Archive for October, 2010


on station

October 30, 2010   

Ship alongside the morning after we arrived.

Got to station after 6.5 days of travelling. Weather is absolutely stunning so instead of writing my blog I am off up a hill for a bit of scrambling so will write more later! Already did a night ops last night on the jet boats.

Station in evening light yesterday

Travelling to South Georgia

October 28, 2010   

Six and half days after leaving the UK I arrived on station on Thursday 28th October. We were basically travelling the whole time. Due to runway resurfacing at Mount Pleasant Airport in Stanley (Falklands) the planes can only land once a week so as not to disrupt works. The plane left at 6am on Friday morning from RAF Brize Norton which meant a 2am wake up call as we had to be at the terminal for a 3am check in.

Mum and Dad took me to Brize on Thursday evening and we had a great pub dinner in Burford. I was put up at the Gateway Hotel which is on station where I managed to get 4 hours sleep before it was announced on a hotel wide PA system ‘those going to Falklands on the 6am flight this is your wake up call’. I felt sorry for the people not going getting woken up! As they were weighing our check in luggage as part of the 54kg baggage allowance I had to transfer my skis to one of the BAS HR ladies who was flying down on the same flight to get all my possessions on the flight without a large fee of 18.42 pounds per excess kg! Mum and Dad turned up at 3:30 am to say good bye along with Katy and Sam’s parents. The flight was run by Air Seychelles the poor flight attendants have a horrible 6 week schedule where they flight one 9 hour flight per week. They fly from London to Brize the first week spending at week in the Ascension Islands where we stop to refuel then the next week they fly to Falklands spending a week there then the next week back to the Ascensions, then back to the Falklands for another week until their 6 weeks is up. Our landing was rough in Stanley as there was quite a brisk crosswind. It had been stormy weather for the last week with up to 60 knots for a few days.

27 hours after waking up for the flight at Brize we were stumbling to our bunks on the ship which was to take us to South Georgia after a brief safety discussion. The Ship is an ex weather buoy service station that worked in the western isles of Scotland, so she was built with only 4m draught and therefore rolls quite a bit even in a very moderate seaway. The job of the Ship is as a fisheries patrol vessel for the South Georgia and Sandwich Islands Government (more on that later). We had the luxury of our own en suite cabins which is the last vestige of privacy for a while as station is going to be very full this summer with so many projects occurring. Unlike Rothera there are no air strips in South Georgia so people can only come and go once a month on the Ship. The other methods of getting to the islands not use by BAS are cruise ships, private sailing vessels and British military patrol vessels. Also a few times a year the BAS ships the Shackleton and James Clark Ross call in to provide relief for the station – taking away rubbish and bringing in food and supplies.

Only 8 hours after arriving we were due to be at the Governor’s mansion to meet the Governor of the Falklands. He is also the Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – apparently someone can only be a governor if they live in the territory. Rob our base commander was sworn in as the magistrate for South Georgia apparently the legislation that is being put in place in the next few years will increase the magistrate’s power. After his swearing in we were given a talk by the various members of the government regarding our role in South Georgia and a little more about the projects that are meant to occur over the summer season. Afterwards I went with Ruth and Kieron (government officer based on South Georgia – more on this later) to the Chandlery (the biggest supermarket in the Falklands) and opened up an account. Unlike Rothera because we have a monthly ship visiting base we can order food from the Falklands. The rest of the group headed off to the museum however, seeing as I have already visited it once this year I relaxed at Shorty’s before taking the launch back to the ship as she was anchored in the bay. Saturday evening we had a buffet dinner with the government officers at the hotel Malvena our last meal at a restaurant for 14 months for some and 2.5 years for others!

Sunday morning we pulled anchor and set out through the narrows for South Georgia after the obligatory ships drills and safety briefs. We all got to experience the famous rolling of the ship for five days at sea to our new home. When at sea there is not much to do aboard besides sleep, eat, read books and watch movies. A little bit of bird watching on the aft deck which gets Alastair (one of our beakers) very excited.

On my way

October 21, 2010   

My last night at home in England my parents, little brother and I went to a tapas restaurant in Richmond followed by the theatre. Mum got a box for the fun of it right over the right side of the stage. The production was Carries War it was very well done indeed. So with my new skis, lots of mountaineering gear, sweets, DVDs etc I am off to Brize Norton with my parents. Stay tuned for the adventures in south Georgia I won’t get to station until the 28th as we take a 4 day ‘cruise’ from the falklands on the fisheries patrol vessel.

Tearing apart a Hamilton Jet Drive

October 15, 2010   

Today Matt and I spent the day at Hamilton Jet Drive learning how to maintain the jet drives on the boats down at KEP. We fully dismantled and put back together the jet drive unit – they are pretty simple in concept and not hard to take apart in the workshop. It will I am sure be a total different kettle of fish down there! Unfortunately our course on handling jet boats was cancelled so it will be on the job training on base. I am sure there will be a lot of hilarious moments while I learn especially as going in reverse requires you to steer in the opposite direction of what is second nature to people used to running prop boats.

FAQ answered

October 14, 2010   

A few answers to the many questions I get asked..

Do I have time off and can I come home? No I can’t leave South Georgia (until december 2011) but yes I do get time off which means I can go camping, skiing, hiking in the travel area around base.

Can you come and visit? Yes if you pay to come down on a cruise ship but you will likely only be in Grytviken for a day at the most.

How long does it take to get down there? I leave next friday 22nd at 0600 on the RAF flight to Falklands via the Ascensions getting in late that same night. We have a day or so in the Falklands where we meet the South Georgia Governer and then take a ship to base which will take around 4 days.

Are there other bases nearby? There is another BAS base in South Georgia on Bird Island however, we might if we are lucky see the base from the ship on the way down and maybe on the way back out in December 2011.

How cold does it get? We are at the same latitude south as scotland being at 54S however, we are within the polar front so the island is glaciated and there are icebergs and sea ice. When Myles and I sailed Round Britain and Ireland we went to almost 61N. The average temperature is 1.7C or 35F it will feel colder due to wind chill and the damp. In June, July and August is will be around -5C and in February (the height of summer) it should warm up to 9C. The average rainfall is around 54 inches per year which is double the amount of rain that falls in London and San Francisco per year. So basically high humidity, low amounts of sunlight, lots of rain and a little bit chilly!

South Georgia Climate graph contributed by

8 days and counting

October 13, 2010   

Today I am feeling sorry for myself as I have a cold and am in bed. Luckily my training course in Jet Boat Handling in Wales was cancelled. This does mean however, that I will be very much a learner driver when I get to base in 2 weeks and jump on the jet boats. Oh well I am sure George and Paula will teach Matt and I very quickly.

The last few days have been spent in London getting some new boots for South Georgia for when I am not on the boats and am out on the hills. I ended up with Scarpa Charmonz which are all purpose and allow crampon attachment I hope they work as well as the advertising suggests! I have been spending time with the family as well with dinner out last night at the OXO Tower which is on the south bank of the Thames with a beautiful view of the city including St Pauls Cathedral. On monday I went to the Greenwich Maritime Museum which had some interesting exhibits including one on Toy Boats which my newphew would have loved. There is needless to say a lot of paperwork to be done before I leave again which my poor mother will have to send off at the correct times.

Advanced 1st Aid Course

October 6, 2010   

I just spent three days in Plymouth at Derriford Hospital with the BAS Medical Unit Drs learning how to be a medical assistant for them on base and also advanced first aid.

We went into more detail in the following subjects including practical:
• Advanced resuscitation
• Airway/breathing maneuvers
• Field medical box contents
• ABCDE assessment
• Secondary survey
• Management of suspected spinal injury

• Chest injury
• Anaphylaxis, hypothermia, drowning
• Wound management (including local anesthetic and suturing)

• IV access and fluid administration

• Fractures and dislocations
• Hyperbaric chamber orientation
• Scenarios

We spent an afternoon in A&E and one in the simulation room. In the simulation room there is a dummy that speaks, secretes fluids, has a pulse rate, breaths, trembles, the eyes blink, sweats basically it acts like a human being. The dummy is run by a medical trainer who based on what you do with the patient changes the vital signs. It really is an amazing piece of realistic kit. The room has the same tools we have at the base surgeries including real live defibrillators, aesthetic units, airway ‘tools’, drugs, IV fluids etc.

In the evenings we had some fun Tamsin, Malcome and I went climbing on a crag outside Plymouth one evening and the whole group of us went bowling the other evening. The crag was called Dewerstone it is is located in the magical ancient wooded valleys of south-west Dartmoor.