Stonington Diaries week 4

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

22 January 1948
Base E Journal

Butler and his party arrived back at Base this morning at 0645 hrs, the weather during the night had been excellent for travel so they made quite good time. 6 puppies which had been born at the met station 2 days ago were brought down in a ration box and had rather an exciting trip down, however they were lucky enough to only be turned over once. Spend most of the day getting cleaned up and getting 3 months growth of hair removed. Personnel and dogs returning from the trip were all in excellent health.

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22 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

We've all made it back onto the island with no stowaways...

We had an exciting evening on board the National Geographic Explorer as we were invited to answer questions from the ships guests. We were also offered showers, for our clothes to be washed and an amazing 3 course meal. This was most appreciated as it was a nice change from our freeze dried and canned food. At the end of the evening we were given a crate of fresh fruit and vegetables to bring back with us. This is an evening that will be well remembered. We are already looking forward to the next ship visit ;-) .......

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23 January 1948
Base E Journal

Another busy day spent working around base with the sledging party clearing up sledge gear. The sledges stood up excellently to the trip the only damage being one broken longitudal which was bound up with medical adhesive tape and gave no further trouble. Weather at Base during the past 2 days has been really perfect with not a cloud in the sky this makes up for any bad weather we have experienced here. The ice is now pretty well broken up outside Neny Island but in the Bay it is still fast, the Americans have been blowing holes in the ice in front of their ship all day in an attempt to help to get it free.

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23 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

We were blessed by having a stunningly hot and sunny first day off on our idyllic island.  The sun shone all day long which allowed us all to dry out and air our sleeping bags and generally re-organise our tents and belongings as until now we have been too busy to do so.  After a late lunch we all settled into various leisure activities including Nathan photographing the Antarctic terns, Michael caught up on his e-mails, and Geoff and Al completed a circumnavigation of the island walking along the waterline looking for wildlife which included several Adelie penguins and Weddel seals as well as the ubiquitous skuas which were being chased by the Antarctic terns.  The evening was capped off by a visit to our local cinema (aka Weatherhaven) where we saw a small screen presentation of the Antarctic classic "The Thing".

24 January 1948
Base E Journal

Usual Saturday morning barrack room sports and more work around the Base area. Jones removed the engine from the motor boar for a major overhaul as we hope to have her in running condition by the time John Biscoe arrives. Mason added to the seal reserve today by shooting an 8ft Weddell midway between Base and Neny Island.

#StoningtonDiaries 

24 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

It's hump day in camp (Wednesday) which means a day for me to catch up on project admin and my PhD research. Although we had around 4-5 inches of snow last night this is not stopping the team with progress and Michael, Al and Geoff have been busy continuing with emergency repairs to the Generator Shed. All is on track to move onto the Main Hut this week. After carrying out various surveys myself I am now catching up with typing up my notes, organising my photographs and collecting information that will provide us with a useful set of records about the buildings and help us to write our Conservation Management Plan. And of course, there is always time to have a little play in the snow.

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25 January 1948
The Base E Journal

For some reason or another Tonkin, who is cook at the time, forgot that it was Sunday and prepared breakfast at the normal weekday time causing much alarm and despondency. Spent most of the day doing local work, the motor boat engine is once again back in its normal mounting after having a thorough overhaul. In the afternoon Mason took out his team and collected a seal from the ice. More blasting work by the Americans on the Bay ice.

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25 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Our initial walk inside a darkened main Base E hut was rather depressing with flaking paint, dripping water and swollen wall panels greeting the eye but after the all the shutters were removed, some for the first time in over 40yrs, what a difference we saw. History oozed from the walls and one could only think of the view that the likes of Terry Tallis and Dave Burkitt witnessed of the dog teams coming home safely from the field down the North East Glacier from the Plateau; amphitheater, sodabread slope place names of a bygone era. The closing down of Stonners in 1975 by Graham wright and his team saved the building greatly with the outside in a far better condition than we expected. We all have our favourite rooms, some like the lounge with its remaining books on the shelves, a legacy of the 1600 that once were available. My favourite spot is the old dog harness store where the iconic names of the teams, the Ladies, Komats, Vikings and the mighty Huns stand proud, what a great connection to the dog teams of the past.

26 January 1948
Base E Journal

An overcast morning turned later in the afternoon to quite heavy snow which was melting almost as soon as it fell. Most people at Base were busy in one way or another doing local work or writing reports. In the evening the Americans were showing a film to which everyone with the exception of Thomson went. The sea ice is definitely showing signs of breaking up and from Base one can now see bergs moving up the coast beyond Neny.

#StoningtonDiaries

26 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

Our small Island of Stonington, named after the city of Stonington Connecticut USA is home to very few birds or mammals. In fact, to date we have only 4 pairs of Southern skua’s, 4 pairs of Antarctic terns, 6 humans, the occasional Weddell/ crabeater seal and Adelie Penguins that call Stonington home. However, in Neny Fjord minke whales, Wilson pertels and blue eyed shags pass by paying no attention to us as they search for food. Of all the wildlife, the terns are the most mischievous filling their day by dive bombing the skuas and nights buy chattering outside our tents like juvenile teenage kids until the early hours. Now some 2 weeks after our arrival we have all become familiar with one another and our path through the fresh snow has a distinct bend away from the rocky areas that are home to the birds but the terns still like to watch who’s around.

27 January 1948
Base E Journal

It snowed almost continuously all day but the temperature caused it to thaw. Jones got the motor boat running after its overhaul and we hope to get it in the water in the next few days. More signs of activity as far as making out reports in concerned.

#StoningtonDiaries

27 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

It's Saturday and everybody is looking forward to a day off tomorrow but before that, we have had an office day. Al, Michael and Geoff have been writing reports on the completed emergency repairs so far, along with recommendations for future conservation repairs. After completing the rope access for Monday's roof works Toby has been preparing food plans and I have been writing up my survey on the flooring in the Main Hut.

The afternoon's work was accompanied by a variety of music from Geoff's laptop with the favourite being the 'Blues Brothers' soundtrack. A few dance moves from Jo and Michael also snuck out. We are all now preparing for Saturday night Movie Night. Showing tonight: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We're not quite sure what Toby is looking at in this shot.....

28 January 1948
Base E Journal

Another busy day around Base, most of the party have been freeing the motor boat from the ice and getting it ready for launching. Tonkin and jones have been preparing to make a slipway for the motor boat out of the three 64 ft. timbers. Reports getting completed steadily.

#StoningtonDiaries

28 January 2018
Base E Conservation Team

We are fortunate that the British Antarctic Survey station of Rothera which is about 80 miles to the NE, pass on a weather forecast every other day. They have been accurate in their assessment of what we will get to date and they proved successful for us as once more with the warning of a change being imminent. We are now being battered by the wind. Our tents last night felt the brunt of the storm keeping some of us awake and it has continued relentlessly all day cooping the team in their tents. The gust does occasionally tilt towards 50knts but are steady at 20-25knts. We all wonder when the notorious “fumigator” coming off the NE glacier at 100 plus knts will hit us but until then we are now hunkering down in the weatherhaven tent wrapped up warm ready for another night of gales, it does make life all the more exciting here!

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

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