Archive for July, 2011


Sam’s bakery, reefers and leps

July 16, 2011   

Between trips out to the two reefers – Shanghai Reefer and Frio Olympic I did a gym session, a run and a bike session. On the run I ran past a small lepoard seal hauled out on the beach which was well photographed by Matt, Sam and Ali.

Tommy drove the jet boat and did a grand job.

This is Robert on the pilot ladder of the reefer waiting for a pick up.

Meanwhile Sam and Matt Mech cooked up a storm. With Sam opening up the KEP bakery I had to keep going to do exercise to burn off the donuts and bacon slices. I have set up a hiking bench for simulating hiking out on a dinghy which provides a great ab workout and a block hanging off the I beam with a rope and weight to simulate pulling a sail up the mast.

Tomorrow there is probably going to be two ships in and Pat and Sarah return to the island after their 4 month holidays. The weekends don’t seem to have been uninterrupted for quite a while which is good for South Georgia with the fishing licenses provide a large portion of the government budget.

On the topic of the outside world I have to brag a little and congratulate. My little (24 year old) brother competing in his first solo race crossed the line first and decimated the competition on corrected time after an 80+mile race from Lymington in the UK to St Peter Port in the Channel Islands. He is competing in a week long singlehanded regatta. Also another win by the Hubbards (friends and clients of mine) with whom I have raced across the Atlantic and Newport Bermuda with. They were competing in the Transatlantic Race from Newport to the Lizard and corrected out first in class. I wish I had been able to do the race with them.

Blubber Cookery

July 15, 2011   

The blubber cookery where oil was extracted from the whale blubber after being stripped off in large sheets. These sheets were winched onto the blubber plan in front of the cookery where they were cut into smaller strips and fed into a small hole in the wall at found level.

This was the entrance to a rotating cutter driven by a steam or electric motor.

This cutter minced the blubber into smaller slices which were picked up by a bucket conveyer and transported upwards into the cookers.

Each cooker (12 cookers in total) held 25 tons the blubber was boiled by piping in steam. The oil then went to a seperator plant to for further purification.

Krill boats and tent repairs

July 14, 2011   

This morning there was sheet ice where the puddles were yesterday after a chilly night. Between repairs on our tents I did four trips out to a krill boat and reefer vessels with the government officer Robert and Andy Black. Sam went on as witness in the morning to the Korean krill vessel.

When this tent was in strong winds the tent poles broke and punctured the pole ”channels”. So today I stitched them all up practicing my suturing knot tying technique from Doc School.

More tent damage to repair that would have ruined your holidays!

The ship is not a factory ship like the one I went on so the krill is just frozen into blocks and kept in a hold at -30C.

The age and therefore condition of the recent Korean and Japanese vessels is in stark contrast to the krill vessels from Norway. The reefer vessel was the Shanghai reefer that had sailed for the Falklands and then turned around to refuel the krill vessel.

Another beautiful blue sky by cold day allowed Sam, Tommy and myself to skin around to Grytviken past Wendy (the weddell seal!) who was hauled out on the snow.

I am on lates tonight but won’t need my torch as we have a beautiful full moon lighting up the mountains covered in snow. I have now finished the History of Britain so I need a new documentary series to bike to in the evenings. Looking forward to the returning sun so instead of working out on a gym machine I can take to the hills again but that won’t be for at least another month.

Boat work, pulk changes and Doc School

July 13, 2011   

Wendy the Weddell seal who has been hanging around the track the last few days was on the shoreline when Tommy and Sam skinned by to the hydro plant to do some maintenance check. Sam took the picture above. I didn’t want to wreck my skis as with all the rain it was slushy so instead I decided to run which meant I got a touch damp but it was a great work out!

I have been going through all the tents we have on base, setting them up labelling the flys, poles and inners so we don’t get into the field and have an issue. Also finding the damage and putting it to one side to repair.

I also made very simple changes to the snowsled pulk so the cascade stretcher is secured inside – removing the snow fins and cutting down a foam pad to protect a patient from the metal parts and pieces in the bottom of the stretcher.

Also added strong attachment points allowing us to belay a patient down very steep parts and hauling points. When we have more snow we will try it all again.

I finished the extension to the RIB transom as you can see the plates I made to stop the thumbscrews from indenting into the glass are installed with the fuel filters. Now it is Matt Boats job to put the engines back on as it is his maintenance week and he is the outboard engine maestro.

We had a great Doc school with a scenario of a tourist having a heart attack and also one having an asthma attack. As I was on earlies I made a roast pork dinner with yorkshire puds etc.

The barrel of a gun..

July 12, 2011   

As the maintenance was under control and there was no krill boating today Rob and I took 2 hours extra for lunch and went for a walk along Brown Mountain plateau and back along the beach. As per usual I ran along like a naughty child while Rob loped into the distance – apparently his sister complains as much as I do about his stride. This is a picture of us with the Greene Peninsula across the Morraine fjord and Zenker Ridge.

We dropped down to the beach and had a look at what remains of the military presence on the Thatcher. This gun is set up next to an observation hut which is falling apart.

The gun up close – 4.5 inch, 1918

Walking back along the beach the kelp was a frozen mass and we dodge a few male furries but like last week at Maiviken they are not very brave yet and two of them quickly took to the sea.

It became quite warm when we got back to base and as the sun went down the snow was avalanching off the roof tomorrow will be slushy I suspect.

Edit 7/16 – I was incorrect it wasn’t military. I found some more information about the gun in a book in our library. During WWII the Germans operated in the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean in the spring of 1941 they captured some of the Norwegian pelagic whaling fleet. As there were concerns about enemy action a gun was installed in the two stations still operating – Grytviken and Leith. The gun at KEP was originally installed up at Hope Point and then was moved around to Susa Point.

Krill Boating

July 11, 2011   

The cold snap has created a lot of pancake ice in the cove and snow on the jet boats. As Pipit had passed the 1000 hour mark we moved her to the inside and will use Prion until we get the parts in to do a full 1000 hour service on the engines. Matt has rebuilt two engine pre heaters on Pipit so they are likely to go on Prion soon.

As Sam (who took these pictures) mentioned this is the Antarctic version of defrosting ones car! There was so much snow on the boat she was quite low in the water. Also you get blinded by the snow when it flies off the roof into your face at the outside helm position.

The Antarctic Bay is being towed by the Betanzos back to the Falklands. Andy who was on the boat as the observer is now back on base with us enjoying cakes! Apparently they didn’t make puddings on the Antarctic Bay and that is the only reason he missed us 🙂

The Shanghi Reefer hadn’t been to South Georgia before so the inspection took longer than usual but the transhipment of krill from the Fucknu Maru (spelling) was very quick and they were motoring out of the bay by midnight. The reefer was well covered in ice from sea spray. We did two trips one to take Andy and Robert out and at the same time did a bit of training towards the Nordenskol Glacier with Ali. The nunataks on the glacier were stunning in the sun light. We were back out as the sunset to pick them back up.


July 10, 2011   

This is in view from where I went skiing today it is where the freezer was. I must admit to not skiing that well I felt like a complete beginner not being used to skiing on grass!! It means you can’t use you edges so doing a turn becomes a little harder.

The freezer area in Grytviken was installed in 1961/62 before that it was in Husvik however, it was never operational. It was installed in Husvik to store frozen meat for human consumption but the meat was never used for that instead it went to the UK to be turned into cat and dog food.

The plant contained four compressors/refridgeration machines but was mostly used for storage.

Failed attempt number 2

July 9, 2011   

(us at the furthest extent with Cumberland Bay West behind us and Harpon!)
Rob and I got up early and headed off up the hill with 30kg rucksacks headed for Harpon only to be recalled! So yet again I made it as far as Echo Pass and not to Harpon. Oh well! Instead we get to eat at Carse House and enjoy what looks like a very tasty feast of pies and peas.

The reason for the recall was that a fishing vessel Antarctic Bay has had a breakdown and is being towed by another fishing vessel Betanzos towards King Edward Point. We are not sure if we can help with the repairs but if we can they will go back to fishing. If not they will have to be towed almost 1000 miles at 4 knots to the Falklands. They are still 6 hours out and likely to get in at midnight so will probably anchor off Hope Point.

The walk to our sun filled lunch area was delightful if not a little chilly -4 today and sometimes hard work. The snow was slabby in places and both Rob and I both found sheet ice at one point under 5 inches of snow. Both of us fell several times which is not too much fun with a very large rucksack on but were unhurt. I don’t think I will ever be able to walk comfortably with Rob as he is a giraffe and for every one step he takes I have to do two so he obviously moves ahead quite quickly despite my legs moving at the same rate as his. Several times I was heard to exclaim ”how is it possible you went from there to there in one step!”

So after unpacking my bag I had a hot chocolate and went to the bike to watch History of Britain and spin out 20km before dinner.

Doc School expedition

July 8, 2011   

Tommy was on earlies this morning and by the time we all got up the board was full! The above picture says the following
‘Looking for strong hardy men and women to manhaul thousands of millimeters across some of the toughest terrain in South Georgia.Will encounter landslides, blizzards, exposed electrical cable, flooding and wild beasts. A voyage of self discovery. Applicants must be light hearted, willing, furry faced, GSOH (good sense of humour), kind, loving and enjoy long walks along the beach. Return for smoko may not be guaranteed. ‘

We found that the stretcher I modified yesterday dug into the snow too much filling with snow and the fins dug into the ground as the snow was not very deep. So all change to the snowsled fiberglass pulk which is designed for man hauling and there wasn’t a problem with digging in or filling up.

As we were about to pull off down the track Matt Mech came to say he needed help as the sewage outfall had frozen over and therefore the sewage was backing up! Nice!! So Matt Boat, Tommy and Matt Mech had the fun job of power washing and roding out the outfall. Meanwhile I studiously worked on my computer!

After the outfall was sorted we headed out with the boys pulling the pulk full of books that needed to go to the musuem and then myself and Sam who decided to have a ride.

I clipped into the hauling system when we went uphill and it was hardwork requiring 4 people to pull uphill with Matt Boat sitting in the pulk. We learnt a lot about setting up the hauling system and how to come downhill safely on skis/snowboard and on snowshoes. I decided not to ski as the snow was thin and I didn’t want to wreck the base of my skis. After a break back at base it was time for the normal friday scrub out.

Turns out it would be helpful to recycle another climbing harness into a hauling harness so a project for next week.

Tomorrow Rob and I are off on a camping trip to Harpon for one night and won’t be back till Sunday. So have a great weekend where ever you are.

Krill boats and modifications

July 7, 2011   

Another blue sky day on South Georgia. We had two Krill boats requiring inspection today and as Matt had not been on one yet I drove the jetboat while he went aboard as a witness for the first one. The first was a converted container ship and the second a very old i.e. 40 years old Japanese trawler. All was fine until the starboard engine overheated as the water intake got jammed with ice even though it was taking water from the jet units! Once we cleared that we were good to go. The ice covered the surface all the way out to Hope Point as it has been cold recently. These inspections basically tied up base with boating all day so boat school didn’t happen.

In between boat trips I made modifications to our stretcher unit as tomorrow we are doing a SAR test instead of doc school to see how it goes manhauling. In the test we found the stretcher tends to take on a lot of snow so it really needs a cover which I will make.

Tubular webbing sewn on to handles with jubilee clips to stop them sliding allowing attachment to hauling harness.

Also it would be nice to be able to hook the handles to a hauling harness and when the handles are not being used it would be good to fold them back onto the stretcher without squashing the patient.

Piece of pipe and pipe clips riveted to hood stopping the handles from dropping down.

After seeing the pancake ice sliding around over the top of the optic cable yesterday at high water I went out with some water hose pipe taping and cable tying it on just as a bit of chafe resistance until it can covered with the JCB.

As I was on earlies I made a very simple slow cooked leg of lamb with vegetables and mashed potatoe. One of the krill vessels gave us some fresh fruit including some peaches. Dessert was peach shortcake with whipped cream – a little taste of summer here in the snow! What we all found ironic was this was the first time Tommy had eaten a peach – on an island in the middle of the southern ocean!