Claire, Cat and Michael arrived at Port Lockroy 6 days after leaving Ushuaia. We had a fantastic trip down – a huge thank you to the crew and team on M/V Expedition. The landing in the Aitcho Islands was Claire and Cat’s first meeting with penguins - chinstraps and gentoos. Michael spent almost every moment outside, using his knack of spotting every bit of wildlife. Huge tabular icebergs in Antarctic Sound, 1 mile across were an incredible and unexpected treat, with penguins hitching a lift on several. Soon, we were finally heading directly for Port Lockroy.
The three of us were outside on the top deck when we saw the little black and red buildings appear around Damoy Point. Hugely excited, we grabbed our bags and jumped into the first zodiac. We saw the rest of the team waving madly to us from the chains landing. As soon as we set foot on the rocks, Ylva had us in position to welcome the passengers of Expedition ashore. It was nice to show the visitors around the island, and discover it for ourselves at the same time!
Since then, it’s been non-stop for all of us. Ylva off painting the shelves in the ionospherics room, Claire re-stocked the shop, Cat wrestled with cases full of new stamps whilst Michael replaced the floor in the porch of Bransfield House. Rachel arrived on the 16th, and jumped straight into working in the museum.
We’ve had a few very early starts, thanks to sheathbills hurtling round on the roof of the Nissen hut and Michael hearing on Channel 16 that there were killer whales in the area. Claire has already done two penguin counts on the screen colony – we have 32 eggs in that area so far. When 95% of nests have eggs in, we will do the whole island count.
Michael and Cat went round to Damoy Hut to prepare it for the season, thanks to help from the expedition team of the Plancius. We removed the shutters, and checked the building for damp and snow damage – finding it to be in excellent condition. The only work needed this year will be for us to re-paint the roof and touch up the external paint.
Our cargo arrived on the 17th, at 10pm. The crew and expedition team of M/V Fram heroically unloaded our whole season’s supplies, shuttling zodiacs, working right through the night and the chilly wind. We eventually had all the Boatshed boxes inside, and the others tarpaulined over, and fell into our bunks around 3.30am, but were back up at 6.30am to prepare for Fram’s passengers! We sent our second mail batch out, over 1,000 letters, parcels and postcards.
The week came to an excellent close as we celebrated Cat’s 30th birthday, with iceberg ice cubes, home-made pizza and cheesecake by Ylva.
Claire and Cat