Archive for November, 2011


Frank Wilde

November 27, 2011   

Today we all went to church. A cruise ship came in bringing the ashes of Frank Wilde to be buried in the cemetry next to Sir Ernest Shackleton. The boys dressed up in their suits and ties and the officers of the fisheries patrol ship were all in their shirts and ties with epallettes with the South Georgia crest. It was wonderful to see everyone make an effort.

The reverend of the church came from the Falklands with his wife to conduct the ceremony and there were many Wilde family members as well as Ernest Shackleton’s grand daughter. Luckily it was flat calm, sunny if not a little chilly.

Rob played two Shetland tunes on his fiddle, the church was absolutely packed and there were at least five TV cameras. Sam was the local Paparazzi all the pictures on this post are by her.

After a church service with hymns and eulogies by the Reverend and the Wild family members there was a procession from the church to the cemetry. The family members and VIPs were allowed inside the fence while the plebs (us included) lined up along the fence line to watch the proceedings.

The ashes were put in the ground to the right of Shackleton’s grave. The author of The Quest for Frank Wild who found the ashes in South Africa and organised for them to come to South Georgia owned the original cards that were put on Franks tomb in 1939. She had two of them laminated and attached them to a wreath which was laid on his new resting place in South Georgia.

The tradition of a toast to Shackleton with a shot of whisky then occurred and all were invited inside the fence for this. However, after the toast to Shackleton there was a toast to Wild before the remains of the shot were poured onto Shackleton’s grave.

Frank Wilde was Shackleton’s right hand man and stayed on Elephant Island to lead the men there while Shackleton headed off on the James Caird for help from South Georgia. It is fitting that he has been returned to the South to be buried next to his friend.

St Andrews

November 26, 2011   

After spending the weekend on base I repacked my kit and headed to St Andrews with Tommy on Monday morning. Tommy to have a holiday and myself to do some work on the hut. I managed to rope Tommy into the job for one of the 5 days of holiday he was very helpful. The weather wasn’t great until Friday and today when we got back of course it was stunning!

We met up with Anton and Leigh Anne at Hound Bay where we both stopped for lunch. They were coming back from St Andrews to Sorling and we were on our way out. After stopping and chatting we got up the hill towards St Andrews Col and the weather closed in so we could only see about 20 feet in front of us. It rained and snowed luckily it wasn’t too windy.

By the time we worked our way to the hut it was time for dinner and we were covered in snow/rain.

On Tuesday morning this large berg was sitting off Clark or Skittle Point (it is called both) and we went for a walk to the colony wading across the rivers that were running strong and deep.

Tommy and myself at the colony.

After lunch at the colony I headed back to the hut and put in some new boards on the veranda as they had rotted out. While Tommy smoked his pipe and read a book of erotic poetry by Ovid.

As the sun kept on streaming through the window at 3:30am I turned a Royal Mail bag into a curtain.

I also started on painting the hut with wood preservative as the wood had not been treated in probably 20 years. I think I preferred the weathered look but I am sure it will tone down quickly enough!

The rotten wood from the veranda and the roof made a beautiful fire for two nights in a row to sit beside.

Robert The Skua made certain to check that Tommy’s measurements were correct before any cutting of roofing felt was done.

Salisbury Plain

November 19, 2011   

Bob from the Fisheries Patrol Vessel took us to the beach (Salisbury Plain) on tuesday morning in the zodiac with a weeks worth of camping gear. We had steamed all night from KEP to the Bay of Islands after the Cumberland Bay Plankton Trawl. The primary purpose of going was for Pat to inspect the landings done by the cruise ships and to assess if they were taking sufficient measures to not unduely disturb the wildlife and to comply with the regulations of the SG Government.

There was one cruise ship already doing a landing so we cached our kit and then headed over to watch the landing and talk to the expedition leader. There were a lot of furries on the beach staking out there territories. Only one female had turned up and given birth. As the wind showed signs of increasing I headed back to the kit and put up the tents headed into the wind.

After lunch the wind shifted 90 degrees and came howling down the glacier increasing in strength to what I estimated 60+ knots. It proceeded to flatten Pat’s tent breaking four of the poles and piercing the flysheet. No pictures as I was too busy with Pat picking up the pieces! We decided to take down my tent before it was damaged. As Pat had his gear in a state that allowed him to move it and I had my kit out of my bags he headed for the morraine to seek shelter. I stayed and finished packing away my tent and organised the kit that needed to be moved the 1km to the morraine. I tied the rest of the kit to a 20L jerry can of water and covered the boatsuits with rocks. There was no shelter close to the morraine on the Plain so we had to climb up into the boulder field and found an area that was relatively sheltered that we could move a lot of rocks around and eventually create a platform of sorts for the tent. We were able to repair the poles from both tents and pack away the tent that was too damaged.

Taking Stephen Venables advice we put two poles into each channel and the tent was solid as it would ever be.

The advantage of the new campsite is that it was near a clean source of water that the penguins had not stood in! This was the storm clouds when I stuck my head above the parapet after re pitching the tent.

The next few days we sheltered into the tent while it howled a gale outside and sleeted, rained and snowed. Meanwhile we read a lot of books – I read about high altitude medecine and Pat read Ellen’s book ‘Full Circle’.

Thursday night was pretty cold before I went to bed I popped out to go to the toliet and my boots were frozen solid. On Friday morning the rivers were frozen but the wind had dropped and the sun started to come out so we could see the glaciers.

Self portrait taken yesterday just before being picked up by the fisheries patrol vessel.

Friday night I did the Rosita Bay trawls for Katie. This is the net going in for the first trawl.

We headed overnight back to base and arrived in Cumberland Bay to 35-40knot winds with 65 knot gusts. As the FPV couldn’t come alongside in those winds Matt came out to pick us up on the launch. Unfortunately one of the engines caught on fire as they approached so he quickly shut it down and headed back to base on one engine. We got back to base not much longer after Matt having caught a ride with Bob on the FPV RIB which was launched with us in it over the side.

Re reading the post I realise that I didn’t even mention the 10,000s of thousands of King Penguins which is why everyone visits Salisbury Plains. It is a colony which is a little smaller than St Andrews and it covers the Plain as well as the tussock covered hills above.

Saturday stroll

November 12, 2011   

After a late start as I needed to get some letters and CD’s ready to send in the mail which goes out tomorrow on a ship Rob and I headed out for a quick trip up Hodges. Rob hadn’t been up for a year!

It was a stunning blue sky day with a breeze making walking with a fleece comfortable. The clouds were beautiful with lenticulars stacking one on top of another like buttermilk pancakes.

The summit was quite breezy so I wedged my camera between some rocks to get this picture with Sugar Top behind us.

Back in time for a long conversation with my parents and a tasty Saturday dinner made by Ali of Bruschetta, Spagetti and cheese with biscuits.

Birthday BBQ

November 11, 2011   

I spent the day of working on a passage plan for going up to Bird Island which is 70 miles up the coast. It is highly unlikely that we would ever have to however, it is in the emergency plans that we might have to. Better to be ready for it rather than have to figure it all out on the fly. With Sally Poncet on station who knows South Georgia like the back of her hand I was in a great position to get the local knowledge of where to hide a small boat out of the elements all along the coast and in what conditions to go into each ‘bolt hole’.

After scrub out it was time for a BBQ aboard ship as there were two birthdays being celebrated.

So the ship go the hot tub out – as you can see Matt H and three of the crew are enjoying the hot tub on the foredeck.

As per usual the dress code at an Antarctic BBQ is normally insulated work wear!

All good fun and a great way to start the weekend off.

Picking up the campers

November 10, 2011   

Tommy and myself were meant to swap with Ali and Katie and head off to St Andrews however, with the hydro breaking down we have to postpone the holiday. Which turned out fine as the weather finally broke and was a bit damp and manky.

Ali headed over to Maiviken in the afternoon with Kevin and Peter to count the nesting penguins and apparently there are 350 which is more than last year so the Gentoos are doing well.

Matt and myself spent the day doing more maintenance jobs on the boats ticking things off the AMOS list. I am constantly amazed despite having done this for my whole professional life how much time boats take!

Sherpa Ashley


On Tuesday night the lights went out on base as the hydro electric plant bearings failed. The generators were turned on and the lights came back. However, this means burning diesel so Tommy and Erny (the new mechanic) started working on fixing the hydro. They worked hard all day wednesday through friday staying there till 9pm on tuesday and wednesday.

On Tuesday we had a cruise ship in the Plancius. I got a lot of odd looks when I jogged past on the track with a very large rucksack on my back. Tommy had requested a can of WD40 and a large roll of blue cloths to clean up the grease. So along I ran with some thermos’s of tea and the large rucksack.

On Wednesday I called Tommy at 5pm and asked if I could bring anything round. This time I got a request for a 110V transformer which I put in the sack on top of two sleeping bags I needed to deliver up to the tsunami shelter, two cans of coke and two snickers. As I had just left base Tommy called and asked for a crimping tool and some electrical terminations so I returned for those. Again I left running along and the radio went again with a request for some cable ties. Back I ran to base and picked up cable ties. I swear he was sitting at the hydro with a pair of binos waiting for me to set out again!

The 110V transformer.

The transformer was used to power a heat gun which was to heat up an oil bath to expand the new bearing so it could be installed in the place of the knackered one.

All good training for Aconcaqua!

Birthday and a talk

November 7, 2011   

It has been one party after another it seems! The Head of HR for BAS is staying on base for two weeks and it was his birthday so as I was on earlies I made starter of smoke salmon with puff pastry, a steak dinner with creamed spinach and potatoe gratin.

Followed by a chocolate cake that Tommy helped me decorate with Peter’s airplane. James had asked to look at a picture and got the registration for us and colours.

We presented him with a framed picture that Sam took of star trails at the Greene with the glaciers behind. I quickly through the frame together from some driftwood we had picked up off the beach on the Greene.

Dinner was followed by a wonderful presentation by Pat Lurcock of his slides taken when he did a traverse of South Georgia in 1999 with three others. It took 29 days in total and they climbed a total of 25000 feet over the 175km or so trip. No one has done this trip before or since – quite an accomplishment.

Sunday Stroll

November 6, 2011   

Winter has gone and the scree is back! Using muscles we haven’t used all winter. This is James up ahead of me with Rob ahead of him trying to get up to Minden peak from Echo Pass side.

The two Base Commanders resting at the rock we had lunch at. Les and I were behind having passed the 30 year old mark a while back!

At 2320 with a great view to Lyell Glacier and 3320.

The initial 2320 Minden peak trip expanded while we were out as it was such a beautiful day to 17km and four peaks! After Minden, an unnamed peak to the South, 2320 we crossed glacier col and climbed another peak to the East of Glacier Col following it’s ridge along to Penguin river. We crossed Penguin River (above picture) getting a little wet in the process and then climbed up Brown Mountain coming down the same way as the half marathon. From there it was to the museum for a quick stop to eat cheese cake. As it was Sunday evening we had movie night and watched Frozen Planet but not before I had a sauna and a bath. A great weekend all in all.

Guy Fawkes Night

November 5, 2011   

We dropped Ali and Katie off at Sorling for a holiday at St Andrews. It was a stunning day so we went down to the glacier and had a look before heading back to base for a group climb up Duse.

This was the first climb of the summer season as you can see different from our winter ascent a few weeks ago. We took James and John the new winters up and also Peter the head of HR. There was a snow petrel circling around the actual summit and the view was stunning. It was such a warm day we stayed up there for a while.

The group at the summit taken from another ledge to the North.

When we got back Tommy made a guy while I made Smore’s for on the bonfire. Sam had spent all day making chinese food which with all the many different dishes took her forever but it was very tasty.

Matt H made a bonfire with pallets and other wood we needed to get rid of and the Guy burnt.

We also did some flares training with the 4 new boat crews giving us a great ‘fireworks’ display.