Letter from Lockroy - 4 December 2010
This week's focus was definitely to "get on with it"; it being the wiring, communications system and the clearing of the snow from Bransfield House. The preparations for the wiring were slowed down for Liesl and Michael due to the Antarctic circumstances. Huge blocks of ice were discovered at the spot where the wiring had to be fed through into the house. Luckily the search and rescue vessel Lautaro could offer us some heavier tools in order to accelerate the clearing of the ice. Afterwards the wiring to connect the solar panels, the communication system and the lighting at selected spaces around the Nissen Hut progressed quickly in the patient hands of Liesl. Michael did further work on the framing and other woodwork items.
We had several nice re-visits from Fram, Ushuaia, Expedition, Antarctic Dream as well as a first visit this season of the yacht Spirit of Sydney. Everybody was so kind to us and in one way or another helped us with our daily work. Our laundry was kindly washed, some advice on medical aspects were received, we were offered a shower and dinner on board as well as some fresh supplies of water and some treats of fresh fruit and vegetables. We are very grateful for all the help and kindness that we are encountering in this unique place.
Hen used her great cooking skills to prepare some fresh walnut bread which we all loved along with baking with the cookie dough from our "neighbours" from Palmer. All of these activities were of course accompanied by some more snow digging as usual. The main aim currently is to prepare the outside walls of Bransfield House for the yearly painting job to ensure that the wood is properly protected and can resist the assaults of the Antarctic storms for another season.
The Spirit of Sydney anchored this week in our back bay and had a party of climbers on board aiming for some first time ascents on the Peninsula. They were so kind to offer Liesl and Michael a Zodiac shuttle to Damoy Hut so they could check out the state of the hut and look at the required work and tools necessary. Next to the top priority of getting the roof water tight, painting and artefact inventory will be on their action list.
For a couple of days we have now full VHF radio available instead of only the hand held one. The next milestone in our life here at Port Lockroy was the arrival of the "IT/Comms Magician" Jonathan Selby who was kindly dropped off by Expedition. Due to weather circumstances (snow is currently not coming vertically here in Antarctica but horizontally) his stay was shorter than expected. However due to his expertise and Michael and Liesl's excellent preparation work, Jonathan was able to have everything up and running in 1.5 days. This achievement together with the solar panels (we haven't had to use the generator so far) have improved the everyday life tremendously. Thanks to everybody who was involved.
Wildlife is also progressing as the season goes along. The nest and egg counting of the monitoring colony is regularly performed and we are getting close to the point of the full island count. Furthermore, chinstrap penguins and elephant seals were sighted. Following a couple of days of bad weather we were glad to have some clear blue sky again and could improve the access to our island for visitors by clearing ice away and widening the stairway in the snow. More and more rocks now appear slowly from the snow.
Hen, who is in charge of the museum this season has made first attempts of trying out the new paralloid mixtures for labelling the artefacts. Post mistress Hannele was excited when the new December issues of the postal items had to be prepared. They are truly beautiful.
Later this week we enjoyed a memorable visit of Prince Albert II who has been chartered by a Chinese travel group. We were kindly invited on board after the visit for a shower, dinner and some very nice and interesting conversations. After being back on Goudier Island in the late evening the four of us just sat in awe outside at the overwhelming sunset and were reminded of the beauty and privilege of being here.
One of the surprises that we experienced was an invitation to the Chilean base Gonzales Videla which is next to Waterboat Point, one of the sites of the British Graham Land Expedition. We had a very pleasant visit to our neighbours and are thankful to the vessel Lautaro and the base Gonzales Videla for giving us this opportunity. Since all four team members were off base that day, Nikki did a great job in streamlining the communications that day as new unexpected requests for ship visits were coming in for that evening. It is so nice to experience how the logistics all work out since everybody is collaborating here in Antarctica. What a treat!!!!!