Archive for March, 2011


Marine Engineer Tommy

March 31, 2011   

This is Tommy helping me out with some boat projects. He changed the color of his mane from blond to purple.

We welded some small washers onto pins that kept on backing out on the manual bilge pump. You might notice the UV degradation of the bilge pump diaphragm it is so harsh here this happens in about 6 months… There seems to have been lots of gremlins messing around in the boatshed with lots of faults that take ages to problem solve. I have been saving short small easy projects so I can do one of those when I get frustrated with the larger issues.

While the welder was out I reafixed my diver to the metal post the sculpture was given to me by Ian (ex Rothera) and made by Al Homer (ex Rothera)

We run a system between Matt and I that one person is on maintenance duty for a week and the other does the on the water single boat operations. If there are two boats than both of us are on the water. This week Matt is on duty and tonight was the second fishing boat of the season and this week that came in for inspection. Both have arrived just before sunset and left in the dark on their way to fishing grounds – time being money for them.


March 30, 2011   

The other morning when I went to the boatshed to clean up after the party and remove the parachute I took the above picture of the Fenix which is a landing craft left over from the Argentine invasion of South Georgia in 1982.

This is a picture of the parachute before I removed it from the shed. It was used during one of the air drops which the British Forces based in the Falklands do every now and again to prove they can basically! In the case of an major incident where a cruise ship founders and we have 500 people on base they can bring vital supplies by flying 5 hours and air dropping the supplies to us.

Extended boating!

March 29, 2011   

When I opened up our new charts that come in on the Shackleton I was a bit concerned when I saw this one! Luckily it was an out of date chart they had wrapped the correct ones in and I hadn’t got the wrong chart numbers. Phew! I don’t really wish to be running around the Baltic in our jet boats not as sceanic as here.

Busy day – fog, sun and fishing boats

March 28, 2011   

Fog rainbow by Sam when it started to clear

Today started with pea soup fog as far as you could see and indeed as far as we boated (to the Nordenskol ice face). The busiest day of boating so far for Matt and I and I didn’t do the evening/night runs as Matt is duty boat this week.

We started with a run to the Greene Peninsula we launched both RIBs but then after having problems with one engine we decided to go with the jet boat. That was helpful in the bad vis as Matt stayed .2 nm off the coast using the radar and I followed behind in the RIB. The first stop was on the East side and visibility got down to about 100 feet at times and there was a bit of brash ice 2.5 miles from the the glacier ice cliff.

Two screen shots of my new GoPro that was mounted on my helmet. Thanks guys 🙂

We dropped off 2 people on a nice beach about 1/4 mile off the glacier and then back tracked to the Morraine Fjord where the jet boat held station while I went in on the RIB following our tracks on the GPS. On the way back I ran into a large piece of ice kicked up by the jet boats wake luckily it caused no damage as the engines were on tilt (I leave them on tilt in ice however, you can’t go in reverse quickly…) so it just kicked the lower leg up and out of the way. The swell was running and waves were breaking on the morraine at the entrance. The plan initially was to drop two off at the hut area and two further down towards the Harker however as the vis was so bad and I hadn’t done a landing on the south west side of the Greene it was a quicker and safer option to have them all walk from the hut area.

We got back to base and Matt and I set to working on the engines – me on the spare one which was easy as I was just putting on new parts and Matt on the one that wouldn’t work. Also the battery wasn’t holding a charge so I put it on charge for a few hours before the next trip.

Fog lifting quickly with the RIBs at the wharf ready for another Greene run.

As the visibility started to clear before the 4pm pick up the helicopters wanted to fly so we were sent out to pick up 4 people back off the Greene. Back from that we did some small jobs and then out again at 4:30 to pick up two more people from the Greene.

The RIBs were put away and an hour and half later Prion (the jet boat) was out again to take the government officers out to our first fishing boat of the season. The fishing boats come into the bay for inspection and to receive their license before they are allowed to fish South Georgia waters. Two hours later Matt and crew were out picking up Kieron and Robert.

The last trip of the day was to pick Katie up off the ship after her trawl at 9:30pm. As this was a night operation a crew of 3 total were needed however, it seemed everyone wanted to go for a boat so 4 people jumped aboard with Matt while I covered comms on base.

Climbing and Wedding

March 27, 2011   

At 9am I jumped out of bed and met 10 people from the Shackleton at the bottom of the gangway for a walk up Duse. The cloud base was low with the summit covered from view. The usual straight up to the plateau by the time we were there we had lost 3 people from the group the excertion a bit much after the late night – I was up till 3am!

There was a thin coating of snow on the plateau but when we got into the gulley it was well iced up due to the thawing in the warm weather on Friday and refreezing as a coating of ice on all the rocks overnight. A little way up the gully we had another person bail out.

At the top of the gully on the way up the the summit is a tunnel. The rock that you scramble under is the one that Shackleton stood on for the famous Hurley photo. The weather was not very good for recreating that picture unfortunately!

MVT sitting on the photo point with cloud covering the view across to Gull Lake and Brown.

The group coming down the gully from the summit.

Finally below the clouds view down to base and Grytviken making our way back in time for the wedding

The wedding party outside the church – L to R The captain of the Shackleton, the best man, Jules (bride), Tim (groom), bridesmaid (Penny – dentist), father of the bride (not really). The bouquet was made out of charts using some niffty oragamy instructions off the web by the ex Halley Dr.

Robert the governmnet officer piped the couple in to the church with the bagpipes. Rob our BC played the fiddle while we sang the readings were done by the ships officers. Rob played the fiddle as the bride and groom exited the church followed by the ships officers ringing the bells. The couple left the church in the back of the rat eradication pick up truck with Diedre driving them back to base. The rings and the figurines on the top of the cake (made by Claire) were made by the ships engineers out of steel rod. Matt Holmes did a great job cooking on the BBQ and the ships 1st officer made a brazilian style fire pit to cook some of the meat which was delicious. Ken (rat team Dr) provided a vertitable feast of desserts with trifle, banofee pie, millionaires shortbread and cheese cake. The couple were married by the ships captain (John Harper) who started with BAS as an able bodied seaman many years ago.

At the party we realised we had four docters and a dentist on station – must have been one of the safest places to be in the world! From L to R – Claire (ex Rothera), Diedre (rat team Dr), Mike (ex Halley), Sam (current KEP).

Claire wanted to go for a swim so at dusk we went for a brief dip (I must admit to wading into my waist and not fully going in as I have already done this a few times!)

The sauna after our dip was very necessary

All to soon (midnight) it was time for the Shackleton to depart and all my friends from Rothera to leave me on the wharf like I did 12 months ago when I sailed away from them. I set off a handheld red flare and waved as they pulled away and also some pinpoint parachute flares. The ships horn sounded and they glided out of the bay on a perfectly still and cloudless night. I have to admit to crying as I watched them leave many close friends slipping away into the night onto their lives back at home. Finally time for bed…

Busy Friday!

March 26, 2011   

Boatsuits inners had to be put back in then time for scrub out after smoko then just enough time for Matt to do an oil change on Prion while I changed the anti corrosive zincs – 6 monthly service. Then the Shackleton hove into view and needed a RIB in the water for lines. Time to climb a mountain, have a dentist appointment, dinner and a party in the boatshed.

Last call has occurred which in other BAS bases signifies winter has started. The Shackleton came in and took away our cargo of p-boxes, kit bags, garbage and more importantly my friends from Rothera who were here for such a short time.

Tommy and I were in the RIB to help take lines ashore

The FIDs from Rothera on their way north look down from the monkey island.

Hodges with some snow on a perfect day for climbing with the guys from Rothera.

Once the government officer briefing was finished cargo started and I took a group of 8 up Hodges. This is Claire and I at the bottom about to go up the face behind the church.

Top of Hodges with the Shackleton far below it was a stunning day and the snow on thursday was still quite deep on the flanks.

Coming down from Hodges via the lakes.

After getting down from Hodges it was quite late our time 8:30pm so I rushed back and had a quick bite to eat before going aboard for my dentist appointment with Penny the BAS Dentist. After the all clear it was time to join the party in the boatshed which we had spent a large amount of time decorating.

Claire and I celebrating our recent birthdays with sparklers at the end of the night

Snowy day

March 24, 2011   

This morning it was sleeting when we got up and the tops of the mountains were covered in snow. With such wet sleet I decided my morning run was going to be a 5km row on the machine in the gym instead! The snow kept up all day and when I went for my run this evening in it up to Deadmans the scree was slippery. It looked beautiful with the snow covering the hillsides.

A day for doing indoor jobs like washing the boatsuits which includes taking out the inners and putting them through the washing machine. This is a bit of a pain as the inners are zipped in and there are 22 boatsuits!

Our boatsuits are actually immersion suits very warm for here especially on a hot summery day.

After dinner (made by Katie of meatballs and pasta – very tasty) I decided to make something from the poor butternut squash that has sat in the fridge and was starting to go off so I made a stew with red peppers, garlic, onion, chilli, parlsey and some caraway seeds (that Dee gave me as part of my christmas present). Hopefully the guys will find it tasty for lunch tomorrow.

Tomorrow the Shackleton is meant to arrive with all my friends from Rothera so Friday and Saturday are set to be fun days on base catching up with everyone from my last season.

Hectic day!

March 23, 2011   

Today we had a bit of an epic day in the boatshed. Pipit the jet boat we took out on Friday had to go back in at high water today as the weather and height of tide wasn’t looking good for tomorrow or Friday. We completed the following work on Pipit since Friday (taking the weekend off obviously!).
* 6 monthly yanmar service which includes anti corrosive zinc replacement/checks and oil change (all 10 litres per engine)
* Built a bracket for the direction fiding, radar and radar reflector mast that has to be dropped down to get the boat in the shed. Up until now they were using a broom handle Matt and I didn’t like the system as it meant the engine hatches had to be left up etc.
* Pressure washed the bottom of the boat and the decks
* 100 hour service of both jet drives including anode replacement and full cleaning of parts and regreasing
* Installed exterior engine alarm at outside helm station (tommy did a beautiful job)
* Added the AIS and Iridium to the emergency comms batteries (again a tommy job)
* Created a diagram of all the fuses and circuit breakers with labels (Tommy job)
* Layout of the windlass that we are going to install

* Anchors and sea anchor out and checked cleaned and shackles wire tied
* Cleaning of bilges (Matt job)
* Re write of job descriptions and creation of tools list for the jobs
* weekly check which includes webasto heater, safety equipment, normal engine checks of fluid levels etc.
* steering system checks and hydraulic fluid checks
* painted the forward handrail on the aft side black to stop reflection of the ice light at night back into the helmsman’s eyes

So we put the boat back in on the rising tide and put Prion on the trailer and hauled her out for a two monthly jet drive/hull clean service. After seeing the state of Pipits bottom and experiencing a 4 knot drop in speed and a sluggish helm I decided 3 months was too long between haul outs so created this two monthly service. With it being a large procedure to hook up the trailer and do the haul out we will endevour to time it so the 4 monthly serviced boat goes in and the other boat comes out for its two monthly on the same tide like we did today.

Prion’s bottom was as bad as Pipits so I pressure washed one side and then started servicing the jet drives while Matt pressure washed the other side of the boat. At 2:45 we put her back in the water and took an hour and half off for lunch as we had been none stop since 9am.

It was a gray damp and dismal day but seeing as we were pressure washing it didn’t really matter that it was raining as we were going to get wet either way!

Worth getting up for!

March 22, 2011   

Sam took this picture this morning it is a stunning picture and just what it looked like!

And another picture by Sam as I got frustrated by my camera! This is the moon coming up tonight.

Old style

March 21, 2011   

Sam took this picture of Bark Europa it came to Grytviken during horrendous weather just for the day yesterday. Matt and I went over with Andy and Robert to get their lines and tie them up to the jetty. Then it monsooned the rest of the day and Matt and I had lots of jet boat servicing to do! It was great to see an tall ship at the wharf with the whaling station as a backdrop.

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