Port Lockroy Blogs

01 February 2016 - Spectacular Sights & Neighbours

SunsetLiving in Antarctica we see some spectacular sights: none more so than the glorious fiery sunset lighting up the bay at the start of the week.

Tuesday was one of our ship-free maintenance days so Laura and I took the chance to do some conservation tasks at Damoy Hut, one of the seven historic huts along the peninsula that UKAHT look after. We loaded up a pulka sledge with snowshoes, a ladder, tools and materials and set out on the journey. MS Expedition was visiting Damoy and very kindly sent a zodiac to pick us up.

Damoy HutWe found there was a lot less snow than when we’d visited earlier in the season, which revealed some of the historic graffiti on the shoreline rocks and made the walk up to the hut very easy. Once at the hut we used the ladder to climb up into the loft to inspect the condition of the collection of tinned food artefacts stored up there. We checked each room and the exterior of the hut to make sure everything was still in place and we re-varnished the information sign before heading back home.

We’ve also been working on painting the outside of Bransfield House, which is an interesting challenge. Now Laura in the loft of Damoy Hutthat the snow has melted around the building the ground is very rocky, uneven and peppered with penguin nests. So to paint the high walls safely without disturbing the wildlife Iain invented a new tool called a paint-broosh: a combination of a broom with a paintbrush taped securely to the end. It was the perfect solution and now the building is looking shiny and new.

It’s been another busy week of ship and yacht visits, all of which have been very generous in supporting UKAHT with their visits to the museum and shop and in supporting the four of us living here. Offers of breakfast, dinner, fresh food supplies, hot showers and laundry have all been gratefully accepted. For some of the expedition staff, visiting the island is like coming home. Florence Kuyper, Stephen Skinner and Sarah Auffret have all lived and worked at Lockroy and now work as ship expedition staff. This week Skinner arrived onboard the tall ship, Bark Europa, and was straight back in the swing of showing passengers the delights of the museum.

Other news this week, our Chilean friends working at the neighbouring base, Yelcho, 5 miles away on The 'paint-broosh'Doumer Island came to visit. In the group were marine biologists who were fascinated with the museum and the studies into marine life started in 1944 by James Marr, the first expedition and base leader during Operation Tabarin.

We’re hoping that we will soon have some new feathery neighbours living on Bills Island, the tiny island next to ours that we can walk across to when the tide is out. There is a pair of Skuas nesting there, and we believe they are sitting on an egg. Perhaps by the time of the next blog we’ll be able to report the arrival of a newly hatched chick.

Talking of neighbours, we had an exciting evening on Wednesday when Rachel and Iain successfully rigged up the HF radio in the radio room of the museum. There were shrieks of delight from all four of us when we were able to talk directly with Rothera, the British Antarctic Survey’s largest research station.

We spoke with Rob Webster the comms manager who set us the challenge of knowing the meaning of his word of the day.Tarantism: do you know what it means?

The radio room is a great talking point and often sparks conversations about times past and present. At one time the base’s Skuamain modes of communication with the outside world were relaying Morse code messages to Stanley in the Falkland Islands and awaiting letters from loved ones to arrive on relief ships. Nowadays we use solar-powered satellite email and iridium satellite phone. But some things on the island haven’t changed:we still enjoy the excitement of receiving letters from friends and family when a ship brings a mailbag

Thank you to everyone who has sent a letter, a parcel, a postcard or an email, it's wonderful to hear from you all. We hope you enjoy following our story through our weekly blog.
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