Stonington Diaries week 11

As our team are conserving Base E on Stonington Island we will be updating live diary entries from the team. #StoningtonDiaries will keep you up to date with what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen with this remarkable base. 

All images from 1948 have been reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. © Crown

13 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal

Yesterday was a magnificent day with hot sun and no wind: so much so that I was able to work stripped to the waist in the afternoon.

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13 March 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Suddenly, it's almost the end. It's been a big day here, as in preparation for our departure on Friday or Saturday this week, we took down the Weatherhaven tent, which had been our main shelter for the last couple of months. Why so early to take it down? The forecast for the next couple of days is for high winds, and it takes a lot of time to pack and move everything across the island to depot it ready for collection by the HMS Protector (British Naval vessel). It took all five of us to hold onto the heavy tent covering in the moderate breeze, and safely pack it away. Then the support poles come down, and finally the plywood floor panels are disassembled and sledged across the snowy front lawn to the beach. After several weeks in a living room with no windows, it was really quite lovely to see the view between the tent poles as we worked!

14 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal 1948

In the morning Adie and Brown went off to get seals and collected four Weddells which were all in camp by the afternoon. I have decided on a seal cutting up side on the top of the island for the present until the Front Bay freezes up again and we can bring them on shore by the blubber boiler. 

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14 March 2018
Base E Conservation Team

We have now finished all of our work on the historic huts at Stonington Island and it is time to close the doors until we get to return again, hopefully in a few years time. Toby finished his final job securing the main door on East Base and everybody is now in full swing with completing inventories and moving all of our stores ready for our collection on Saturday.

Joanna

15 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal

We worked on final store sorting and I hope to soon finish with that completely, We killed some more seals to keep us going and this is very necessary now that open water is cutting us off from the most of the remaining pack; however some will now haul out on the island itself no doubt. 

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15 March 2018
Base E Conservation Team

In order to send our daily diary entries, and to keep in touch with head office in Cambridge, visiting ships and family at home, we have this year been using a BGAN satellite system to connect to the internet and send emails. Whilst this is a relatively simple system that had been set up in our weatherhaven tent in a permanent location, now that we have dropped the tent ready for our collection we are having to set up the dish just a couple of times a day to send and receive batches of emails. Joanna and Toby can be found morning and late afternoon wandering around looking for a good signal. Not too bad, as long as you are wearing gloves!!

16 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal

In the evening we started up another large motor boat engine and got the boat down to the ice edge ready for launching. The nuisance is that she should be hauled out every day because we get masses of pack and bergy bits crowding into the shore in a half an hour. Especially does this occur when there is an ice fall from the large glacier which is continually calving just to the north of the base. 

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16 March 2018
Base E Conservation Team

I was rudely awoken this morning just before 7am to some very strange snuffling and grunting sounds, followed by some sort of growl. It didn't sound like the usual 'Jo, are you up?' shout from Toby's tent! I lay awake for several minutes trying to decide what was going on and not daring to look out. I finally decided to shout to Toby to ask if he had looked out of his tent. He promptly informed me that there was a very large seal right outside my door and maybe I might consider doing a 'back door shuffle' and exiting through the rear door of my tent. Just before I did though I couldn't help a sneaky look out and a few photos of this amazing creature.

Joanna 

17 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal

I have been over to the American base again today and find much os it is beginning to drift up and the canvas is tearing away from the woodwork which is covers. The passage between Ronne's room and the main building has entirely filled with snow presumably through the floor boards which the Americans tore up before leaving in their search of hidden articles of value. It was a queer thing that every man had his own hiding place for loot which consisted of food and valuable articles in the way of equipment. 

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17 March 2018
Base E Conservation Team

All good things must come to an end but still it is hard to believe that we are standing on the shores of Stonington Island ready to be collected and we won't be waking up to views of Neny and Millerand Island, Red Rock Ridge, Roman IV, the sounds of the NE Glacier calving and our penguin and seal friends tomorrow morning. Our field season has been filled with hard work, excitement as we welcomed new guests to the island, fun and fatigue, beautiful scenery and wet socks, but we wouldn't change a thing. It's been an amazing experience but before we can take our final rest we just have the small task of moving 3.5 tonnes of stores back onto the ship. See you soon!

Joanna.

18 March 1948
Vivian Fuchs' Journal

It has been very cold today owing to the wind. Tonight the wind has dropped and so has the temperature, there is the most magnificent yellow to indigo scene with icebergs showing black against the shining water, the distant ones making serrated edges against the distant orange sky. 

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