Rothera Diary — March 2012

28 March, 2012

Early March saw the departure of the last BAS planes for the season. This left 42 people on station to carry on the science, various works and to commence winterising the station.

It wasn’t quite the end of all aviation as there were still two Baslers due through from Halley. Unfortunately one had some trouble with a tail wheel in Halley. So the other came to Rothera, flew to Punta Arenas to await a spare part then came back through Rothera to Halley again. They managed to fix the problem and both planes were able to make it to Rothera the following day and headed off Northwards straight away. It was a bit of an anxious time as it was getting late in the season but all turned out OK.

For the Rothera wintering team it was time to start heading into the field on winter trips. This is for recreation but also for training as everyone on station over winter needs to be competent and confident out in the field. The trips involve linked skidoo or ski travel, climbing, skiing, crevassing, a visit to the unoccupied Chilean station at Cavajal (ex BAS station) or, if you are unlucky, spending a lot of time in a tent waiting for the weather to improve.

Four of the winterers managed to get away and were blessed with good weather so they had a great time.

Towards the end of the month we had a visit from HMS Protector, the replacement ship for HMS Endurance. They delivered some fuel to the station and spent a couple of days having some R&R around station. The HMS Protector crew, along with or own field assistants organised a winter sports day up at Vals. Plenty took part in the various events including; team obstacle man-hauling of a Nansen sledge, downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, uphill snowshoe racing and tobogganing. Despite claims to the contrary made by certain members of the Royal Navy, the Rothera team performed admirably (and often victoriously) in all events!

Around station work was still going on at the new Dutch Science Facility building in preparation for the containerised laboratories due to be delivered in April. The airfield was put to bed for the winter and the hangar started to fill up with all the machinery and equipment that won’t be needed over winter but usually lives outside. The Hangar also began hosting regular badminton matches now that the planes weren’t hogging all the space. There is quite some talent here on the badminton court.

Finally right at the end of March preparations were underway for ‘Last Call’, the last ship visit for the year by RSS Ernest Shackleton. This visit was to deliver some cargo, 3 of the new Dutch Science Facility laboratory containers, and fuel. The ship was also coming to take away our mountain of northbound cargo so all of that was moved to the wharf in readiness.

But more of that next month!

George Lemann