Archive for July, 2011


Snowshoeing for science!

July 6, 2011   

A few of my friends seem to be doing charity walks but being down here I am walking for science instead!

Today I went with Ali to Maiviken beaches to collect seal poo. As we are in winter conditions he had to have someone with him which gave me the perfect excuse to go for a long snowshoe for work.

I skinned along the track changing to snowshoes at the church. Such a stunning day – this picture was taken from Deadmans looking towards Gull Lake. You can see small tear shaped avalanching on the sides of Brown.

When we got over Deadmans at the top of cardiac hill there were ice covered grass like I had seen at Shackletons waterfall on Sunday. Ali decided they made tasty ice lollies.

When we got to Evans Lake the ice was thick enough to walk on. I am standing on the trail of a fur seal which froze solid in the slush ice. We followed it to see if it produced some samples for Ali as the lake was frozen solid the seal had made a long overland journey from Evans Lake to Tortula beach.

This is a penguin motorway – the few gentoos remaining in the colony go out to feed every morning and back at night.

Finally we got to the beach and found some seals hiding out amongst the tussock.

Some of the gentoos were hanging out on the beach with icicles hanging off the surrounding cliffs.

After looking for samples along the beach we had lunch finding some tussock to sit on. Being American I needed a cup holder so made one out of the tussock by tying it together.

As the sun went down the light was beautiful I kept on stopping and looking back to the beaches. We rarely see sunsets as Duse over shadows base.

When we got back after 5.5 hours (around 12km) of snowshoeing – which by the way is quite difficult over tussock – we put the sauna on and relaxed for a half hour. Before dinner I jumped on the bike cycled 20km while watching an episode about Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, James and finally William of Orange. Quite a full day – beautiful weather.

Pub Crawl


Saturday night we had the annual pub crawl. There were 5 pubs in total put together by base members. Seeing as I was on cook Matt Boat did a grand job setting up our marine team one by himself. Our bar was first a cruise ship theme- on the jet boat serving champagne with Chopen playing on VHF channel 15 from the boatshed!

Tommy standing outside with his glass of champagne on the aft deck!

Next stop was the Irish Bar at Discovery House put together by Maureen and Robert. Complete with questions pulled out of a hat about all things scottish or irish before you could receive a drink!

The beakers including Ramon (an observer from a toothfish boat) put together the most amazing ice bar. They had collected snow and put it in the freezer and then carved out ice sculptures with strobe lights inside. The glasses were also made from tap water frozen into glasses with homemade rasberry vodka. A lot of effort that was well worth it!

Rob’s bar was in the Sauna where he served white russians as the theme was Georgia (as in the Russian state). Ali decided to take his carved penguin with him where the poor thing obviously started sweating quite a bit!

Last but not least was the basement (sewage plant room!) nightclub complete with handstamps to get in low ceilings, loud dance music, vodka jelly and pills (skittles) to pop. Well done Tommy and Matt.

As the sky was so clear we did our midwinter photo Sam and Ali did a great job with the star trails and merging everything together so we didn’t have to stand in the minus temperatures for 2 hours!

Krill boat inspection

July 5, 2011   

This morning I went aboard a krill boat with Robert as he needed a witness during his inspection to issue them a license. This is a view from the bridge of the vessel showing the krill trawl net.

The ship is basically a mini Grytviken processing the krill into oil, powder etc. all aboard the vessel. It has mincers, boilers, centrifuges etc. and an army of engineers to run the machines.

After the inspection as it was such a stunning day we took three hours off work and all except Matt Mech took to the track for a skin and ski. Unfortunately the snow was not good enough for downhill and as we were scraping up our skis with rocks we decided to go back to work.

Happy 4th July

July 4, 2011   

So while my friends in the US had the day off to celebrate the 4th July I was shovelling heavy wet snow and setting off flares. The shovelling meant I didn’t have to lift weights in the gym which is a boring part of my daily routine!

It snowed last night indeed by 11:30pm when I did lates it was already about 8 inches of snow. This morning Rob ticked the winter travel reg box which means full avalanche kit and two people when going off base.

With all the snow there was a lot of shovelling along the walkway. Whom ever designed/built the place decided it was a clever idea to have the walkway extend beyond the roof so the snow falls off the roof onto the walkway instead of to the outside. Not clever.

At lunch Sam, Tommy and I went for a skin around Grytviken which was beautiful in the blanket of snow.

Ali’s penguin from the pub crawl became the KKK penguin with a peaked snowy hat.

Tommy serviced the washer and driers and had an A+++ rant on the board about lint after someone left a napkin in their pockets.

After all the midwinter present making the chippy shop was full of sawdust and needed a good sort out. I made a bonfire from all the sawdust and scaps and put the wood up on some pallets as the heavy rain has been driving in the door and soaking the wood on the floor.

As there were no fireworks on base for me to celebrate 4th July we set off a few flares at the wharf that were out of date.

After setting off the flares it was time for a movie and sitting on sofas at Shack Villa as Kieron and Ruth went back to the UK today for their 4 months off.

Meat Cookery in the plant

July 3, 2011   

This is taken in the building known as the plant which contains the meat cookery which is larger than the blubber cookery. Several alternative or parallel processes were involved varying from one station to another in the plant. The extraction of oil from meat is more complicated than from blubber. The meat was sent in elevators up into the meat loft and into the top of the cookers after being cut into pieces.

Originally there was 16 pressure meat cookers that were replaced in 1956 with two rotary 24 ton cookers and one 15 ton cooker which pressed the oil out of the meat. The oil was blow off to separators from the cooker and the solid remains transported to the meal processing plant. The meat was pressed in a press that extended over four floors allowing input from the meat loft, bone loft and ground level platform. The meat on the top level dropped from conveyors onto rotary cutters to the third leve where it was distrubuted on another conveyor into five holes leading to the second level.

The meat went through five tubes 10m+ long being heated and screwed through onto vibrating screens.

Any liquid passing throught the screens went to centrifuges (beautifully made out of high quality stainless they still spin freely today) removing solid particles and onto a seperator plant.

The solids on the screen went to the ground floor where it went through screw presses.

Sunday walk


The wind died down so I went for a walk over to the waterfall above Shackleton’s grave and then up to Gull Lake which is well frozen.

The ice in the center of the waterfall was shaped by the wind and had collected around pieces of grass.

Saturday cook

July 2, 2011   

I was on saturday cook (above picture is sunrise from the kitchen window) but seeing as we were having the pub crawl we did dinner an hour earlier and I made just main and dessert. As it was close to 4th July I decided to make food that was themed on what I would have had at home had I been in SF for the 4th.

I did a barley yoghurt pancake breakfast with a choice of bananna or pumpkin muffins. Not sure I will do it again the buckwheats I feel were much tastier! After breakfast it was time to take Robert out to La Manche for the trans shipping clearance procedure.

On the way back up from the boatshed I did my shopping at the food store South Georgia style!

Potatoe, green bean and bacon salad

Lemonade made from lemon juice (bottled kind unfortunately) but still pretty tasty

Rainbow trout fillets on a bed of mixed forest mushrooms

Dessert of apple pie with homemade vanilla ice cream or pumpkin pie (I know more thanksgiving than 4th july!) still trying to use up the pumpkin puree from the 40lb pumpkin that was send down from the Falklands.

Wars of the Roses and Waterfalls

July 1, 2011   

Well it rained and rained! I haven’t seen rain like this since I was walking the Milford Trek in NZ. All the snow in the area has melted and combined with the rain there are torrents flowing down all the hillsides. The waterfalls off Duse are postively roaring and the cove is a muddy brown from all the silt.

Substantial damage to the track by the rainfall washing away large sections leaving the optics and low voltage cables uncovered.

Seeing as it was meant to be a day off as we worked two days over midwinter week we had the day off. But not really! Because Saga Sea a krill boat came in to tranship to La Manche who was anchored off Hope Point. I was worried about the wind building so the minute they were ready for us we wanted to head out. Well the wind built before they were ready going from averaging under 10 knots to averaging 20 knots which is still within the boating limit. Looking at the conditions from the boatshed it didn’t look like we were going to be able to safely board however, we might as well try as we were all suited up and there was science waste (fish parts etc) to go out either way.

We headed out and the minute we were out of the lee of Sooty Bluff the large rollers hit us and with some 35+ knot gusts we decided to bag the attempted boarding. The waves were 1/2 way up the pilot ladder at some points pushing it to 25 degrees off plumb! One of the problems is our outside helm position is on the port side. If the pilot ladder is on the port side of the vessel than we either have to come in downwind and down waves so we can see the side of the vessel and line up our entry and exit off our launch. In the conditions it would not have been possible to come downwind and wave so I was having to helm from the inside helm position so I could see the side of the vessel but this means lining up our entry and exit is impossible as I can’t see my fore and aft positioning. Though even if my outside helm had been on the starboard side the conditions would have made it unsafe to board. In fact The vessels ended up untying from each other and lifting anchor. La Manche went out to sea to ride out the storm and Saga Sea is hiding in Cumberland Bay West. Maybe tomorrow they will be back though the wind is meant to stay up.

After our boating excursion I did a bit of wood work on my surprise project tools being used are laid out in the picture above. It is great to have a workshop with relatively good tools and work benchs.

I have started another book sent down by my friends in CA – Two Years Before the Mast which I read with a hot chocolate and marshmallows before heading to bike through the History of Britain. Today saw the Plague killing half of Britain the death of King John and the Black Prince. The coronation of Richard II a boy King who wished to be refered to as Your Highness and Majesty and at the age of 14 crushed a peasants rovolt. The fall of the house of York leading to the War of the Roses and the rise of middle class Britain.

This evenings entertainment is the annual darts match by webcam against Rothera.