Archive for February, 2011


Search and Rescue practice and rats

February 28, 2011   

A rat in one of the bait boxes I made from the Greene photo by Sam

We had a search and rescue exercise with the rat eradication team where we had to launch our boats to the site of a downed helicopter. We had the RIB in the water 7 minutes after the call to muster and were on site 16 minutes from the call. The site was 5km away so not a bad response at all. I was very proud of the team on base.

HMS Dotty


Dotty ‘towing’ the RIB!

How many boys are needed to flush an engine!?

It was a stunning day so Tommy and Alastair asked if they could go out on Dotty our very small boat with a 3.5hp engine on it. They had a lot of fun as you can see from the pictures – bunch of kids. The NG Explorer came in for the night so we ended up aboard for drinks and pizza with rocket. They gave us some bannannas which were very tasty as well.

Maiviken with Alaska Eagle

February 22, 2011   

Picture by Alastair Wilson

Alaska Eagle came back in on Saturday night so I promised to take them for a walk on Sunday. With the
forecast looking bad we went for the nature tour of Maiviken beaches vs the peaks.

We were over taken by Rob doing the half marathon with Hugh as his trainer. Rob got a great time of 2 hours 3 minutes. Shame he was sick on the actual day as it would have been a fight to the finish with Theis.

Pictures by Brad Avery

Down at Evans Lake they enjoyed being surrounded by curious fur seal pups. Then onto the gentoo colony which has abandoned the hills where they nested for the area around the lakes a little bit closer to the sea. Next stop was the hillock over the lake to see if the sooty albatrosses were still in residence unfortunately they were not. So down to Tortula to check in on the beach which has really emptied out in the last month. The penguins are now able to wonder around the beaches without falling over fur seals! From there we hiked over the chest high tussock to Burnet before heading back completing the circle to the hut.

At the hut I fired up the primus and they all enjoyed a cuppa just as the rain started. We came back via the waterfall just before Deadmans hiking up it to the plateau and then descending back into Bore Valley the Grytviken side of Deadmans as it was starting to blow horizontal rain. By the time we were back at the boat we were all wet! It was gusting 60 knots and the sea was whipped up with spindrift the yachts were heeling over in the wind. On Sunday night it got up to 80 knots with averages of 45 knots for long periods.

On base we tucked into an unhealthy fry up and watched the movie the Kings Speech which was very good.

Click here for Alaska Eagles report

Saturday’s activities

February 19, 2011   

Yesterday was a day full of boating and cooking. We picked up the happy campers and dropped off Katie, Tommy and Matt H for their holidays. We also dropped off three people to work the rat boxes at the Greene. Then it was back to station to do scrub out, some RIB repairs, start making 20 more rat bait boxes and cook. I made boneless lamb loin marinaded in oregano, pepper, chilli flakes cooked to medium rare and then glazed with a balsalmic, garlic, red wine reduction. Served with mixed veg, creamed spinach and basmati rice. This was followed by sponge cake (chocolate chip or cherry) with custard.

Today it was a stunning day with flat calm, blue skis and no wind that changed around 1pm but we had already been out to Brown Mountain.

The scree going up Brown….
Alastair, Andy and Sam went ahead I then ran to meet them at hydro dam we walked up to the summit of Brown and took many pictures before I continued on the marathon route running while they headed down the way we came up.

The way down at the end – 1/2 marathon route

I got to the lake before them so went for a swim which they joined me in. A tad chilly but also oddly refreshing.

Back to base for midday for a photo shoot. Matt Boat wanted us to get dressed in Orange in support of indepdent lifeboats in the UK. So I sprayed orange paint in my hair! Don’t worry it washed out afterwards.

The wind got up so instead of heading to Maiviken I spent the afternoon in the chippy shop finishing rat boxes and starting my second wind chime made from glacier poles (more later on that) and did a little more RIB repair. I am procrastinating as I need to do my tax return but cant really face it!

Sam is in the kitchen with Alastair making a Thai feast for saturday night dinner of fishcakes for starters than green curry, crispy beef etc. 25 for dinner tonight so I might go and see what I can do to help out.

Glacier mapping

February 18, 2011   

Yesterday morning we had a 5 hour boating trip which was great fun. Starting with the endless rat boxes at Greene then Maiviken, then we picked up a rusted drum off the beach, followed by dropping off Hugh and Andy at Harpon.

Hugh made a new door for the hut at Harpon so while he fitted it we went over to the Neymeuer Glacier ice cliffs.

Using the radar I kept us 1/4 mile off the cliff and plotted it as a track on the GPS. It has been found that this glacier is receding at a rate of 1 meter per day! That is an incredible rate of collapse of a large and beautiful glacier.

While we were doing the mapping Tommy spotted a Lep pulled out on a bergy bit.

We went back to Harpon and picked up the tools and boatsuits from the Harpon party and waved at the two people summiting 3320 before heading back to base. Sue asked us to grab some kelp for making kelp crisps – not sure how they will taste! Odds and ends to do back at base including trying to repair the sponson still on Luna so that it will hold air for a reasonable amount of time. I had dinner over at the museum and watched a movie about whales which one of the visiting yachties had made.


February 16, 2011   

A day of housekeeping jobs like stocking up the pantry in our accomodation from the food store. Down here you use the JCB to go to the supermarket and fill the bucket! I made two quiches as one of the cruise ships gave us some eggs and we had some left overs to throw in – onions, broccoli, beef, bacon, smoked salmon etc. I broke down some boxes which will go back to the UK to be used by BAS for shipping things down next season.

We had a base meeting clarifying our SAR responsibilities when the rat eradication helicopters are flying. Things will be a little restricted for the next 6 weeks – similar to Rothera. A maximum of 10 minutes away when on SAR duty (two boat crews so 4 out of our base of 8), 1 hour maximum away when not on duty and no overnight trips. The upside is that we are not on 24 hour cover like at Rothera and we don’t actually have to launch the boats when the helicopters take off like we do at Rothera. We will be even more appreciative of the freedom we have here when the six weeks are up. In the meantime Tommy, Matt and Katie will be going on holiday friday till monday to take advantage of the last of the freedom.

After the meeting I went to Maiviken hut to do a few small jobs before rushing back. I was slightly late for dinner but there was some left which was tasty – toad in the hole. The hut has a new counter top and a few new pieces of trim around the window.

Thats my poo!

February 15, 2011   

I didn’t ever think my career in boating would come to me fighting a skua over some seal poo. Alastair is on holiday on the Barff – we took him, Matt boat and Sam over this morning. As a result I went over to Maiviken to collect 10 seal poos for him to sieve through when he gets home. Believe me he can have that job any day!

It was very hot here today stunning blue sky with wispy clouds and no wind in the afternoon. It was hard to find the number we needed so I walked all the beaches and ended up face to face with a skua who wanted the faeces as much as I did. Total of about 16km up and down the hills and through the tussock dodging grumpy fur seals. Andy who went over with me walked quite a distance ahead of me (very understandable) as there was a cloud of smell around me! We also checked the rat boxes – todays catch none on Greene and two from Maiviken.

Eagles have landed and coincidences!

February 14, 2011   

On Sunday we had an early morning start to check rat boxes yet again at Greene followed by Maiviken before the cruise ship carrying the rat eradication team pulled in at midday. From midday on we were busy unloading all the cargo for the team.

The two helicopters were flown off the ship over to Grytviken. The base is now busy with lots of people including a TV crew from Germany here to film the rat eradication.

We were all invited aboard the ship for a delicous BBQ dinner and as we were eating I heard Alaska Eagle call in. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her heading for the wharf as it is a boat from Orange Coast Collage which is the sailing school that owned Pyewacket when I raced aboard her in Southern California. Brad Avery was aboard who I had sailed with several times and 10 other people many from the Bay Area. The wharf looked like we were having a regatta with 4 yachts tied up – a French doublehanded boat, a single handed Israeli, Wanderer III with Theis and Kicki and the Americans on the S&S 65.

Most awesome birthday presents

February 12, 2011   

So two men one in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere gave me the most incredible birthday presents – I am a lucky person! The picture above shows the frame that Rob Webster (the base commander) made for me. The picture in the frame was taken by Sam Crimmin (the Dr).

We have really bad glass cutting implements on base so when Rob tried to make a normal rectangle frame with glass in it he was left with a odd shaped piece of glass. Rather than throw it away he made a frame to fit the glass!

The other man (the Northern Hemisphere one) is James ( who built my website for me and who for my birthday programmed it so that if you click on the above picture a pop up window will appear with a larger photo (so now you can actually see the photo properly).

Both of you are very talented. Thank you. Ashx

PS Thank you Betsy and Jerry for my Kindle I am tucked in bed reading it while the wind is howling outside – gusts 65 knots today!

Was that real?

February 11, 2011   

Today started with a trip to the Greene for the every two day rat box check.

Then my parents arrived on base! They cruised on into the bay on Plancius for a whistle stop 6 hours on base before heading off into the night for their next stop at St Andrews. Mum did the Shackleton Walk in the morning which is from Fortuna to Stromness up the steep scree which is hard work when you aren’t use to it. I think she will be a bit sore tomorrow. We had planned to go around to Stromness to surprise them on the beach however, the wind was above our boating limit in the morning so we weren’t able to. However, Kieron the government officer was very kind and organised for me to go aboard with him even before the boat was at anchor to ensure I got the maximum amount of time with them.

They arrived with many presents from family and friends – thank you to you all. Specially thank you to Dad who carried the large bag all over the world with him!

I took them around base introducing them to all the staff and what normal life is like on base. Next stop was shackleton’s grave, the museum and Wanderer III before dinner. Unfortunately with such a short time I wasn’t able to take them to Maiviken or Penguin River but then I think they saw lots of the sort of thing on their stops around South Georgia.

Sam and Andy made a delightful meal of lasagna and garlic bread and then all to soon the zodiac arrived to take them back to the ship. Mum and Dad managed to get the chef to make me a birthday cake so we were able to have a post birthday celebration.

I agree with everyone that I am very lucky they made it down here. In Pat and Sarah’s memory no other BAS staff has had their parents visit them. Very surreal to have them here and I wouldn’t really believe that they were here except for all the new things in my room 🙂