Archive for April, 2011


All day in the chippy shop

April 30, 2011   

Yesterday was a bit of a rush in the chippy shop to finish the present for the wardroom of the York. I thought I had another day but the Clyde which is delivering the present came back to KEP a day earlier than expected. I literally put a coat of oil on 10 minutes before the Clyde arrived at anchor off Hope Point having not had the time to sand it to 120 grit so unfortunately there are sanding swirls in the finish. Oh well it is the thought that counts.

The board just after being oiled with Danish Oil. The main board was made by laminating four pieces of eucalyptus from some old beds then I framed it with some mohogony from the fishing vessel wrecks. Next I routered out the center and four L shaped areas and inlaid rosewood, pequio, Lignum vitea and mahogony. The squares I made using a chisel and after glueing the pieces in I planed the wood flat and sanded. All sounds simple however, it did take every evening this week and all day yesterday. I won’t be making another of those soon!

Up close

Wrapped in a chart from British Colombia not much use down here!!

While I was waiting for glue to set I made a trifle as we had Captain Kris’s birthday BBQ during which it started to rain and snow. Matt Mech made some very nice steaks, lamb chops, chicken and chorzo sausages on the grill and hung the parachute up in the garage. There were plenty of cakes as well so Saturday night meal will be an ecclectic mix of leftovers!! I managed to pull some wood out of the drum that Matt was burning he didn’t realise I was saving for a woodwork project I want to do after midwinter a little bit charred but I think I can still use some of it – guess I should have put a sign on it 🙂

Always the quiet ones

April 28, 2011   

You have to be careful of the shy quiet people as I found when I became the first person to be bankrupt playing South Georgia monopoly. Andy Black is worse than Donald Trump! Ali (last years BC) made Kieron for his midwinter present a South Georgia monopoly board complete with SG money, penguin colonies instead of hotels etc.
It looks store bought but it was lovingly handmade here on the island!

I was on earlies today and spent the whole day cooking making things out of freshies that are going bad and packing the freezer full of them. Two quiches, bannana crumb muffins, tomotoe soup, carrot and coriander soup, hot cross buns, tomotoe relish, apple sauce and then dinner. I did fit in a hour long boat school for the few on base the topic was compass bearings and headings and we also threw in a little bit of knot tying.

Last night it was suggested to have games night as there are only 9 of us on base with 5 people out on the HMS Clyde for a few days. Matt finished the uckers board and Sam, Matt and Ali played a game that lasted 2 hours while Sue, Kieron, Andy and myself played monopoly.

Dinner was fish and chips in newspaper in the bar. I got a lot of compliments for one of the simplist meals I have made here – you can’t win really!

As there was batter left the guys decided to have deep fried mars bars which I have to say after trying one I am not really a fan.

A fun evening despite being bankrupt!

Other news –

This week the HMS Clyde came to visit and were not able to come alongside due to the wind so we ended up cancelling most of our social engagements with them.

I was on maintenance week so continued servicing of the outboard and in the evenings started making a present for the wardroom of the York – an uckers board with inlaid woods. We continue to lead in Race Antarctica by a very large margin but all have sore bottoms from sitting on the rowing machine for hours on end.

Fat Albert the RAF Hercules came for a fly by of base they were originally going to do an airdrop for practice but decided not to after all. We all have tomorrow of in celebration of the Royal wedding so shall enjoy a lie in followed by lots of physical exertion in the gym and chippy shop woodworking. Have a great weekend.

Picture diary

April 24, 2011   

Pipit and Prion were used to taxi the officers and crew of HMS York

HMS York at anchor off Hope Point by Sam Crimmin

Playing uckers in the wardroom – Sam is in the middle of a training game against P2 (pilot)

With three of the officers of HMS York on the bridge wing after anchoring at Hope Point

Sam as a penguin on the flight deck – we had an evening of penguin racing (like horse racing) the wardroom didn’t do that well in the gambling but fun was had by all!

Cape Disappointment named by Captain Cook after realising South Georgia was not part of Antarctica and was an island

On the flight deck of HMS York in Dabrowsky fjord

Captain of HMS York and myself after anchoring just off Hope Point

Happy Easter – what a week!


Lots to catch up on 🙂

Monday I was a grease monkey again all day working on the outboard engine and its 100 hour service. Due to lots of corrosion I had to drill, and helicoil out some bolts which had become part of the aluminum casing.

Tuesday the Royal Navy arrived for two days of shore leave so Matt boat and the whole base were involved in ferrying 93 people between the shore and the warship. First lot off were the EOD or bomb disposal team which spent 5 days in Larsen House and each day they went out to various pieces of unexploded ordinance to blow it up in control explosions. There were quite a few large bangs which particularily excited the guys on base! The flares that we had that were many many years out of date went off with a particularily large bang along with a still live harpoon gun from the whaling station at Grytviken.

Wednesday was a crazy day with two fishing boats arriving for inspection, another 90 people to transfer ashore and a ship arriving at our jetty there were ships all over the place and we joked about needing a traffic scheme at Hope Point. We also took the bomb disposal team over to the Barff Peninsula. We were lucky as the weather held out for us a little cold but not too windy and no rain or snow. In the evening after a night pick up from one of the fishing vessels we had a bomb disposal demonstration. Tommy set up the plastic explosives and I was allowed to detonate it from a safe distance away.

Thursday morning the girls on base (except Katie) were transferred aboard the warship for a ”cruise’. It was an amazing experience. We had 2 and half days aboard staying in a petty officers 6 bed dorm and dined the first night with the Captain. The wardroom were so inviting and hosted us the whole time with many tours of different areas of the ship – engine room, operations room etc. We were invited up to the bridge for weighing anchor at Hope Point and anchoring in Gould Harbor where we spent the night and watched the sunrise.

Drygalski Fjord

It was a very interesting experience watching the 10 people on the bridge of a warship and their interactions. I remarked to the Captain at dinner about the skills required to be officer of the watch and conned the vessel to anchor. He replied that you get use to it and it is easy inviting me to do anchor when we came back to KEP. So there I was on the bridge conning a warship into anchor at Hope Point on Friday! Something that has happened only a couple times in naval history according to Simon. It is indeed hard to take the verbal inputs of where we are etc and translate that into orders for the helmsman, throttleman and anchoring team. It is something that I normally internalise and reaction to myself with subtle changes in my throttle and buckets combined with helm movements and I don’t even really think about what I am doing it is just a natural reaction.

I will write more today however, must rush off to help with some lines on a ship. HAPPY EASTER everyone.

Cooking, sewing and hiking

April 17, 2011   

Overnight the snow around base has melted away due to increased temperatures bringing rain. At least we made some use of it while it was here and hopefully we will get some more in the near future. I introduced everyone to American pancakes – buckwheat ones to be exact and they seemed to go down a treat. There was some educating of how to eat them required – as in no lemon and sugar instead butter and maple syrup.

We also had some very tasty freshies – pineapple, oranges and melon.

The bananas that were not doing so well when they got here I made into banana muffins.

After breakfast I worked on turning an old climbing harness into a hauling harness for manhauling. We don’t have many harnesses on base and I decided to save 90 pounds and recycle the climbing harness.

The padding in the belt is made from an old thermarest.

Before I headed out for a hike with Tommy to a small lake above Gull Lake I put a piece of beef and some veg in the oven to slow cook for 10 hours for dinner.

As you can see it was a truly stunning day with blue skies and a little bit of a breeze.

Seeing as it is Sunday night it is movie night so I must off to the movies! Hope you all had a great weekend.

Hauling the fuel!

April 16, 2011   

This morning Tommy, Sam, Rob and I went up to Deadmans all with different modes of snow travel! Tommy had his snowboard, Sam just snowshoes, Rob his skis and myself with snowshoes and a sledge with hauling harness.

The boys had a great time skiing and snowboarding on a few patches however, they did cause some damage to their boards and skis with scree that came through the snow. I picked up the jerry can of kerosene and put it on the sledge and hauled it the rest of the way to the hut about 9km round trip. A rope brake worked great for the downhills so I didn’t get taken out by the sledge. A small load but noticeable.

Pictures are by Sam Crimmin

I have spent the afternoon making some accessories for Tommy and my rucksacks to hold ski poles, avalanche probs, avalanche shovels and his snowboard. I am also making myself my own towing harness to take with me when I leave. A good way to spend a blowie rainy afternoon. Oh and Ruth did a grand job of cutting my hair. Tomorrow I am on earlies and am going to make american style buckwheat pancakes with the maple syrup my parents brought for everyone on base. Hope you all had a great saturday.

Never have too much of a good thing

April 15, 2011   

This morning there wasn’t a stunning sunrise however, the light for the morning was beautiful bright blue skis sparkling off the snow. It was hard work on my run as the snow was deeper it took me 40 minutes for my normal 20 minute run. Back home for a quick bowl of porridge before getting to the boatshed to start servicing the engine.

The lower unit polished up with new gaskets and an impellor that was removed and checked ready to go back on the engine.

The parts suppliers back in the UK for our engines had responded to my request for advice on getting into the water pump seals which was very efficient of them. I took the powerhead off the engine and started to clean everything throughly and regrease it all with 600 + hours on the engine it has never had a really good clean just grease and corrosion guard has been added on again and again.

Middle section of the engine with the lower unit and powerhead removed.

Power head removed and ready to clean away all the grease

Powerhead ready to be cleaned on monday morning

I didn’t really even get 1/2 way through the job before it was time for a quick lunch so I could get scrub out done and go for a snowshoe after work around Gull Lake.

Tommy came with me bringing his snowboard and actually got quite a few turns in on the track on the way home.

We first went up across the Dam which made for some interesting crabbing with snow shoes for Tommy!

The leeward shore of the lake was piled up with ice fragments which were beautiful in the falling sun.

We had a good pace going and got home again just as the light faded and it really started to blow. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get up to Deadmans and take the jerry can of kerosene the rest of the way to Maiviken Hut. For now time to relax with a good book (more exactly my kindle!) unfortunately not in front of a fire but in the warm and cozy KEP bar.

Photo by Rob Webster of the Bar

Have a great weekend everyone.

Working on lower legs

April 14, 2011   

The sky was a brilliant red which reflected off the water in the cove but for only about 5 minutes this morning. A really stunning morning run. By 07:30 when I was at my desk the first big snowflakes were coming down and it continued to snow all day until 4pm when I took off on snowshoes with Rob to Deadmans.

With my GoPro camera on my helmet courtesy of the pot luck crowd in San Francisco and the crew and owner of Chance

As the roofs around base heated up the snow started coming off in large rooficles (the same shape as the corrogations!).

During the work day we have continued to do some work on the RIBs and Matt took apart the lower leg of the second to last engine that needs a full service. Unfortunately it was full of water in the lower unit so it needed some new seals however, it wasn’t coming apart easily. Seeing as Matt was on earlies and needed to make dinner I took the lower unit off the one waiting for it’s full service and serviced that so we could swap the lower units as the engines have only a few hours difference in running time between them. We like to keep the boats ready to go out at any time.

Rob took some really great pictures of the walk through Grytviken (see below) and up the hill to Deadmans where we retrieved the jerry can of fuel and moved it to a higher vantage point but still next to the bamboo stake used to mark it when I hauled it up there on wednesday. Things can get lost in the snow very quickly around here with the wind blowing the powder around.

Tracks in the snow

April 13, 2011   

The light this morning was beautiful for my run and there was hardly any breeze. Lots of great tracks to look at in the snow!

Furry flip marks

JCB going to Grytviken

Ali put his skis on and poled himself around about 20meters!


Giant Petrel

On my morning run

Tommy doing earlies

After work I took a jerry can of kerosene up to Deadmans for at Maiviken hut as we were running low. I packed it in a rucksack put on my IPOD (coutesy of Scott, Adam and Guillemette) and listened to some upbeat music while climbing the hill to Deadmans. There was at some points 10 inches of snow in drifts but mostly around 4 or 5 inches however, I didn’t have to break the trail as the yachties had been up the track ahead of me during the day as had Alastair on his poo collection! When I got to the top I paused long enough to listen to the complete stillness as there was no breeze at all. The only sound was the overflowing streams full of snow melt cascading down as waterfalls along Bore Valley. It seemed like I was looking at a black and white picture with the exception of some tussock grass peaking through at the beaches of Maiviken. I changed tracks to classical from Out of Africa on the way back down with no load on my back it was a very pleasant walk. I rounded the corner to Grytviken and was met by a profusion of color the buildings, the mirror still cove and the sun setting which left tinges of pink high above the gray clouds. Time for dinner cooked by Tommy which was tasty (chicken, stilton, mushrooms and rice) and a few hours of work on my MWP in the wood shop.

Tommy’s snowboarding attempt!

April 12, 2011   

I started work at my normal 7:30am after a run in the snow so I could finish at 4pm. Tommy persuaded me to take 30 minutes for lunch and I had some things to drop off at the hyrdo so we left base at 3:30pm. We were in search of a slope with enough snow for Tommy to snow board. So we trudged up the track to Gull Lake left off the torches and gas bottles in the hydro and kept on going up into Hodges Bowl.

At some points the snow was half way up my thighs and in other places there was just ice clinging to the scree.

We got back as the sun set but with our head torches and all the other safety gear it was safe as houses – just a tad windy. Race Antarctica started so it is time to clock up those miles. Tommy and I agree that post hole digging through the snow should equal more than running on the pavement in Cambridge or on a treadmill but lots of things in life aren’t fair and post hill digging is a lot more fun 🙂