Port Lockroy Blog - 4th December 2011


Bransfield House with view of icebergs drifting by

This week has been characterized by some snowy weather with loads of brash ice and some large icebergs blowing towards the island some shaped like castles with deep blue caves. At a certain moment the regular chains landing was even blocked so that the alternative landing site had to be used. But no problem as we are always prepared for sudden changes here on Goudier Island. The snowy weather also created some magical moment of quietness which was also enjoyed by some kayakers off the ship.

Although we were able to enjoy some of these magical moments, loads of work was accomplished as well. Michael finished the workshop roof on Bransfield House despite the snow. Everything is watertight now and the last screws were tightened with snow falling and Michael being protected against the elements by the well-proven 'windy' (typical BAS ventile jacket).

Michael clearing the roof after the heavy snowfallRoof work in progressMichael sawing timber for the restored workshop roofView of the roof before the cladding was fitted

 Claire with help from Michael was able to mount together the Fortin barometer which had been carefully restored by Alan Carroll, one of the former base leaders of Port Lockroy. Kath also continued touching up the flaking paint on the lounge ceiling and Cat dived into the secrets of all postal items. It was difficult retrieving Rachel from the hidden corners of the boatshed where she sorted out necessary from unnecessary modern items creating more and more space. Michael replaced the spongy floor of the porch with the new timber that has been delivered. Unexpectedly, a yacht called in for a visit and as the main entrance was a big square hole, an alternative entrance through the workshop door had to be opened. Flexibility and improvisation is necessary anytime. That was proven again when Michael and Ylva were ready to glue the floor down again and the glue proved to be rubbery, refusing to flow out of the container. A little bit of heat helped and the porch is now back in its old glory but much sturdier.

Kath digging a snow trench to the anemometer tower Ylva and Michael relaying the lino flooring over repaired porch floor

The first two yachts were visiting Port Lockroy, Spirit of Sydney and Podorange. Darrel and his crew hosted amongst other climbers the grand nephew of Roald Amundsen, Jorgen, who is remembering Roald Amundsen's work beyond the south pole expedition. It was a pleasure for the Port Lockory team to be able to share the British peninsula history with Darrel, Jorge and the other very interested visitors. Other activities on base this week were dictated by the weather as well. Large sheets of plywood and corrugated iron had to be moved to different locations but we had to wait for a calm day. Furthermore preparations for the cables of the restorated anemometer and wind vane were made i.e. digging a trench into the snow and chiseling away ice blocking the access of the cable into the Nissen hut. Due to the precipitation and wind Kath and Rachel, who went over to the hut at Damoy, were able to do some inside work on the information displays. The repainting of the roof had to be postponed awaiting drier weather. The first full island count of our penguin colony was lead by Claire on 28th November. Although the amount of snow was rather little compared to last season, the total number of nests was only up by 31 nests compared to last year. In total we have 658 nests on our island with 1003 eggs amongst which a few nests with 3 eggs.

A quiet spell in the weather allows the team to move building materials Claire carrying out a penguin count of the island


One of the very frequent questions we get asked is how long does a postcard take to get from Port Lockroy to home. We found out this week that a card from Port Lockroy to the UK can be as fast as 3 weeks. But did you ever ask yourself how long a card takes from the South Pole to Port Lockroy? Now we know that it takes 1.5 months as last year's team member Liesl sent a card to us from her current location, the South Pole, which was received with lots of smiling faces. Thanks a lot and it proves that there are no borders for communication!!!!