Monday 5th March
We awoke this morning to a howling gale and the sound of snow being hurled against the tent. So we turned over and went back to sleep. By 8.30, the wind began to lessen, so we ventured out to our Alpkit tent for breakfast. As the jerry cans had frozen even more overnight, getting the water boiled was a major undertaking!
We had our sked (scheduled radio broadcast) with Rothera around 9.30, and spoke to the ship afterwards. By this time, the weather had calmed enough that we were ready to go out and work for the day. Unfortunately, the ship’s Captain had received another weather forecast and satellite image of the sea ice. It seemed that the gales the night before had blown more ice north, and we were in imminent danger of becoming trapped on James Ross Island. We were to be ready to be uplifted by 5 pm. Knowing that we had only a few hours of precious fieldwork left, we set off immediately to complete our sampling. Cheese left after lunch to begin striking camp whilst the scientists (or ‘beakers’) continued to work.
Mike finds a good rock…
At 4 pm we returned to camp to take down the tents and pack our kit away. We worked hard during our 3.5 days of fieldwork and achieved a lot, but we were all bitterly disappointed to be going home after such a short season.
By 7 pm, we were showered and eating dinner in the mess on board the ship. As soon as we were aboard, the ship began to sail for Frijtdof Channel, and was immediately forced to begin ice breaking. The next 24 hours were very difficult for our excellent crew, as they were forced to break ice through the night. We were immensely grateful that they had allowed us the extra half day’s work ashore, as we knew how difficult ice breaking at night was. By the time we were eating dinner, the ship was jolting and creaking as it broke ice.
Tuesday 6th March
On board the ship
The ship reached safer environs overnight, and now set sail for Greenwich Island, South Shetland Islands. A base visit is planned, along with some important engine repair work. We are set to return to base on the 14th of March, and should be home by the 17th. En route, there is a planned stop to the Chilean Base Prat, Greenwich Island.
Wednesday 7th March
Base Prat, Greenwich Island
Today we were entertained by the Chileans when the ship’s company visited Base Prat. This entertainment comprised a football tournament (decisively won by the Chileans), a BBQ, tours, dinner, wine…
Mike and I received a personal tour from one of the sergeants, which included the small Gentoo colony on the island. I have now seen King, Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap and Magellenic penguins during my two seasons – my mission to see them all is gathering pace!
And finally a couple of nice shots of the Heksa tentat basecamp from Iain Rudkin.