New team ready to embark on Antarctic adventure at Port Lockroy
Let’s set the scene: 4 people unknown to one another will live together on a remote and tiny island in basic living conditions, in ice-cold weather and with 1600 smelly penguins as their nearest neighbours. You may wonder how one prepares for that? In September 2012 the 4 team members chosen to work for the UKAHT came together with exactly that objective: prepare for Port Lockroy!
If you type in to Google the words ‘isolation’, ‘cold’, ‘smell’ and ‘uncomfortable living’ the search engine will recommend a site about the physiology of stress. Since that is exactly what we want to avoid we decided to have a team bonding weekend. We, being Ben, Flo, Florence and Kath, the Port Lockroy team 2012/2013.
Basic living conditions were imitated by pitching some tents in Ben’s mother’s garden. So far so good, if we don’t count the cups of coffee, tea and lovely country breakfasts in the warm and cosy cottage kitchen (where the chickens, playing the role of penguins, were jealously staring at us from the threshold).
Isolation: Yorkshire. Up to you reader to decide whether we succeeded there. Lovely area by the way, where we had a long and beautiful team hike. As for the outside temperatures, the British weather kindly co-operated. Great! We decided to celebrate this in a way not possible at Port Lockroy; BBQ and smoky bonfire. And here’s where the smell comes in. Not only had we been successful in team bonding, we had been equally successful in creating a strong team smell. We were now ready to face our 5 days training in Derbyshire!
The training is a great week where the UKAHT reveals all there is to know about running Port Lockroy in the summer season. And as small as the island might be, the operation to run it is huge. Having said that, the UKAHT is professional about it and all is well-thought through; impressive spreadsheets for food, repair materials, stores, merchandise, postal items and what have you. First aid, history, long term objectives and health and safety were equally addressed. The training week is also a moment to get to know each other; the summer team, the UKAHT team, the Trustees, experts about Port Lockroy and Antarctica, colleagues from IAATO and FCO as well as our team kit sponsor Tog 24.
From early morning till late at night we were on average 12 people discussing the currents around Goudier Island, the 1996 renovation, risk assessments, frostnip, new artefacts (we have some new 1950s records to play on the gramophone in Bransfield House!), the ships that come to visit us at Port Lockroy and so on. If all this seems a bit too serious, well, it is serious. The UKAHT and the new team want to continue the important work of conservation of Antarctic heritage and raising of awareness for this beautiful continent. Was it all serious? What do you think? Of course we had a great time and lots of fun!!
In the job advert it said that we had to be passionate about Antarctica and its history. Check! But after this week we have that as well as the knowledge and skills to operate Port Lockroy during the coming summer.
We are all very happy and ready to go south soon and to welcome all the visitors who are lucky enough to pay a visit to Port Lockroy. See you soon!!
Florence, Ben, Flo, Kath