I feel like writing about yachts rather than ships this week. But the Bark Europa and the Navy don't count. All offer a very different take on receiving visitors here and I find these smaller groups refreshing in allowing more time for conversation. Some, mostly French, are on a mission to scale neighbouring mountain peaks and it is always with a pinch of envy that we see them make tracks up and down untouched snow. Others are kayaking and camping around the peninsula and one this week was a family of four travelling around the world together, multiple times.
First established by Charcot in 1904, the anchorage at Port Lockroy is renowned for shelter at the foot of the glacier so it was an unusual sight to see a yacht, Petit Prince, creep in to drop anchor just out of walking distance from the boatshed. We hope their anchors don't plough through the whale bones that are enjoyed by those that dive here. I have really enjoyed their visits and particular thanks goes to Florence for being able to speak so much French.
The Argentinian Navy also called on us this week. Florence and I welcomed them whilst Kath was working hard ferrying buckets of water about and they laughed when we told them that the only man on base was inside, baking bread. Their ship, Castillo, was built in the same year as the base but it is yet to be turned into a musuem! It was wonderful to see another example of Antarctica transcending politics with lots of them buying souvenirs and swapping patches with us. When the base was operational, the tradition was an exchange of territorial protest notes before drinking tea together; the protest notes have gone, but little appears to have changed at Lockroy. There was one enquiry as to the route their mail will take but I said it 'goes to Britain' and nothing more was said.
Ben made the UK news with a great article in the Yorkshire Post! Only one minor exaggeration that he was living with three 'strangers' but conversation over drinks on the rocks this cemented the feeling that we have become a close knit team and we are all enjoying living together-or so I think!
The halfway point was marked by a regular visit from Fram whose Expedition staff joined us in the Nissen for tea but this time they left three people behind. Anna, Tudor and Michael were on route to Detaille, another historic site managed by the Trust. It was good to hear of their plans and thanks to National Geographic, they have reached their island safely, no mean feat having waited two seasons for the weather to allow it.
The thundering of the glaciers has been staggering and the island is dwarfed by the sound. Leopard seals lurking about are a more frequent sight now and tiny penguin chicks continue to emerge everyday. Funny to think this is my penultimate blog but we intend to make the most of all that is yet to come.
Love from Lockroy,
Flo and the team.
PS We have finished decorating and re-equipping the base leaders office!