28 February, 2005 Rothera
February was dominated by the weather. Over 80 knot winds hit the refuelling stations of Fossil Bluff and Sky Blu. Fossil Bluff is a sturdy hut that has survived Antarctic winters since the 1960’s, so coped very well. The experience was much more tense at the more southerly Sky Blu, which consists of a couple of tents and a fibreglass mobile hut. I don’t think much sleep was had as the machines outside were hammered, solar panels and weather stations banged and the hut shook. The most incredible thing is the constant noise, which is exhausting in itself. Rothera was hit with 70 knot winds, and Sledge Bravo with 60 knot winds. This delayed the uplift of the 2 remaining field parties, Bravo and Juliet, but they were brought home at last when the weather broke. Some even got a gentle reintroduction to society with a stop at the homely Fossil Bluff hut for a while on the way back to the bright lights of Rothera.
Again we had exciting visits from the outside world, the most eagerly awaited being the visit of Polar Star with about 100 old FIDS on board. FID stands for Falkland Island Dependant, and is the old name for a British person living in British Antarctic Territory. The whole cruise had been an incredible emotional experience for the guests. One chap who had had his 21st birthday in Antarctica was now celebrating his 72nd on the night they visited Rothera. They were fascinated to see the differences in how we live now, but also how many things are still the same. Equally it was incredible for us to get a chance to speak to these pioneers of Polar living.
Now is the time in the summer season when the station starts to empty again after the bustle of summer, and friends leaving is of course a perfect excuse for a party. This was one night where the stars of the show were the Royal Signals Comms team members Lucy and Bill.
Towards the end of the month there is a real feeling of preparing for winter. All the Sledge parties are in and transfer flights from Halley complete, so there is no need for the refuelling station of Sky Blu, so a hard couple of days work is put in to close that down for winter. Only Fossil Bluff is left open now to allow for the depoting of fuel for next years field season.
Rothera is an incredibly beautiful place, and a pleasure to visit whether for just a few days or two and a half years.