The week started with a visit from Kate Cullen, the Great Niece of Sir Raymond Priestley, who recognised her Great Uncle on a photograph with Prince Philip in the lounge of Bransfield House. What a small world! Later that afternoon Cat, Kath, Ylva and Claire waved goodbye to Michael and Rachel as they started their journey south to Wordie House on Polar Pioneer. They are off to do some much needed restoration on the hut and were joined on their journey by four Ukrainian scientists who were being dropped off at the nearby Vernadsky science base. Thank you to Polar Pioneer who managed to find the only free spot to launch a zodiac and drop everyone, and their equipment, off. However, they still had to walk 1km to reach the base where they received a great welcome from the rest of the team at Vernadsky, especially as Rachel was the first woman they had seen for eight months!
Meanwhile, we dug out the Christmas decoration box and made the shop look as festive as possible whilst singing carols fairly off key! We took the opportunity to get ahead on jobs such as bagging the stamp sheetlets in anticipation of the busy few days ahead. Also, Claire was lucky enough to make a brief call home on the satellite phone to wish her Mum Happy Birthday. After an excellent dinner cooked by Cat we went outside to watch the waves and spotted a Minke whale only 100 metres off Chains Landing! And then we had our first sighting of a pair of Adelie penguins who looked rather confused walking amongst the local Gentoo population!
After a snowy night, which made the island look very clean indeed, we were delighted to hear that the British Antarctic Survey ship, the James Clark Ross, wanted to visit us and despite the high winds and rain they made it ashore. It was fantastic to meet the staff and show current scientists how their predecessors lived and worked just sixty years ago. We were spoilt with tales of the penguins on Bird Island and were even delivered a beautifully cooked loaf of fresh bread amongst other goodies.
Later the same day we had a visit from Fram who brought with them an extra temporary member to our team at Port Lockroy – Kim Crosbie from IAATO. She was to stay with us to observe and help improve our operation however she was in for a shock because we got her working straight away! Kim was a great sport helping out in the museum during ship visits, preparing the path and even getting stuck into the cleaning duties the team share.
Kim had chosen a great but very busy week to be at Port Lockroy. On 14 December, the centenery of Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole, we welcomed passengers from L'Austral, Ushuaia and National Geographic. In the evening Cat and Kath then went on board Ushuaia to help eat a giant Norweigian flag cake (thanks for bringing us back some cake too, it was delicious!), and the whole team toasted Amundsen's acheivement with a small nip of traditional Norwegian Aquavit outside (in the spirit of the old explorers of course!)
Across the next few days we had visits from Ocean Nova, Bremen, Expedition and Antarctic Dream. This kept us very busy cancelling all the mail, restocking the shop and cleaning the museum. The whole team also hauled the metal and wood waste from the workshop roof re-build, using the half-Nansen sledge down to the Boatshed. It is now ready for HMS Protector to kindly collect at the beginning of next year, and is well contained and covered with white tarpaulin weighed down with snow.
Cat and Kath had a very early start on Thursday after drawing the winning straws for a day trip along the Lemaire Channel kindly offered by Susan Adie and the Captain of Expedition. They were lucky enough to land at Port Charcot and even saw a couple of Orcas when on a zodiac cruise. But, Ylva, Claire and Kim didn't think they'd get their two extra team members back, after the wind speed increased and the snow started coming down very heavily in the evening. Thanks to the experienced zodiac drivers of Expedition they made it back safely and the whole team were reunited once more.
On Saturday evening Silver Explorer were anchored in the bay ready for their visit on Sunday morning and they invited the whole team on board for dinner. We all enjoyed chatting to passengers from all over the world, and even got to have a well-earned (and much-needed) shower!