So, the Port Lockroy team 2016-17 have finally arrived and installed ourselves on base!
Leaving the UK on the 3rd Nov the team – Adele, Lucy, Hannelore and I – arrived in Ushuaia on the 4th. We had a few days to enjoy Ushuaia and get some final bits and pieces organised. We were able to buy any final supplies we thought we might need and we also picked up our BGAN satellite transceiver, essential for our communications from Port Lockroy.
We enjoyed a lovely steak dinner in Ushuaia one evening before splitting into two groups for our journey south. Hannelore and I waved off Lucy and Adele on the Ocean Endeavour and we had one more day in Ushuaia before we ourselves boarded our ship, the Akademik Ioffe. It was strange separating our wee team, as we’d been enjoying our time together, getting to know one another more, and preparing for the season ahead.
The initial plan was that Adele and Lucy would arrive on Goudier Island on the 12th Nov and Hannelore and I the following day. The ice had other plans however! Adele and Lucy had quite an adventure. Ocean Endeavour was unable to land at Port Lockroy due to the ice conditions and therefore they swapped ships, onto National Geographic Orion. They made it to Goudier Island on the 13th Nov after the Orion team assisted navigating the fast ice in the back bay.
As the first arrivals they had many important tasks to carry out, in particular ensuring there was a good fresh water supply. Due to the ice, the zodiacs could not land as usual in the bay, so Adele had to use ropes and haul 20L jerry cans over the snow banks that were lining the shore.
In the meantime, Hannelore and I were waiting to see how our ship, Akademik Ioffe would fare in the ice conditions. Our planned arrival of the 13th was delayed until the 16th when the Akademik expedition team, also walked us across the fast ice and we were all finally together in our new home for the next few months!
We are all so grateful to the teams on the ships who helped us, not only for fantastic voyages south but also, for all their help in difficult conditions, to ensure we all made it here.
We had a busy time catching up with everything that Adele and Lucy had done since they’d arrived at Port Lockroy. They’d been really busy with snow digging, opening up and even running a ship visit. They had carved a particularly impressive, winding set of snow steps at the chains landing.
Since being reunited we’ve all been getting to know our new home. As a returning Base Leaser, Adele knows Port Lockroy well and has been helping us get our bearings. We’ve also been busy preparing for the season ahead. One of the first things we did together as a team was to raise the flag outside Bransfield House. We’ve also been preparing the museum and taking all the fantastic artefacts out of winter storage.
Our ship visit from the Expedition, was particularly exciting, as they brought us Jonathon Selby, who is staying with us for a week or so, helping set up our new till system and dealing with any other IT or technical tasks.
The ice conditions have been preventing other ships from being able to visit us, so we’ve spent the time doing various jobs around the island – digging out snow and preparing areas we need to use frequently. Lucy, as chief penguin monitor, has been getting to know all the penguin colonies, ready for counting throughout the season. Many penguins have established nests and have already laid some eggs.
Hannelore has the Post Office open and ready for business and it was exciting to empty all the post for the first time in the season. We’ve already been cancelling mail and appreciating all the beautiful stamps we have to sell. We’ve gradually got the museum set up and all the artefacts out and ready for visitors to view, and we’ve been familiarising ourselves with our new till system for the gift shop. Some basic seasonal maintenance on our generator has also been carried out and Jonathon has helped in setting up all our communications systems.
We’ve enjoyed exploring all the food stocks on base and creating tasty and exciting meals, supplemented by generous donations from the ships – including twenty avocadoes and an abundance of pears.
It’s been great, being together as a team and getting Port Lockroy ready for the season to come.