Archive for November, 2010


A busy week so far

November 30, 2010   

The week has only just started but it has been very busy. Yesterday we took the government officer Kieron an his wife to board a new cruise ship at Stromness bay. It was meant to show up at 6pm but didn’t hove into site until 7:30pm. This meant that Pipit (Matt Holmes) had to do a transfer while it was still moving through the pilot door on the side. Getting Prion’s anchor up in the bay was interesting with 50m of warp/chain out.

Alastair and I pulled with all our might and found that we were hoisting about 200kg of kelp up with the anchor which we then cut free. We then put the pedal to the metal to get back to base before sunset at 8:30pm. For after dark operations we have to have three crew as one person is in charge of sweeping the area in front of the jet boat with the search light looking for ice. We had some small bergy bits at the enterance to the bay and it was a little windy with a light chop. The launches are built to deal with the conditions – so with the heaters on we were toasty and warm but it was still great to get back to base and quickly change for a BBQ aboard the cruise ship Polar Star.

The BBQ was tasty with some steak, pork and big prawns.

Afterwards Rob, Ali and Jon played their instruments with the onboard guitar player and everyone enjoyed a late night of dancing.

This morning we sorted out the jet boats after the late evening trip including refuelling and I was about to take off to the gym after a very late lunch when I got the call to go to the wharf and help bring a patient up to the surgery. Unfortunately a lady fell while walking on the tussock grass turning her ankle over. The Dr. asked if we could do some xrays. So Sam the base Dr and I did the xrays while I used my very bad GCSE French to try and talk to the patient as neither her nor her husband spoke English. After the xrays showed a broken bone we made up a back board out of plaster of paris to support her ankle while the swelling went down. This all took a while as we had to do 3 xrays and develop them one at a time which takes around 10 minutes for each one in the dark room. Then we put her back in the wheel chair and took her back to the ship on the zodiacs they provided. I did offer to take her out on the jet boat but they said they could take her on the zodiac without a problem.

The captain was very appreciative to Sam so he invited us along to see the ship and have cocktails. It was a fancy ship and we hadn’t changed out of our work cloths which were also covered in plaster of paris – oh well 🙂 So that has been my busy monday and tuesday so far. We shall see what the rest of the week has in store for us on base.

Oh finally the weather broke bringing lots of rain this afternoon and very low cloud cover.

Camping and climbing

November 29, 2010   

Rob, myself and Tommy being silly in the hut….

The tent was covered in frost as was Tommy in his bivvy at 4am when I woke up. The moon was still high in the sky but it was getting light fast.

The waterfall next to our campsite on Saturday night that Rob bathed in the next morning – being a hardy scotsman!

Rob headed home but Tommy and I put our 16kg rucksacks on and headed for the hills. We went up to an unnamed peak that has the VHF repeater on it for a look at the equipment and seeing as it was such a beautiful day we had unlimited views of the Barff Peninsula and the never ending southern ocean beyond.

Penguin counting and sooties

November 28, 2010   

On Saturday Tommy and I went with Alastair and Jon to Myviken to count nesting penguins in the colony. There are new chicks hatching every day and the colony is a busy hive of activity with the partners sharing the chores of sitting on the nest/egg protecting the chicks and going out foraging for food. The ones that have been fishing all day come back to the colony through the tussock grass ‘tunnels’ in the late afternoon in groups of about 10. Literally you can spend hours just sitting and watching the activity and listening to the wonderful noises made. The smell is not that enjoyable but everything else makes up for that.

Afterwards we walked up on a hillock overlooking a lake with furry’s and the colony and watched the world go by in tussock armchairs. As we were sitting there a pair of sooty albatross kept on swooping around getting lower and lower until they dissappear from view over the side of the cliff.

We crept to the side of the cliff and looked over to see to our amazement that there were 4 beautiful birds perched on a ledge 20 foot below us.

When the clouds started getting lower and darker it was cold sitting there so we went back to the hut where we met up with Rob and pitched our tent next to a beautiful waterfall. Tommy bivvied out and didn’t get to sleep until 1am as the clouds cleared and it was a wonderful night for watching the stars.

Scottish Dancing in the Church

November 27, 2010   

On Friday night we had a birthday party/scottish dancing evening in the church. (above picture by Rob Webster)

The drinks were cooled in the nearby creek and the food cooked on the BBQ by Paula (boating officer). Everyone’s legs were stiff the next day after the gay gordon, strip the willow etc.

The band of Rob (BC), George (Boating Officer), Jon (Predator scientist) did an amazing job. As you can see two of them were dressed for the occasion.

The party continued till 3am. I left earlier of course 🙂 and made it through the gaunlet of sleeping fur seals in the pitch dark along the track back from Grytviken to base. This one is a juvenile pup…. more on furry’s later!

xray lessons

November 26, 2010   

Unfortunately someone on base needed an xray done on their foot after a fight with a rock which they lost. This was the first xray I have ever taken and then developed in the dark room on base. It is made very easy for us with step by step instructions but also having the Dr. there to teach you means you can’t really get it wrong. The xray machine has been well worked in the last week as a cruise ship passenger was also in need on one today.


November 25, 2010   

In 1902 there was a Swedish South Polar Expedition aboard a ship called Antarctica captained by Larsen. Six of the expedition stayed on the peninsula over winter. While the rest landed at South Georgia on 1st May 1902 in a cove which they called May Cove (Maiviken). This is a picture of that cove which is just up the valley from our base. This is where our beaker Alastair goes every two days to work with the fur seals. He picks up there fecal matter and studies what is in their diet (thinking about it I need to really ask what he is actually doing science wise!).

Maiviken is a beautiful place with a penguin colony and the whole area is covered with lakes. The hut by the largest lake is where we can go camping within an easy walk from base. As it is so close camping any night of the week is permitted it is a great way to get away from base for a while when required.

Doc School

November 24, 2010   

Every monday at 4pm we have doc school run by our Dr on base Sam. We are our own Search and Rescue team and also our own paramedics and the Dr is only one person so she needs help in the case of a major problem. This picture is taken in the surgery on base which is very well set up with an anastesis machine and xray machine. This week was trauma next week will be anaphalaxis.

Invasion of South Georgia

November 23, 2010   

In the evenings after work and before dinner I try to go for a walk sometimes I make it over to the Argentine Puma helicopter remains on the lower slopes of Brown Mountain across from base.

Below is the information from wikipedia…
The Puma landed a first group of 15 Argentine marines on King Edward point at 11:41 AM, on the opposite side from Shackleton House, where the Royal Marines were entrenched. By then, the Guerrico knew that the general area of deployment of the Royal Marines was on the northern shore of the cove’s mouth. The second wave of marines took off from Bahia Paraiso deck on board the Puma at 11:47. The commander of the Argentine group already inland, Lt Luna, requested via the Guerrico—he had no direct communication with Bahia Paraiso—that the second wave should be equipped with 60 mm mortars, but the party was already in flight. The landing was to take place to the east of Luna’s position, well within the view of the British detachment.[23] The helicopter was spotted by Mills and his men and met by intense automatic fire. The pilot was able to cross the bay and crash-landed the helicopter on the southern bank of the bay. Two men were killed and four wounded. At the same time, Luna’s troops started their march towards Shackleton House, but the marines pinned them down with heavy gunfire.[5] Therefore, Luna asked the Guerrico for fire support.


November 22, 2010   

Last week we went down the north coast to take one of the government officers and Kelvin (spraying an invasive grass species) on a jet boat and a RIB.

This is a picture of the Bayard a wreck in Ocean Harbour a three masted, 1028 ton, 67 m (220 ft) long, iron hulled sailing ship. She was built in 1864 by T. Vernon and Son, Liverpool for the Hall Line . In 1868 she was transferred to Sun Shipping Company and in 1881 sold to Foley and Company.On 20 August 1883 she arrived in Suva, Fiji carrying 494 Indian indentured labourers from Calcutta. She had previously carried indentured labourers to the West Indies.

In 6 May 1885, Bayard hit an iceberg, 55 miles South of Cape Race while on a voyage from Marseilles to St. Pierre. The ship lost her stern, bowsprit, jib boom, foremast, topgallantmast and yard, but reached her destination on 23 May, leaking badly.

She was moored at the coaling ship at Ocean Harbour but during a severe gale in June 1911, she blew off her mooring and ran aground. They tried to no avail to pull her off the rocks. There are now about 80 breeding pairs of blue eyed shags nesting on the wreck.

The bay is a deeply indented and the mountains on each side come right to the water. During a survey of the island in 1951-52, the South Georgia Survey reported that whalers and sealers called the cove Ocean Harbour, derived from the Ocean Whaling Co. which had a active whaling station there between 1909 and 1920.

The cemetry at Ocean Harbour has only a few crosses left. The marker on the oldest known grave of the island – that of Frank Cabrail (1820) of the sealer Francis Allen no longer exists. There was one cross with a relatively new looking plaque on it from 1920 (see picture).


November 21, 2010   

This is a picture of Stromness whaling station which we went to this week. Stromness operated as a whaling station from 1912 until 1931. In 1931 it was converted into a ship repair yard with a machine shop and a foundry. It remained operational until 1961 when the site was abandoned.

In 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a small crew landed on the unpopulated southern coast of South Georgia at King Haakon Bay after an arduous sea voyage from Elephant Island in the 22-foot lifeboat James Caird. Shackleton along with Tom Crean and Frank Worsley then trekked across South Georgia’s mountainous and glaciated interior in an effort to reach help on the populated northern shore of the island. After 36 hours of crossing the interior they arrived at the Stromness administration center which also was the home of the Norwegian whaling station’s manager. This building has been dubbed the “Villa at Stromness” because it represents relative luxury compared to its surroundings. All men were rescued from Elephant Island.