Stonington Diaries week 3

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

15 January 1948
Base E Journal

Dog feeding and general routine work occupied most of the day. Butson put a stopping in one of Tonkin’s teeth, and in the evening, Butson Walton and Elliott went off for about ten days to Neny Fiord to collect rocks, lichens, and do a spot of surveying.

#StoningtonDiaries 

15 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

The furious gusts that greeted us during our input at Stonington have now abated leading to a time of relative calm both with the weather and for the team. Today was a day to slow down and consolidate the equipment whilst also organizing the living quarters into a functional space required for our next 10 weeks. Those tasked to outside work needed hats and neck buffs to protect themselves from the heat not the cold today as it’s been a memorable day in our theatre of wonderful panoramic views. Regularly all eyes scan the North-East glacier as we hear the cannon like rapports signaling another collapse of the ice edge which is only a stone’s throw away from our camp thus causing brash ice and ice bergs to be swept around our Island in the current. Another sound that captures our attention is that of the “blow” from a minke whale patrolling close by in Neny Fjord as it searches for food. Whilst the wildlife here in none too great in species or numbers adelie penguins, Weddell seals, nesting terns, passing blue eyed shags and courting skuas are counted as our close neighbours. The day is now turning cooler, let’s hope the collapsing ice does not keep us awake again.

 

16 January 1948
Base E Journal

Today we have been having a real field day on the generator. Nobody knew much about them, so we started from first principles and gradually worked our way up. By the afternoon we had narrowed everything down to brush trouble on the D.C. communicator ring, supplying the field current. If the reader understands all that then he’s better off than I am. We had to use the American transmitter for our schedule with Snipe. 

#StoningtonDiaries

16 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

This morning we awoke to a light snowfall, reminding us that we are in Antarctica after the last few days of glorious sunshine. It was particularly interesting for Geoff as his trousers filled with snow during his trip to the alfresco toilet. However, by the time we had finished breakfast and our morning meeting the weather had brightened making for another day of productive work and an important milestone for the start of our project - removing the shutters to Base E! Mike, Al and Geoff have begun with the lower floor windows allowing light to trickle in to the ground floor rooms and highlight the homely feel of the hut. This evening Toby and Jo have continued to make the weatherhaven feel as comfortable as possible and have used the oven for the first time (instead of the hob), finishing off the evening with a hot pear and rhubarb crumble with custard :)

17 January 1948
Base E Journal

Barrack room sports occupied most of the morning. Jones sorted out some of the various tins and drums which we have in the ration store. He also assisted Stonehouse in washing the sheets and airing the beds for Butler and Mason who are now at the plateau met. Station, and should be down here fairly soon. We made a cake for them, and talking of cakes, McLeod opened a box of his which has been lying under a snow drift for nearly a year, and found 5 dozen eggs and a cake which had been sent from his home. The eggs were rotten, but the cake was as fresh as ever.

#StoningtonDiaries 

17 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

While the rest of the team were working on removing the final shutters from Base E, Torb has been organising the teams food supply. Food is important to keep the team healthy and happy. If this box gives the team bingo wings and wobbly bums then they haven't been working hard enough.

#StoningtonDiaries

18 January 1948
The Base E Journal

A day of rest. The wind for up fairly strongly at one time but subsided towards the evening. Two of our madder citizens took the small dinghy and the outboard motor, and went round and round the small pond at the bottom of our garden.

#StoningtonDiaries  

 

18 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Today we witnessed the power of nature. We were eating our pancake breakfast, when a large ice cliff calved off followed by half a loud rumble which lasted several minutes. We all rushed out of the tent just in time to see the large block of ice with the size of a multi-story building collapse into the sea, creating a standing wave. We successfully removed all the shutters on the buildings ahead of schedule, circumnavigating the island, surveying wildlife and historic points of interests. With great relief we finished off the day with the erection of the toilet tent.

19 January 1948
Base E Journal

Apart from the routine work, which now includes decoding and recoding the ice reports, we cleared up a large area of the beach where seals had been cut up during the winter. It was a most unpleasant but necessary job. Jones worked in the ration stone in the morning, sorting out the drums of oil etc. While putting one drum up on a stack, he unfortunately spilled it all over himself. The only sympathy he got was great volumes of laughter from the witnesses.

#StoningtonDiaries

19 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Walking around the base E hut toward the other out buildings, a number of colour coded meat tins have been set up by our geomatics specialist Nathan, they have been placed with precision as they are his targets for structure from motion photogrammetry. Basically, they are reference points used for the 3D model. It looks a fun job as he gets to see the best views from the highest points (approx. 30m ASL) whilst collecting GPS points around the island. The results from Nathan's work are to be used by the architects and a public outreach project in the future. With the weather remains stunning here at Stonington, it is encouraging that this project will also be carried out at the American East base, please note we will cook the cans of meat at a later date.

20 January 1948
Base E Journal

We did more work on the apparently never ending job of making an inventory of all stores at the base. Eileen was good to us, and presented us with 3 dogs and 1 bitch which now brings our total of young pups to 10 dogs and a bitch. A very nice 11 dog team in 2 years’ time.

#StoningtonDiaries

20 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Yesterday the team were surprised by a 'Mock' emergency scenario. It was a good chance for us to work as a team to test and review our emergency procedures. This included using the first aid kit and building materials to improvise a splint, taking patient observations and checking vital signs, accessing the emergency satellite phone to report the accident and 'request assistance' from the nearest ship. The whole team agree that the exercise was extremely useful. One of the more interesting tasks was trying to make an improvised stretcher to carry a patient from the scene of the accident to the warmth of the weatherhaven tent where we would warm up the casualty and give ongoing treatment until assistance arrived. We tried several options using blankets, emergency shelters, ladders, scaffold poles, timber battens and, a sledge. Now that we have a good idea of our options we would be in a good position to assess the condition of the casualty at the time and use the most suitable measure. I am now going to finish writing up my report whilst trying to drown out Toby's interesting Norwegian singing with some Kate Bush!!

21 January 1948
Base E Journal

We had a very busy day cleaning up the base area over which more and more seal blubber fed to the dogs during the winter is still appearing. In the evening Stonehouse went out in the dinghy in the tide crack in front of the Base, which is now about 50 yards wise and 70 yards long, and caught 36 fish. On examining these later he discovered what he thinks are tame worm effs in the stomachs, this may explain how all Weddell seals are infested with these parasites. Butler is still at the Plateau Met station unable to get down owing to rog.

#StoningtonDiaries

14 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

A quick update from Stonington today as we are busy showing visitors around our new home. The National Geographic Explorer arrived at lunchtime today and after a quick presentation on board from Joanna and Michael, our new friends have been popping over on Zodiacs to take a look at the work we are doing on the huts, take a walk around the island and visit our Post Office - the most southerly British Post Office!

Over the course of the day we will have had over 150 visitors. All have been really interested in the work we are doing, asking lots of questions and taking many photographs. We are lucky enough to have been invited on board this evening for hot showers and a nice meal, we can't wait.

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Read what the team got up to in week four of their journey

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