Archive for June, 2011



June 30, 2011   

Not the best picture sorry.. this is the library at Grytviken which is housed in the back of the church. It has many books from the other whaling stations which were brought to this library when the other stations were left to the elements. There are many books in Norwegian as well as English.

This morning big snowflakes started to fall around 9am and by 10:30 the whole place was blanketed in deep snow. However, by my lunch time run it was starting to get slushy and sleet so that by this evening we had rain and it was like walking through a slurpy. If it is cold tonight it will be slippery sheet ice tomorrow so I hope it rains overnight and I have a clear path for a run tomorrow. This evening while on my ‘bike’ ride I was in the era of Edward I through III with the battles on Stirling Bridge and Banoc Burn, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The rise of parliament in Britain and the attempt of the Platagonet Kings to rule over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.


June 29, 2011   

A day of more painting and fiberglassing to the sound of swell waves crashing against the shore and filling the cove with ice.

The transom on Alert lacked a stainless plate to transfer the load from the thumb screws so the gelcoat had compressed.

As we don’t have stainless plate on station I had to resort to a platter from the kitchen which normally is used for sledging when there is snow!

Blowing, glassing, grinding and painting

June 28, 2011   

After a little bit more shaping of the transom extension on Alert I finally put the glass on.

Unfortunately we don’t have peel ply or a way of vacumn bagging the glass so we will have to do with plastic and wood forms clamped in place.

One of our heavy crockpots got some tomotoe relish well and truly burnt on the person shall remain nameless. After a week of soaking, reheating, bleaching, oven cleaner, chipping etc. I decided to take the grinder to it with a wire brush. It made quite short work of the burnt part and didn’t wreck the enamel thank goodness!

The annual check of the self righting bag on Luna was due so using the air compressor I have blown the bag up and will leave it overnight to check for any small leaks. Tommy and I were disappointed as we thought it would inflate with more of a bang!

24 hours after the first coat we had another painting party in biosecurity and tomorrow we will move the gear back in so we can do the other part of the building.

With such warm weather and lots of rain recently the snow and ice has mostly been cleared on the track so I was able to go for a quick run around to the hydro during the drizzle over lunchtime. It was great to get outside for some exercise it seems like ages since I last did that run.

Painting and grinding

June 27, 2011   

I spent the morning doing a job I absolutely hate and will not go back to in the US! Grinding gelcoat… it leaves you itching despite being covered with PPE. After cleaning up including hosing the boat down outside in the rain I had a long shower and put my clothes in the work wear machines for two washes.

Five of us – the marine team (Matt and myself) the GOs (Kieron and Robert) and Sam the Dr emptied out the biosecurity inner room and after giving it a good clean started painting the floor. The paint is battleship gray and we all think it came from the military!

A sneak preview of my next woodwork project which is a surprise for someone at home. It has taken two full days so far and I think will take quite a few more as I decided to use wood dowels rather than screws to put it all together which is a bit more time consuming!

I have started a new series to bike to every evening at Carse. The collection is History of England and I have got to William the Conquer, Henry II, Richard the Lion Heart and John. It is a great way to stop from getting bored. Works out at about 25km per edition 🙂

Pythagorean theorem

June 25, 2011   

I was in the chippy shop all day as it was blowing snow horizontally all day and 30knots. As a result of what I am making in the wood shop (a secret) I needed to remember pythagourous theorem but couldn’t and nor could anyone else on base. So how many of you remember? We are missing Ali as he is on a science cruise and I am sure he would be able to tell me straight away seeing as he is encyclapedia brittanica. Instead I have resorted to google! Hope you had a good day where ever you are.

Shelving and sorting

June 24, 2011   

Today I spent quite a bit of time cleaning it was normal scrub out but seeing as the dining room and kitchen were such a mess I did a pre scrub out. The day seemed to dissappear with some morning boating which I did comms for and Matt drove the boat and then afternoon in the chippy shop.

I made a shelving unit for down sleeping bags in the travel store in my continued attempt to organise the room a little bit better. It is pretty rough as I used chipboard that was lying around and some thin ply that has a few holes in as it had been reclaimed from somewhere. After glueing and screwing it all together I suddenly got concerned it wouldn’t fit through the door and into the room however, Tommy and I managed to get it in with a little bit of shuffling.

Back to work

June 23, 2011   

Midwinter greeting cards from all the other Antarctic Bases.

Today we went back to work it was windy and rained during the night so the snow has washed away and left an ice rink outside the buildings! Matt took the engines off Alert and started stripping the transom so we can permanently make it higher to properly support the engines in their most efficient place. I worked on some carpentry for shelving in the field store and did some other odds and ends.

This evening we went to Carse House for a wine tasting and cheese evening organised by Katie. I bailed early as I am on earlies tomorrow and am tired. Decided to be boring and seeing as it is Friday will do fish and chips for dinner as everyone seems to like it on base.

Fifty Years Ago


Today is an important day in the Antarctic calendar. Exactly fifty years ago (23 June 1961) the Antarctic Treaty came into force dedicating Antarctica for ‘peace and science’. The treaty regulates international relations for Antarctica – Earth’s only continent without a native human population.

The Antarctic Treaty was born out of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-8 (an international effort to understand the Polar Regions better) with the 12 countries who were active on the continent at the time being Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Treaty was a diplomatic expression of the operational and scientific cooperation that were achieved ‘on the ice’.

The Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude. Its objectives are simple yet unique. They are:

* to demilitarise Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only;
* to promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica;
* to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.

The Treaty remains in force indefinitely and its continued success has been the growth in membership. Forty six countries, comprising around 80% of the world’s population, have acceded to it. Consultative (voting) status is open to all countries who have demonstrated their commitment to the Antarctic by conducting significant research.

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting, which is held yearly, is being held this week in Buenos Aires, home to the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters. BAS acts as an advisor to the FCO Polar Regions Unit at this meeting and John Shears, Robert Culshaw, Rachel Clarke and Kevin Hughes are attending.

Also today, the MOD’s new ice patrol ship HMS Protector is being unveiled in Portsmouth. A replacement to HMS Endurance, HMS Protector will continue hydrographic work and support to BAS in the Antarctic for the foreseeable future.

Hydro electric old and new

June 22, 2011   

The old hydro plant is to the right of me as you look at the picture and behind me in the distance the white building is our modern hyrdo plant. Despite favourable climate and topography hydro was not used at all the station. Grtiviken was the only station that used it long term and to its full potential. The hydro plant had 3 diesal generators to provide electricity for the near by refridgeration plant. Two pipes led from Gull Lake dam and turned three turbines and connected generators. There was also a small turbine in the station itself for winter use when staff numbers were lower.

These days most of our power comes from hydro in fact we use a very small percentage of it’s output. The remaining diesal boilers have been slated for removal and replacement with electric ones in the coming years. It does make us a bit lazy with turning off electrics as it seems like a limitless supply specially on rainy days such as today 🙂

More presents

June 21, 2011   

Tommy made a sculpture out of sheet metal which is a replica of the tatoo which Katie has on her foot.

Matt Boat made a jewellry box for Ruth which is perfect as she makes jewellry it is lined with old South Georgia charts.

Believe it or not this was completely made by hand by Rob. He is very talented and made his own guitar at Rothera when working there. The ukelali (spelling!) was made for Tommy and sounds absolutely beautiful.

Matt Mech made Robert a hip flask with shot glasses and a funnel from shell casings recovered from the Falklands and off the HMS York.

Ruth made a collage for Ali with lots of pictures of South Georgia etc.

Katie made Rob two presents – a pin mug with reindeer antler as a handle and this cut out of South Georgia which must have taken quite a bit of patience to cut and sand.

Ali’s present to Sam – the hinges were beautifully made out of ebony and welding rod and inside are many pages to mount some of Sam’s stunning photos

I made Kieron two presents. Tommy is sitting in the chair – it was made from mahogony that washed up on the beach from the fishing wrecks on the Greene. Being beach timber it took a while to mill to the correct size pieces of wood. The second present was a wind scoop for his yacht to draw in fresh air while at the dock.

The present Sam made for Matt is stunning but unfortunately I dont have a picture it is a beautifully presented journal with her photos of time on base.