31 December, 2010 King Edward Point
A busy month on base with lots of peaks being bagged, cruise ship visits, pups being born and the ex winterers leaving to get home in time for Christmas.
At the beginning of December the four Norwegian kayakers completed a circumnavigation of South Georgia in 20 days. This had only been completed twice before so we all turned out to greet them with cheers on the beach and the ‘keys’ to the sauna. That evening was the first big party of December!
We also had British Pub night with a quiz and delicious pub food. Many people made an effort with their costumes.
The beaches were heaving with fur seal pups as December 7th was peak pupping and we were introduced to helping Alastair with tagging. The first few times were quite comical as we ran around the shores of the lake at Maiviken attempting to catch a furry without being bitten. Alastair was very excited to see a Pipit (the South Georgia song bird) over at the Maiviken beaches.
As the ex winterers were leaving there was a mass exodus to the hills to finish off their ‘bucket lists’ of things they had not done here.
A few of us newbies joined in for an ascent of a 3320m mountain at the far end of the travel limits — 10 hours round trip 20.5km walking with 1750m height climb. The seven summits challenge was also taken up (14km 1700m) and completed by 5 BAS (3 ex winterers) personnel. Starting with Orca then Hodges the Petrels, Narwhal which we ‘bum’ slid down finally Brown and Duse.
We were lucky with such beautiful weather for the hiking. Richy the outgoing sparky set a new record summiting Duse and back to the museum door in an incredible 46 mins and 15 seconds he looked like he was falling down the mountain.
There was some work going on! We slipped the two jet boats which look quite large when they are pulled out and did the full checks, this will happen again in 3 months time.
We also created a SAR unit that would allow a casualty to be transported inside the cabin of the jet boat which had not before been tackled. The new SAR toboggan required a wooden platform to sit on so as not to slit the sponsons of the RIBs.
Just before the holidays the ex winterers left on the Pharos and base over night halved in numbers becoming a lot quieter before the Christmas rush. We did the normal Mexican wave as the Pharos exited the cove with their fire hoses on full — it was quite a sight.
Of course there were the holidays which are celebrated fully at KEP mostly because we have cruise ships arriving throughout the holidays — two on Christmas day and three on Christmas Eve.
The church built in 1913 needed to be decorated and as we had many fake Christmas trees we decided to have a forest of them in our bar area. On Christmas Eve we went over to the church for midnight mass followed by mulled wine and German sweets.
Rob the BC and Jon A picked up their fiddle and a bodhran for some tunes on the jetty as the cruise ship passengers disembarked back to their ship.
A family tradition of mine is to make a gingerbread house so we had fun decorating it with many sweets, some of which were of course missing by the time we demolished it on Christmas day! The cruise ships were very generous with freshies so we were able to have proper roast potatoes etc on Christmas Day itself which was much appreciated by all.
The trees were bursting with secret Santa presents showing off all the talent on base! We had a great Christmas dinner late in the day after the cruise ships had left, the dining room was absolutely packed as were our stomachs afterwards!