29 Dec 2013 - Christmas Connections

What a week! It started very much like last week with maintenance jobs but as the week progressed all the ice finally blew out of the bay and we have been working flat out to show expedition passengers and yachties around the museum once again and were also showered with lovely gifts for Christmas. And we have exciting penguin news too!

No ship visits were scheduled to come to Port Lockroy on Monday 23rd, so we spent the day doing odd jobs. We spent the morning scraping the grips on the strip of metal on the ramp up to Bransfield House - it sounds as tedious as it was, but essential to make sure no one slips on the way up to the museum! The kitchen ceiling was scrubbed, scraped and painted magnolia for historical accuracy and work was started on the radio room ceiling.Jonathan working to set up new comms kit

Monday was also Dave’s (crew on Pelagic) last day. He offered us a ride to Jougla Point to have a look at the blue- eyed shag chicks. It was a great opportunity to leave Goudier Island and rediscover the Jougla area. So much snow has melted; penguins have established their nests and shag chicks have hatched. Later in the evening we were delighted to welcome the sailing boat Elinca into the bay. Helen recognised it straight away as it often sails along the coast of Scotland. It was great to see a different vessel again as it meant the Neumayer Channel was open and we might see a few people for Christmas. The Antarctic Heritage Trust’s director Rachel Morgan and our IT specialist Jonathan Selby were due to arrive around Christmas time so it was also a relief to know the ice had cleared!

Ushuaia was our first ship visiting after one week of isolation - they also made Christmas on the yacht Pelagic special as they were bringing Elena Novak down to join Skip Novak and their children on the yacht. It also meant it was time for Dave to leave us as he sailed north on Ushuaia. We are looking forward to welcoming him back to Port Lockroy in February.

On Christmas Eve, Elinca’s jolly group of sailors invited the Lockroy team for a wonderful British Christmas meal. We were welcomed by a very tall penguin handing round cups of mulled wine, toured around the spacious sail boat and sat down for dinner - fitting 18 people in the galley was a bit tricky but all the more funny! We ended the evening with a quiz and the Gashettes of Lockroy suspiciously won by quite a few points- Thanks Elinca! We are looking forward to seeing you again next year!

Christmas gifts!

On Christmas Eve we were relieved to see National Geographic Explorer come into the bay: Rachel and Jonathan got dropped off as the ship continued its trip in the area. Jonathan was eager to get to work very quickly and was able to set up a new internet system, get it running and process all the credit card transactions we had been storing for the past month! This new system enables us to process credit card transactions in the shop directly- what a great Christmas present for the shop and museum!

Christmas Day started with a visit from Polar Pioneer in the morning – a lovely visit on a beautiful sunny day (Thank you for the books). We had a short time for lunch as we had to prepare for Corinthian's visit in the afternoon, so we had a rather unusual Christmas lunch of scrambled eggs- unusual but delicious all the same! Ruth provided the Christmas crackers - penguin themed of course! We all got a mechanical penguin and look forward to having a penguin race in the next few days. Our neighbours from Pelagic and Elinca came by and showered us with more gifts of brownies, View of the Neumayer from the NGEchocolate, oranges and tea! In the evening, National Geographic Explorer swung by to give us a second Christmas gift: a lovely dinner with chief mate Piers and a great cruise down the Peltier Channel and to the south west of Anvers Island. We saw the sun disappear behind the mountain ranges of the peninsula before heading back up the Neumayer channel. Yet a third amazing present: showers! Thank you Captain Lief, Expedition Leader Lisa and everyone that made our Christmas wonderful! We woke up the following day ready to welcome Nat Geo passengers ashore. It was another perfect summer day enjoyed by everyone. And a sad farewell to Jonathan who had accomplished his mission so it was time for him to head back home.

The end of year is approaching and we are keeping busy. Rachel and visitors from vessels: Sea Adventurer, Elinca and Dane Felicia have helped us set up the radio and whistler transmitters. By pointing the antenna towards South Africa we have been able to listen to a few English words live on the radio The Lockroy team, Ruth from AGB and Rachel (UKAHT Director) and Jonathan (IT expert!)again! One more exciting bit of news this week is that we now have one chick on the island! It was spotted by Luca Novak our young neighbour from Pelagic who has been keeping a close eye on 17 penguins at the south end of the island. It hatched on the 28th of December and has been monitored by AGB Film's crew ever since!

The Port Lockroy team decided to name our first baby ‘Innocent’ in honour of the feast of the Holy Innocents which is celebrated on its birthday.First chick of the season We are expecting the two colonies from the back of Bransfield House all the way to Innocent's nest to blossom with chicks in the next few days. Let's hope the skuas aren't as good as Luca at spotting the newborns!

New Year’s Eve is approaching very quickly but our plans are rather uncertain as no ships are scheduled to be in the bay. We have lovely neighbours though on Pelagic and Dane Felicia who we are looking forward to celebrating with.

Sarah

29 December 2013

Sarah