Archive for August, 2011


Weekend fun

August 30, 2011   

Saturday was absolutely stunning so I went for skin on my own up to Gull Lake and did a circuit. In the middle I took off up the ridge and had lunch looking into Junction Valley and at Mt Paget and Sugartop.

The snow has be sculpted by wind where there use to be a waterfall. It has drifted to the wall making it possible to ski along the wall of the dam area.

Friday I made some fruit bread as we had plenty of plain and as there were freshies made a steak fajita feast for dinner.

Every morning I eat yoghurt which is made using powdered milk and powdered yoghurt culture it is very tasty and only takes a few minutes to make.

On Sunday it was OK weather in the morning and we had some work to do so Rob and I took Robert out to La Manche who was transshipping with Saga Sea. The first trip out was stunning however, the snow shower and fog had come in by the second trip. As it got even warmer it turned to rain just in time for our BBQ! Typical…

Monday was a bank holiday in the UK so we took the day off however, Ali and I took off on the fisheries patrol vessel to do some science work for the week.

The week in pictures

August 26, 2011   

The skiing in Pinnacle Bowl on Monday was not as great as Saturday due to the high winds on Sunday scouring away a lot of snow. Tommy, Matt and I went up to the Bowl and despite lots of slabby snow Matt did a good job of learning how to ski and doing some turns. It was windy as you can see from the picture so there was quite a bit of spindrift.

Tuesday Ali, Sam and I headed over to Maiviken after lunch to collect samples for Ali and to watch the gentoos returning from sea. Every morning they leave the rookery and go to sea to feed to come back in the evenings. There are around 1000 of them which means they were sucessful this last year with low mortality rate amoungst the chicks. This time last year there were about 25% of this years numbers. We skied to the hut and then snowshoed to the beaches from there. When we got to the beach the swell from Sunday had scoured the beach leaving sheets of ice.

I was able to shoot quite a bit of video which Sam is going to edit into a little movie with some of her photos. I will put a link up when we have something to show. Below is one of her shots it was hard to get them in the action of jumping out of the water onto the shore!

We stayed the night over at Maiviken as it was very late by the time we left the beaches having collected all the samples. It was a clear night so Ali and Sam took some pictures of the milky way and some star trails which were really beautiful as usual. Early Wednesday morning we headed back to base. The temperature had increased substantially in the night leaving us with heavy wet cement to skin back in. It was hard going as we were carrying a whole ski length worth of snow up the hills! The contrast was so poor that when it came to the downhill after Deadmans I came halfway down and after a few scrapes of my skis as the snow was thin in some places I took them off. Sam, Ali and I continued with skis strapped to our rucksacks and snow shoed to the track before going back to skis without skins.

As it was Rob’s 29th birthday we had a tasty chicken dinner made by Ali and gave him a bunch of presents. I made the frame from California Redwood and Sam took the stunning panaramos of base in all the different seasons. The mount was cut by Ali which was hard going with the staggered photos and dates. Tommy made a beautiful hip flask out of copper sheet which he hammered and then soldered together. The flask was filled with some whisky from Robert made at a distellery near to where Rob is from in Scotland.

Trying to understand and therefore fix the electronics on the boats led to me making a block diagram of how it all goes together. Can’t problem solve without understanding how it works in the first place!

Yesterday we had boat school which was taught by Matt the topic being Search and Rescue planning. Seeing as he was a Coastguard Search and Rescue planner before coming south it was extremely informative and well written. He has been working on a project called Findafid since we got here – as I was not impressed by the search pattern information we had and asked him to use his vast experience to come up with something better which he has done.

The track was quite bare in someplaces when it came to the lunch time skinning session yesterday but with last nights and this morning snow that should be fixed by lunch today! This morning I am on earlies and it is not too nice out there. Low visibility with wind and snow. However, tonight as we will get freshies in today we are going to have a feast of salad which is very exciting.

We have La Manche the reefer coming in today a long with some krill boats. As the toothfish fisheries closes 31st August we will only be dealing with krill boats after next week and Katie will be back on base after almost 2 months away observing on San Aspiring. This weekend will be busy with boating and as it is a bank holiday monday it will be raining I am sure 🙂

Surfs Up Sunday

August 21, 2011   

Yesterday when we were out on the hills having a really great time sking in the best conditions we have yet had you could see the frontal clouds moving in from the North along with a swell starting to come into the entrance to Cumberland Bay. We finally left the bowl below Pinnacle pass when the sun was covered by the clouds and the contrast became poor. You can see an interactive Panaroma of the area taken by Ali on Saturday at
The internet has been down for a large portion of the time over the last few days due to the snow but I was able to get in touch with Dad for his birthday.

The surf started last night and by this morning there were large breaking waves in front of Everson House. In fact one came up to the height of Carse House passing between Carse and Disco House. If I was a surfer I am sure I would want to be out in the waves with a board! Might be a tad cold though…

I spent most of today reading a book which was very relaxing then my normal 1.5 hour session in the gym after digging out the boatshed door to get into the gym 🙂

As I was walking to the boatshed the sun was setting and it got more and more beautiful as I watched. On the way back the wind had started to get up and the snow was blowing and drifting all over the place. As the wind was behind me it wasn’t too bad. You can see an interactive panaroma by Sam of the sunset at
Time for dinner (which we cook ourselves on Sundays) and the movie tonight is Goldeneye staying with the recent 007 movie nights.

Happy Birthday Dad

August 20, 2011   

Today is Dad’s birthday so I can finally reveal the chippy shop project that I did back in June/July. Below is one of the chairs put together the other is flat packed in four parts ready to be boxed up to go back to the UK. Unfortunately for Dad he won’t get them till next May as that is when the ship will arrive from here next season!

I should explain – Dad has been wanting some Adirondack chairs for quite some years. So I collected many pieces of driftwood dried them in the boiler rooms and then milled them down.

Ali took this photo for me – enjoying the sun on the wharf after a skin round to Grytviken on Thursday.

Happy Birthday Dad you are the best father in the world!

A day for digging!

August 19, 2011   

There was a large dump of snow Thursday night so I spent most of Friday digging lots of doors out several times as the snow kept on coming off the roof. In the evening I went into the gym digging the door out before entering and then as the doors open out so much snow had fallen I couldn’t get back out! Fortunately there is a side door which doesn’t get the snow falling off the roof so I was able to get out that way and then dig out the doors once more!

Also the two jet boats needed snow removing as there is more snow forecast.

I also spent a frustrating time dealing with the boats electronics and finally created a block diagram of all the parts to the system and how the instruments all connect up. There is an inexplicable problem with the AIS on Pipit which I thought was going to be solved with a new antennae however, it wasn’t.

The masts holding the radar, DF antennae and AIS Antennae vibrates when the boat is moving so there has been over the years quite a bit of wearing out of the hole in the aluminium that the stainless bolt goes through. So we are making a tophat style washer to solve the problem hopefully.

After scrub out Rob opened up the results of the Antarctic Film Festival and announced them while everyone had gin and tonics in the bar. We did very well getting Best Film and Best Cinematography and were second in Screenplay category.

The other category winners were Bellingshausen Once in Antarctica, Halley The Antarctic Hairstylist and Crozet What if Popeye was a woman. To watch them they are only 5 minutes and are very good go to

Back in the water

August 18, 2011   

This morning we put the jet boat back in the water. As it was still and cold overnight the cove was covered in a small amount of ice but we were able to break through it even in reverse. With a small amount of snow on the slipway we learnt our lesson from last time and pre shovelled the snow out of the way so as not to have the trailer wheels bogged down! It was all work on the boats again today. Matt installed a refurbished seawater pump on Prion”s port engine as there was some weeping out of the one on the engine.

While I changed out the oil on the jet units reverse cylinder drive on Pipit. It was a lot easier than on Prion’s as I learnt a few little tricks.

The random chocolate box (not a real box of chocolates!) with wires in it and bare wires under the console was my next job as I traced them all. I had wondered why we had two GPS antennaes on the roof and how they were wired up but hadn’t had a chance to really investigate as it means taking down panels inside the cab. Turns out the random bare wires flapping around is a spare antennae and the chocolate box had the primary one wired up to it. As I was busy with a few other jobs I had Tommy come down and put in bullet connections so they can be easily swapped in the case of a problem. He hates boats and how little space there is on them – I told him the jet boats are positively spacious in comparison to most..

Lunch time was again at the hydro with a tasty roll (made by Ali) and it was back to base for more tidying of electrical items on the boats as I try to remove the gremlins.

As the day wasn’t that exciting above is a picture that Ali took and just gave to me. It is taken at Deadmans about 10 days ago when we were coming back from the poo collecting at Maiviken. I am carrying Sam’s skis and have a pulk attached to me while skiing which was quite a challenge!

In the outside world my brother should be finished with Fastnet in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. He has spent the whole day drifting around Plymouth 30 miles from the finish in no wind.

And just in case you are interested in what other people on base have to say about life at KEP today …

Tom Whitfield
tonights dinner conversation; we found out gold has a E number, we discussed the letter Q doesnt get used enough and U is always bumming Q and that Alastair Wilson has been using the sewage outfall hammer to break up our drinking ice

Sam Crimmin
thinks that breakfast condiment top trumps and the facebook page for the stolen guinness mug may be an indication that my fellow KEP residents have been in isolation a little too long.

Lots more maintenance

August 17, 2011   

As the boat was in the shed for the 1000 hour jet unit service I also changed out the AIS Antennae as I think that may be contributing to the problem with the AIS as the outer jacket of the coax was nicked slightly. So I used a trick an electrician friend of mine taught me. Remove the inner wire/plastic and put a 3mm line through the center then put the plastic cover back on and tape it all together. This meant I could mouse out the old antennae and only remove two panels of the liner in the cab.

My lunch time was over at the hydro again in the sun looking out across the bay. What a stunning sunny day.

Matt was on boat driving duty so he spent the morning taking the government officers to krill boats, reefers and Antarctic Bay to leave off Andy. As you can see it was a stunning day for a bit of boating.

The internal anode in the jet unit needed changing and the best way is to remove the screen from the hull and then reach up inside and swap with a new one.

The movie tonight was Quantum of Solace. When ever we have Bond on most people on station come to watch it is a pretty safe choice for the movie chooser!

Maintenance Day

August 16, 2011   

This morning dawned flat calm and clear and seeing as the high tide was at a sensible time we pulled Pipit out of the water for her jet unit service and a bunch of other small jobs. However, we haven’t even started them as Prion had some issues that needed to be resolved first. Matt had to redo the raw water strainer join which was leaking and while doing that found that the raw water pump is in need of a rebuild. Meantime Tommy fixed the bilge alarm and due to fixing that solved the AIS GPS conflict inadvertantly!

As the spring lines at the dock had some major wear on the shackles I ended up making new ones.

We covered the RIBs which we had to kick out of the shed to fit the jet boat in – as you can see it was a clear, sunny day. At lunch time I put a packed lunch in my bag and headed to the hydro where I sat on the shore and surveyed the beautiful calm cove.

Tomorrow it will be a day of servicing the jet units and pulling apart the liner of the boat to install a new AIS antennae. In the meantime it is time to start a new book I am trying to decide between The Joy Luck Club or You can’t go home again…

Meanwhile my little brother is doing his first Fastnet Race. He is in the doublehanded division and they should round the rock tonight. Unfortunately it looks like light winds and he is going 4 knots but the forecast is for winds from behind when they round so hopefully it will be enough wind to make way against any swell. The boat he is on does not perform to well to its rating going upwind in light air so he is not doing well in the rankings however, with hopefully 240 miles of downwind reaching conditions he might be able to make up a few positions. The boat he is on is an unfortunate colour (pink) so we are all going to give him some hassle about that – shame he wasn’t able to take our boat Santana 🙁

Miserable Monday

August 15, 2011   

Finally today we had a miserable day and it was a day off which was really great. I say that because if it is a beautiful day on your day off you feel guilty if you don’t use it by going out for walks.

I woke up earlier than I wanted to – unfortunately my body is programmed to get up and not let me sleep in. Tommy had made a crab with the bread! It will be interesting making that into toast!

I spent the morning reading a book given to me by some friends in SF called These is my words by Nancy Turner. It is a diary of a girl in the Arizona Territories from 1881 -1901. As a result I got hungry for some buttermilk biscuits so I made some for lunch!

In the afternoon I went to the gym and also started on another project in the chippy shop as I have collected enough driftwood for it. I also painted my project which I am doing as a present which will be revealed at the end of the week.

So all in all a relaxing way to spend a monday instead of working 🙂

Working Weekend

August 14, 2011   

Early on Saturday morning we waved goodbye to Maureen (Robert the government officers partner) who has had to leave to go back to Birmingham to teach special needs children. It was sad to see her go.

At the same time the Royal Navy were calling telling us that they were anchored and were ready for us to start taxing their 250+ compliment to the shore for a morning at the museum and post office like the RFA had on Thursday and Friday.

There was one penguin on the beach that got photographed by every person that came ashore!

We had a very tasty dinner at Carse House which Sam, myself and Rob were invited to. As I was on earlies I made the rest of base dinner and left it for them – duck breast with egg noodles and an asian fusion sauce.

As it was so cold -10C with a windchill of -27C the people that came ashore tended not to stay too long. As we were running two boats we were able to get 71 ashore in the morning on Saturday and then 64 in the afternoon. Then on Sunday we got 27 ashore in the morning and 25 in the afternoon which was not a great take up. Basically everyone was put off by the weather. I drove from inside the cab the whole time as it was a bit chilly to stand on the outside helm position 🙂

I was on lates on Sunday so got to choose the movie. First off we had a 45 minute documentary on Duncan Carse and his attempt to live on his own in a hut on the South Coast of South Georgia during the 1960’s. It was an interesting story. Then we watched Syriana with George Clooney and most people enjoyed it.

Photos by Sam