Hello again from Port Lockroy and a very Happy New Year to you all! We are fast approaching the mid-point of the season and, as we start the New Year, this seems an appropriate time to express our thanks to everyone who takes the time to read the blog and send messages of encouragement and support. We really enjoy sharing our adventures and
experiences with you and wish you another happy year of blog-reading in 2014.
As I write this, it's a beautiful afternoon here on Goudier Island. The sun is shining with a warm glow from an almost cloudless sky, and the clear tops of the Fief mountains are reflected perfectly in the still waters around Jougla Point. It's not quite tshirt weather (not for a softy like me at least!) but it's definitely summer. The snow is melting quickly now with new rocks appearing every day from under the white blankets in which they spent the winter. The season is moving on from the perspective of the gentoos too, with several more chicks hatching this week. We took advantage of a rare spare couple of hours one evening to just sit on a rock and watch the adults as they brooded and fed the tiny chicks. Sometimes it's even been possible to see the chick still inside the egg, with a hole in the shell from which it hasn't yet fully emerged. And everywhere we go on the island now if we stop and listen we can hear the peeping of tiny chicks, if not quite yet the patter of tiny feet. Truly nature at its best. We've also noticed what we think and hope is a sheathbill nest under Bransfield House. The sheathbills didn't breed at all on the island last year, so we are really hoping for chicks, but we haven't got too close yet so as not to disturb them, so we don't know whether they have an egg.
It's been another busy week which has seen us welcoming two ships on most days, together with a number of yachts which have been passing through the area. We've also been busy with lots of comings and goings on base as Rachel continued her stay with us and has been rapidly working through her “to do” list and helping us with everything from merchandise queries to gash duties. Filming has continued for AGB Films too, with Andrew and Ruth working on both the BBC Natural World documentary and the childrens programme whilst Andrew's daughters Daisy and Amy are here on Pelagic.
Things have been going well on the worklists too with more progress on connecting up the radio receiver in Bransfield House. With some much-appreciated assistance from passenger Geoff from Australia (who turned out to be a radio guru), we extended the radio aerial above Bransfield House and managed to pick up a number of different stations with some degree of success. It was so lovely and evocative to have music and conversation flowing into Bransfield house, and (if you'll excuse the pun) a plan was hatched for New Year's Eve.
In between all the activity we managed to accept a kind invitation to go on board Ocean Nova with Ben and the team for a great evening of interesting lectures and good company. We also put together a reciprocal care package for Palmer Station after their lovely package to us last month. As well as a few goodies, we put in some ration packets of Biscuits Brown and Biscuits Fruit, as well as the now obligatory sachet of Tang (other powdered squash brands are available...).
New Year's Eve brought even more activity and festive greetings. Port Lockroy filled up with yachts and small motor vessels (5 at one point) and even the RRS James Clark Ross radioed us to wish us all the best as they passed by in the Neumayer channel on their way to Rothera Station. With various kind invitations to spend the evening on yachts, we kept to Plan A and invited everyone over to Base A instead. During the evening various crews and teams popped in including Richard and Martin from Hanse Explorer and the team from the yacht Dane Felicia.
We took advantage of being 3 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time in the UK to have two New Year's Eve celebrations. At 9pm PLT (Port Lockroy Time) we all went over to Bransfield House and managed to tune the radio in just in the nick of time to hear the BBC World Service transmitting the chimes of Big Ben as London welcomed the New Year. Cue lots of champagne popping and watery eyes all round as we thought of loved ones near and far and also of new years past that have been celebrated in Bransfield House since 1944. As our second midnight of the evening
rolled around a few hours later, we all went outside and up to the hightest point of the island by the anenometer tower. We had a fantastic view all around and all the yachts were out on deck too. We waved and radioed each other before taking a moment to wonder what 2014 might have in store. Definitely one to remember.
New Year's Day dawned cloudy and snowy, and the snow continued throughout the morning as we worked with Rachel to reorganise the shop and gradually adjusted to writing 2014 on everything from receipts to the visitors book. We had a real treat to start the New Year as Sea Spirit arrived for an afternoon visit. It was great to see everyone again and welcome them as our first visitors of the year. Cheli (Expedition Leader) not only invited us on board for dinner and showers but also offered us an evening cruise down the Lemaire Channel. As we have no boat on Goudier Island, it's hard to convey the excitement caused by the prospect of having a chance to actually be moving! By the time we set sail the snow of the morning had given way to a perfect calm sunny evening and, after a lovely dinner, we headed out on deck with the passengers to enjoy the cruise and look on in awe as the beauty and majesty of the Lemaire passed by. Sheer rock faces rising 100s of
metres above the water, sunny reflections in the water and a leopard seal on an ice floe. Not bad for the first day of a new year! Our thanks again to the Captain, Cheli, and everyone on board for your company and hospitality.
We also had the chance this week to welcome friend of the Trust Bob Burton and Janeen Haase from IAATO, both aboard Le Boreal. It was great to see Bob again and to be able to welcome Janeen and show her around. Thanks also to Hanseatic for some lovely chocolates and for taking mail to Stanley in the Falkland Islands for us; helping some of the thousands of postcards that are sent from Lockroy to start their journeys out into the big wide world.
The week has ended with seemingly as many goodbyes as there have been hellos. Pelagic has left for a few days to go sailing further south taking the families and film team with her, whilst Rachel has left this morning to head north and begin her journey back to the UK aboard National Geographic Explorer. We waved and waved until both vessels disappeared from sight around the corner of the Neumayer. So now it's just the four of us for a few days. Oh, and the gentoos and their chicks, and the skuas, and the sheathbills, and the shags, and the terns, and the occasional Adelie or chinstrap...what a way to start 2014!
6 Jan 2014