Port Lockroy Blogs

21 Dec 2014: Summer Time

We have had another busy week at Port Lockroy, Cargo delivery on Monday nightwith lots of ship visits and two cargo deliveries. ‘Fram’ delivered 250 boxes of merchandise for the shop on Monday night, so we were up until 1.30am sorting and storing boxes in the boatshed. We also had a visit and another delivery from HMS Protector on Saturday, which means that all the cargo deliveries for the season are done. We have restocked the shop with all the things we were low on and are now set for the rest of the season! We had good weather and convenient tides for both deliveries meaning most cargo was dropped very close to the boatshed making our lives much easier. We had it pretty easy compared to the first men working here in the 40’s who had to carry huge heavy items such as large Lister generators and tonnes of coal up to Bransfield House via Heartbreak Hill from Chains Landing.

It was named Heartbreaker HillNG Explorer anchored amazingly close to the Chains landing because of the feeling when one of the boxes of cargo got dropped and fell into the sea. They soon realised there were easier routes to Bransfield House and Heartbreak Hill was rarely used again! All our boxes weighed less than 20kg, thanks to careful packing from the team in the UK.

The weather has been quite variable this week
and winds from the south and west have brought a lot of brash ice into the bay. This has made life especially difficult for zodiac drivers who have to negotiate a way through without breaking their propellers. To ease this pressure, one ship came to within about 15 metres of Goudier Island and used a line of zodiacs to prevent ice blocking the route between the ship and the island – very impressive to see a large ship looming above the landing!

Luckily the ice comes and goes, Pioneer our first chickso isn’t causing too much havoc for our visitors. We have been very fortunate to have two stunningly beautiful days of weather. On Friday we were too hot in just t-shirts! It reminded us of a photo of the men working here in the 1950’s, sitting on the roof, topless, drinking tea. I originally thought that it must be a staged photograph, but it seems that it really can be that hot in Antarctica! It even inspired my second swim in the sea, but the water temperature is definitely not warmer than last time! Port Lockroy originally carried out meteorological research to help whaling ships by providing weather forecasts (scientific work on the Peninsula was largely funded by tax from whale oil). However, it was later discovered that Port Lockroy actually has its own microclimate, so weather here is often better than weather elsewhere on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Therefore, in depth weather observations Repainting the facia board of Bransfield House in the sunshinewere stopped in 1952. Nowadays, we do not carry out any research here, but we do rough weather and sea state observations every day. We have many artefacts for meteorological recordings such as an anemometer, barometer, hydrograph, wooden whirling psychrometer and a sunshine recorder, which attracts a lot of interest from visitors.

Other very exciting news is that the first chick of the season hatched today (21st of December)! It’s really cute, cheeping underneath its proud parents and waving its skinny neck around. We’ve decided to call it Pioneer, as we first spotted it during a visit from the ship, Polar Pioneer, and it seemed fitting for the first little vulnerable chick in a harsh environment.

In between ship visits we have also had time for some more painting and other maintenance jobs as well as some festive fun. We have decorated the Nissen hut with straw stars, gold baubles and a felt Christmas tree advent calendar. I have discovered that ghee is a great substitute for butter while making pastry for mince pies which we ate with mulled wine, so we are definitely starting to feel festive, despite 24 hour light.

It’s the summer solstice today, Christmas photo with the Navyso the sun will only set for a couple of hours. Hope you all have a great Christmas!


Amy w