West Africa (three in Angola) I was given the opportunity to take up a position as Chief Engineer on a ship based in the Falklands. Little was I to know that I would exchange the heat of Africa for the cold of Antarctica for eleven years.
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Comfort was not a word that came to mind on some of the trips to South Georgia from the Falklands. The Oil Mariner was a good "sea boat" with a following sea, but very lively and "lumpy" ploughing into it. One season we went to the island in a force eight Easterly gale and came back in a force eight Westerly! Another season we went in a force eight gale, but the sea was like a mill pond for our return. One of the most pleasant trips we had was in the middle of Winter!
As a child, an uncle, Bill Howieson, had shown me some photographs of a place called South Georgia, where he had worked in the whaling industry. At the time it meant nothing to me, but I was later to see for myself what a beautiful and rugged island South Georgia was. The very first time I saw the place, I thought "This is how God intended the world to be when he created it", and it is a feeling that I have to the present day. The sense of peace and tranquility can not be experienced anywhere else.
Our work was mainly based in the Falkland Islands. We refueled the warships, the BAS ships and the local MoD contracted vessels. Our ship was also responsible for maintenance on the Mare Harbour SPM (single point mooring) as well as the Navy moorings in the Falklands and South Georgia. Floating navigational lights also coming under this umbrella. It was the trip to South Georgia that I looked forward to, as we would have around ten days to a fortnight to do the work on the moorings, and it would give us a little time to take in the sights and the local wildlife.