King Edward Point Diary – November 2004

30 November, 2004

New arrivals

Where to start is the question? November has just been jam packed with events and the month has passed so quickly. We’ve had new arrivals, departures, beer festivals, birthdays, camping trips, introduced species eradication days, cruise-ships, Navy ships, parties…as well as daily life to contend with!

Firstly I want to mention my trip across to St. Andrew’s bay with Jenny Corser (outgoing Doc). After two previous attempts hampered by bad weather this one went amazingly well. On a beautiful Friday morning we were dropped off at Sorling Valley. We first had a day visiting Ocean harbour where the remains of shore-based whale blubber processing plant are found along with the wreck of the Bayard, a whalers graveyard and a steam train. To me it has an eerie feel and I think it’s haunted but maybe that is just me. The next day we walked over to St. Andrew’s where we stopped off at Hound bay for lunch watching introduced reindeer checking us out. Once at the St. Andrew’s hut we set up camp and then went to see the penguin colony, a guess would say a few hundred thousand Kings and chicks. Watching the sunset over the mountains and nearby Heaney glacier are unforgettable experiences, if you imagine watching white snow capped peaks turn to peach, then orange, then pink, then purple and red..without being under the influence!! The day after we headed back to Sorling once again having lunch at Hound bay this time watching a Skua chick being fed from it’s parents. After lunch we headed back to the hut at Sorling for a hot chocolate and feed and a well deserved rest. Thanx to Jen for organising this amazing weekend.

Next I want to mention the snow, it’s almost gone and we’ve had to conclude that the ski season has come to an end. This itself isn’t a bad thing as it means we can go running, have drinks on the veranda and service our winter equipment ready for next season.


November saw the arrival of Steve Artis – Mechanic, Alison Dean -Base Commander, Jenn Keys -Doctor, on the first call of the JCR as well as goatee sporting Andy Cope (aka The Kopester Tech services gaffer). Rik Johnson – Boat handler, Sarah Clark – Chief Scientist, Will Reid and Jamie Watts both – Marine Biologists arrived second call JCR ready for a two year stint in this amazing place. Ken and Ann (Government officer and Post mistress) arrived on Akademik Ioffe they will fill in for Pat and Sarah Lurcock over the summer season. We look forward to Ann’s cooking and Ken’s G n’T’s. The JCR arrival means one thing for Tech services: work, and lots of it as projects kick off, and spare parts and materials arrive.

The Alternator was steam cleaned and serviced whilst Steve and Bri fitted a new engine into place. To all the technos out there: its’ six half windings all megered out to infinity after cleaning. The gen-set was set up to match the new engine and has been running smoothly on-line since.

Sadly we lost Brian Beck – Mechanic for the 2004 winter, he headed out back to the west of Scotland ready to go on a snowboarding holiday with his mates, good-bye Brian and best of luck mate. Brian wrote the following:

By the time this is newsletter is on the web page I should be back in a place that down south we refer to as the real world. I spent one year and one week on South Georgia and hopefully one day I might get the chance to see this wonderful island again, even if it will only be in transit. The words that we write in these web pages every month are an attempt to let people know what it is really like down here, good as they are how can you do this place justice with words? As I left, the cruise ships were back in the southern waters again full of people who even if they only get a week here have sampled the delights of the island first hand. Despite the often-rough passages they must endure to get here I’m sure none of them are disappointed with what they experience here. We are the lucky ones who get to watch the changing seasons, the breeding season, and the pups getting bigger every time you take a stroll. We really are all tourists here in an animal kingdom, we walk with kings and watch hundreds of seals reclaim their territory in the summer months. Even in winter we get to experience something magical in the solitude, the majesty of our snow covered island, the good days are simply breath taking. Sitting down at the top of the hill behind Grytviken waiting to go back down on the snowboard on a still day with no one else around, a moment that a lifetime of work could not buy. The moods of Paget we can watch from our dining room window, an unforgiving place that we all look up to. More than all of this, if that is possible, is the team that we have had there this year and the people who have passed through. There is a real spirit about the people you meet down here, a spirit that the real world too often lacks. How could the people and the place not enchant you? We all come here knowing that some day we have to leave, but we do get the full experience, which is a real privilege. Many thanks for the people in BAS who gave me the chance to come down here. I hope I done them justice.

Brian Beck South Georgia 04

On a happy note we had the first ever South Georgia real ale festival skilfully organised by Suzi Hawkins (Marine Biologist who has been here for two years and who needs a drink!!!): Suzi writes:

On the 14th of November South Georgia’s first Real Ale festival and we suspect the furthest south real ale festival EVER was held at King Edward Point. Preparations had taken months, writing to our local breweries and organizing for Morrisons the building contractors to ship the beer down for us for first call of the JCR. Delaying the festival until November also meant there would be plenty of people to enjoy the fruits of our labours. The islands numbers had swelled to 32 and we managed to offer a total of no less than 16 different real ales. The weather was perhaps the most brilliant of the summer so far and perfect for the BBQ which was set up outside Discovery House (home to the Discovery Scientific Expeditions of the early 20th century) which homed the bar we’d fashioned out of a few empty oil drums and oddments of wood. We had beers from all over the country though I have to say that Shepherd Neame, the brewery of my hometown Faversham was best represented.

There was 100% turnout with even the assistant commissioner for South Georgia sampling a few ales. The BBQ provided the islanders with all the traditional fare including a few more local delicacies with some Falklands mutton and South Georgia Toothfish appearing on the menu. The South Georgia fisheries patrol vessel Dorada arrived on the day (claiming to know nothing of the event) and were invited to join in the fun. Despite adding Beck’s lager to the list of beers available I’m delighted to say I didn’t even open the case because everyone tried the real ale and many were apparently surprised to find out how much they liked it. It was a brilliant change from the usual bottled lagers that are the staple of Antarctic parties and a taste of home for me. I wonder if any of the “real” Antarctic bases could rise to the challenge of hosting their own real ale festivals further south. I dare say the logistics would make it 100 times more difficult to organise but perhaps worth the effort???


Rik the new boatman celebrated his 28th birthday (18th Nov) onboard JCR the day before arrival and Hamilton ‘the other’ boatman celebrated his 32nd birthday (20th Nov). Best wishes to the boatshed gang…

Land cress

….not to be confused with Mouse-eared chickweed has been invading the island for the last four years, apparently spread from a dirty workman’s boot or so they say…Pat and Sarah Lurcock led a search of the local area to find how and where it has spread so it could be marked ready for extermination by Sarah with her flamethrower style sprayer backpack.

Frin and Rich (Outgoing Chief Scientist and Marine Biologist) also had a camping trip over to the Barff peninsula where they visited Rookery Bay home to colony of Macaroni penguins and Godthul where the remains of a derelict whaling station lie on the beach and a colony of Gentoo penguins inhabit a nearby lake…

I think the only person I have yet to mention is Vicky Auld who handed over to Alison Dean as BC. We look forward to having Alison as our new boss and wish Vik best of luck at B.I., and for its residents appraisals next season….

Old for new (or is it Auld for new?) Vicky and new BC Alison out playing in the boats.

And finally just to say hello to my family especially my niece Laura and to all the punk rockers in the world…Solidarity !!!!!!!!