King Edward Point Diary – July 2009

31 July, 2009

So July started off with myself getting another year older and yet again spending it away from home. I received some great gifts from the gang here. Thanks guys and to the folks back home for sending presents and cards.

Jon and I decided to escape over to the Greene Peninsula for a spot of camping, skiing and a well-earned break after the events of a busy Midwinter.

There is a small hut a short distance from the beach, which the Army erected many years ago. It now serves us for shelter, storage and somewhere to cook our meals while we sleep in a tent.

As the snow was so good (it may all look white buts it consistency can vary massively) it was possible to “skin up” from the front door of the hut up to a good height on one of the many hills on offer. Though we have to be careful due to the risk of avalanches. So based on our experience and what has been taught to us by our Base Commander who is also a Field Assistant in the summer, we are able to decide what is safe and what isn’t.

Skinning up means attaching lengths of man-made material to the bottom of the skis. These give grip so it is possible to walk/ski uphill but not slide back downhill. Having climbed as far as we could go it was time to take in the lovely views, have a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Then it’s skins off and back downhill all the way to the hut again. As Jon put it “this is the way to ski, no messing about, straight to the front door”.

We enjoyed 3 great days of skiing up various hillsides, breath taking views, great grub, plenty of games of Crib, plenty to drink and many interesting conversations. Cheers mate.

I am employed as the Facilities Technician here at KEP and along with Richy the Electrician we are responsible for keeping the base and services running at all times (well we try our best!!).

Our electricity either comes from 2 Volvo diesel generators that are capable of producing 129Kw each. Or from the recently completed Hydro plant capable of producing 230Kw.

To keep everybody warm and so we can shower there are 2 diesel fired boilers each capable of producing 110kw of heat. They are working pretty much flat 24 hours a day. If anything were to happen to these, things would end up pretty cold and miserable. Luckily enough for me they run with hardly any problems and just require routine maintenance and cleaning.

Our drinking water comes from the snow that melts out and rain that runs through the hillsides and into a stream at Bore Valley up behind Grytviken. Here there is a dam with a chamber to the side, where it is then forced into a pipe. The pipe then carries the water for about 2kms underground from Grytviken before it reaches the main building on base. Here it is filtered and then stored in a tank which can hold up to 3000 litres and is continually circulated over a UV lamp so that is totally sterizilised before it reaches the tap at our sinks.

A fire on base would cause major disruptions. So as part of Richys electrical duties he is responsible for making sure that the fire detection/suppressions systems are working throughout the base. Regular weekly testing is carried out to highlight any faults and make sure the systems are always working correctly.

When I first said to some of my friends that I was going to be living on a Sub-antarctic Island, they imagined that we would all be sleeping in little huts. Well believe me it is far form anything like that here. We really live a life of luxury here.

Our accommodation has everything we need to survive in comfort. A fully equipped kitchen where everybody takes turns in which to cook and which some very tasty meals come from. It has even been heard that some people eat better here then when they’re at home.

There is a bar area where we all come together and enjoy marathon games of darts and socialise after a day out and about. It also doubles up as our cinema. With a big screen and projector we all get together on Wednesdays and Sundays and enjoy a film chose by whoever is on cook that day. There can be some very interesting choices at times. You know when a good choice has been made as everyone stays to the end. It’s not unusual to loose half the audience by the end of the film.

Our rooms are all en-suite and sometimes have to share when the base is busier with more people about. There are enough beds to sleep nearly 40 people throughout the base.

A rare visitor also turned up to Grytviken during July. He stayed around for a couple of weeks giving most of the people on base the chance of their first sighting of a Weddell Seal.

Well I hope that you enjoyed a quick insight to what goes on here at KEP and some of the work “The Techies” have to deal with. There is always something to fix and if its going to break then most of time it will go wrong at night or early on a Sunday morning. Still the work is challenging and there is nowhere else we would be able to get the chance to work and live in such beautiful surroundings.

I would just finally like to say a big hello to everybody at home, Mum & Dad, all the family, the New Zealand side, the Marston crew, the Lincoln posse and most importantly Helen. I miss and love you loads honey and can’t wait to be with you in Shoreham at the end of the year.