King Edward Point Diary – July 2006

31 July, 2006

Well once again it’s my distinct pleasure to say a big and third hello to all you dedicated, passionate readers of the KEP News Letter. It’s also a pensive hello, as this is to be my last KEP News Letter in my current contract. I’ll be heading for home along with seven others this summer, after handing over to a new team in November.

So perhaps it’s a time for reflection, with the majority of us having been here for twenty months. We’ve lived through ‘The Great Storm of 2005’ and ‘The great Quest Roll 2005’. We’ve also had ‘The Great Tsunami Scare of 2006’ – which with Quest at sea at the time was worrying for all! These are to name a few and we’ve risen to these challenges and prevailed in a manner befitting us.

July has been an action packed, roller coaster ride for the SG Islanders and without further delay here’s what’s happened.

Holiday for Government Officer Emma and Geni Mech Steve

Emma and Steve finished June and started July with a trip to the Barff, staying at Sorling. They were dropped off on the 30th June on a fine, calm, very cold afternoon. On the 1st July Emma and Steve skied from the hut to Ellerbeck, which finished with a view of the Nordenskjold Glacier. The following day they walked along the beach to the Nordenskjold, stopping for lunch at the Glacier.

Both Steve and Emma had a really good, although cold time. One morning they woke with frozen sleeping bags! They were picked up Monday 3rd July via Luna and Alert on a windy, warmer morning.

Quest ice-bound

Our research-fishing vessel Quest has been having a tough time this month. We’ve had concentrated sheet ice in the Cove, which has thickened up in times of still weather, so much so in fact that Quest was stopped en-route to the Tujuca Jetty on 4th July. The ice was between 10 and 12 inches thick! We got Quest to the old metal buoy, just off the Tujuca. However with her hull seriously flexing it was time to leave that passage for another day.

Boat training and SAR exercise for Charlotte and Ade

After months of hard work and foul weather, Charlotte and Ade have finished there boat training. This was finished off on the 5th July with an afternoon sector search off Hope Point, using Dave as our datum. All went well despite the strong South East wind and moderate sea; three sector searches were carried out with good results.

New krill observer on the block

Sigma’s first visit of the month brought in Eve James to be one of this winter’s Krill Observers. The lovely Eve, from South West Wales, was transfer to Niitaka Maru on the 10th July, while she was transhipping to the reefer Nova Friesia off Hope Point.

With Eve going onto Niitaka, it was time for Jamie (Dr Watts) to come off. Assistant Scientist Jamie had stepped into the breech as an Observer until Eve arrived and had two weeks aboard this krill trawler. Jamie passed on a couple of pictures from his trip, trawling 20 miles off shore.

Eve had to leave the seas of South Georgia unexpectedly, towards the end of July. We wish Eve the very best for the future and hope she makes it back down to our shores next year.

Bad weather

From the 10th to 15th July we had sustained poor weather – North West gales for five days, with snow. This stopped us fishing and pretty much confined all to base for the duration. A feeling of cabin fever was starting to set in as the week wore on, with no sign of a let up. You might think a week of poor weather to be nothing, especially if you’re at Halley! However for the KEPers who are used to the outdoors and sunlight at this time of year, this week of going nowhere and being stuck inside was hard to bear. The weather finally broke on Sunday morning and on Monday fishing resumed.

Fame and fortune for Mr Bingley and Mr Darcey

Being at an Applied Fisheries Research Station, we like to keep in touch with the fishing industry back in the UK and world wide for that matter. One publication that makes it onto the table for smoko, for a frank exchange of views, is ‘Fishing News’. After my Dad and Grandad have read them back home, my Granny sends them down, along with some chocolate, and we’re able to debate changes in the industry and associated legislation over a cuppa.

We have often looked at ‘Photo of the week’ and thought we ought to send one in. After all we’re in a remote place steeped in maritime history, doing research fishing. So with that in mind I sent a photo in of Quest, on the slip, following a refit we did over mid winter and it won photo of the week! Mr Bingley (Will Reid) is pictured aboard Quest, getting her ready to be launched. I got a mention for sending in the picture, so there’s the fame, not really any fortune, but it’s a start!

Winter photo

With the sun having returned to King Edward Point and with Government Officer Emma due to leave us, it was time to do the traditional winter photo. This year it was taken on the point, near Phoenix on the Tuesday 18th July.

GO Emma leaves for leave

On 19th July, Sigma, after a tough Patrol in the ravages of the Southern Ocean came back in to collect Emma, one of our hard working Government Officers to return her to the Falklands for a flight home. Emma (who’s CB handle is ‘Broccoli’) has been with us since late November 2005 and will be missed by all, especially Steve. Emma made it safely back to the UK and will have four months leave before coming south again for another eight months.

Dinner at Grytviken

During the winter we tend not to get out much in the evenings. The summer months are filled with invites to cruise ships and various yachts. So when an invitation is received for a meal somewhere different, it is always very welcome. Tim and Pauline Carr had everyone over during July for an evening meal. Miss Dean, Miss Sarah, Miss Charlotte, Mr Bingley and myself (Mr Darcey) skied over to Grytviken on 20th July on a cold windy evening. We had an extremely pleasant evening with Tim and Pauline and the food, as always, was fantastic. Our evening was cut slightly short with a phone call for Charlotte – medical advice required on board a Long Liner. It had been a superb evening enjoyed by all.

Medical matters

As I said in ‘Dinner at Grytviken’, our evening was cut slight short due to a Long Liner – Argos Georgia, needing medical advice from our Doc, Charlotte. One of the crew was in need of medical assistance 60 miles off shore. The Long Liner slowly made her way in to KEP in poor weather, arriving in Cumberland Bay late morning. Due to the condition of the casualty and poor weather it was decided not to do a transfer at sea, so the Argos Georgia came all the way in and alongside. Charlotte, assisted by Martony, went aboard to assess the casualty and make him ready to come off the vessel and up to the surgery. He was then pulked up to the surgery for examination and treatment. Argos Georgia stayed alongside for the afternoon, leaving late afternoon when the patient was ready to be transferred back.

Campers corner

Despite the poor weather experienced this month, there have been a couple of camping trips squeezed in for KEP extreme and elite campers.

On the 23rd July Will and Charlotte skied up to Glacier Col and spent the night there, returning the next day.

On 25th July Ali, Sarah and Charlotte were dropped off on the Greene Peninsula for a two night camping trip. After unpacking their gear, the hard-core campers skied to Dartmouth Point in the fresh South Easterly wind. The following day they skied to the Harker Glacier. Ali, Sarah and Charlotte were picked up on the 27th July on a fine sunny morning.

The month ended with another spell of atrocious weather and another visit from Fishery Patrol Vessel Sigma. Sigma came alongside on 31st July, in a blizzard.

Well that was July folks, compiled into five pages of A4 with a few pictures thrown in for good measure. Look out for August’s News Letter for more tales from the relentless KEP team. Chief Scientist Sarah Clarke is putting quill to parchment for that one, so don’t miss it! I’ll end by saying hello to my folks back home and the Filey Lifeboat Crew; see you at the end of the year!

Mr Rick Darcey