31 July, 2003 King Edward Point
All of us at King Edward Point were shocked and saddened when we learnt of the death of Kirsty Brown at Rotherathis month. Nearly all of us had either met her at conference or on courses before heading south and knew her as a really outgoing and friendly girl with a good, loud laugh. Our hearts go out to her family and her close friends at Rothera.
On the 32nd of July I realised that it was indeed me who was writing this month’s newsletter and so I scurried off to see the Doc with my tail between my legs to ask if I could consult her diary to see what had happened this month. She testifies that what is written below is all true. (Well, most of it!!)
Toast – firstly, there seems to have been a spate of toast burning recently, which in any normal household would not be a problem but here involves running outside in the snow where frostbite very quickly sets in. The first offender was Mr (now relegated to Mrs) Gater…at four in the morning!
Well once could be forgiven but when the fire alarm went off again at eight o’clock one fine lazy morning as I was accosting myself with soapy water, I was less than amused. I ran outside clad only in a lilac T-towel (BAS issue) and we were all cursing and swearing whilst Andy and Frin went off searching for the culprit and apparently, Andy told me, steamy showers sometimes set off fire alarms. Oops!!
In the eternal quest to find more dangerous and extreme sports, which already include extreme ironing, we think we have now found the ultimate sport in Gnarly knitting. Suzi has shown a few of us both how to knit and use language that the WI would most definitely not allow in their tearooms. There are plans afoot to move this sport out into the hills and on to boats. Watch this space!
Work still goes on with the two wrecked ships, Lyn and Moresko No1. The salvage team aboard Calafate have been working extremely hard to remove as much plastic waste and netting off the vessels as possible and still manage to find time to make the finest empanadas (the Chilean version of Cornish pasties) known to man. We are very grateful for all their efforts.
Above: L-R: Two of the salvage team preparing to dive inside the wreck Lyn and some of the debris and lines escaping off Moresko No1. Click the images to enlarge them.
As the midwinter swim was postponed until July this year, we called it “the just after midwinter swim”. It took place on a pretty evil day of wind and coldness and there was general apprehension before the dip, a bit like Bruno’s dressing room before a big fight. Bravery and stupidity took over as there was a mad scramble to get in and out as fast as our little legs could carry us and then into the sauna…at a whopping 90°C. It has to be said that the water was a little less than balmy and us boys didn’t have a lot to hide afterwards for quite some time. I think that the maximum number of swimming strokes swum was five or six but there were some memorable displays with Sue’s Pooh stick impression and Howie’s “I am here but you can’t see me” sketch coming out close winners. The photo below was taken during the event. Frin was not best pleased with her portrait but, in my defence, the image was taken with a wide-angled pencil.
The 16th of July was a busy day for fisheries officer Pat and postmistress Sarah as they celebrated (!?!) fifteen years of marriage. The RAF had obviously heard about this and sent down a Hercules to waggle its wing tips at the happy couple. Of course there was then the obligatory dinner to attend!
There weren’t too many trips in July but we were able to get out a couple of times, boating and weather permitting. Pat, Snips, Frin, John, Sue, Tim and Pauline and Sid the skid(oo) made a trip up to the VHF repeater for some repair work. The communications manager tells me this has something to do with radios. Still can’t get Radio 1 down here though! The sun was a shining and the snow was icy and made for some amazing views of all the mountains and bays. After this trip Suzi and Frin went off for a two day trip to Maiviken to stay at the hut there and visit the beaches all covered in seals and penguins. As it turned out, Mother Nature had already given us our good day for the month and the weather started turning pretty nasty and they did indeed stay at the hut…and nowhere else. According to the happy campers, the wind topped 300 knots with temperatures dipping below -275°C (yeah, right!!). I can’t verify this but they did get blown over a lot on the way home and complained of cold hands!! Andy and Tim were also beaten back by the weather on a trip up into the hills. M. Nature 2 – KEP 1.
Well on the odd day that the weather was behaving we managed to get Quest out of the water to do some checks and warm up the wheelhouse with some insulation. Howie, with the help of the technical services boys, John and Andy, did a sterling job and she looked pretty fine by the time she went back in the water. So fine in fact that I couldn’t resist the chance to dance on so clean a deck. What a mover she was (Quest that is).
The science team have been very busy again this month. We finished our quarterly trammel net fishing at the beginning of July. This fishing gives us a good idea of what fish are present in the bay at different times of year and whether they are spawning or not. July saw a large catch of Notothenia coriiceps (Bullhead Notothen) that were spawning. We learn a lot about the life cycle of these fish and others this way and we also learnt that the roe of the Bullhead Notothen is right up there with monkey brains on the guaranteed to make you sick scale. We also spent some time looking through juvenile and adult fish that have been caught as a result of the krill fishery here, as well as crustaceans and anything else caught, for identification purposes. It is important to know how fisheries can impact on other species so that measures can be taken, if needed, to protect these other species. The majority of the fish caught in the krill fishery so far this year have been juvenile icefish (another commercial species) but a method to quantify the amount caught is still under development.
Most interestingly this month though was the first sighting of a polar bear in Cumberland Bay since 1978. Two male polar bears were originally introduced in the early seventies near the Stromness whaling station to “solve” the seal problem, i.e. create clear beaches so that men and ships could work easily.
Both of these bears were thought to have died some time ago but this sighting near Hodge’s Mountain confirms that at least one of the bears is still alive. They are not thought to be dangerous as they originated from Oslo zoo and their diet is thought to consist mostly of fur seals.
(So all of this diary is true eh Rich??? – Ed)
In the words of Prince Albert the Great, “That’s all folks,” and so without further ado the credits can roll. Life here is pretty different to home but day-to-day things never change. I still have trouble with the video player and I’m not sure where the dishwasher is yet. Chips still arrive on the table with more than a little grease dripping from them and the vast quantities of tea drunk here make South Georgia seem like a little England.
Hello to all my friends in England, Italy, the Bahamas and Australia and anywhere else you have gone. Hello to my family – mon pere et ma mere et mes frere et soeurs. Hope all is well at home. Buster, Bronnie and Paddy also deserve an honourable mention and a little ear tickle to boot. Hope you are well Gargie and also hello to my future wife Peta. That’s all from me,