King Edward Point Diary — February 2004
February 2004 Newsletter
Sveiki....!!!!! My name is Krissi. Four months into my 3rd contract with BAS and probably the busiest one with more than my electrician's title to keep up...... Coffee maker, fitness trainer and keeping sane are all full time jobs here as well as helping out around base with cookhouse duties, gash, meetings, late shifts et cetera. Lets not forget cruise ship invites, camping trips, boating outings, hill walks, and running in a ½ marathon....
And the list goes on and on and on for an eternity!!!!!
As the base electrician I work with our mechanic Brian Beck, together we look after what is essentially a power station powering a small village doing a mixture of maintenance, repair and project work.
OK, the month kicked off with a boat trip to Coral bay to look at an old refuge hut and assess its' situation, then it was round to Dartmouth point to clear up some rubbish washed ashore from the two wrecks (see previous reports) in Cumberland bay.
With us that day was Helen Denerly an artist who specializes in sculptures made from scrap metal, a good welder, drinker and big fan of the base sauna. Hopefully she'll be back next season to sculpt a life size metal blue whale (apparently the same size as the biggest one ever caught here by the whalers in times gone by).
The boat trip was organized by Vicky our nail biting BC and fan of the sauna Peter Love the KEP boatman, cheers guys......
Of course the big event of the month was not the commissioner's visit but the first ever South G. ½ marathon organized by our quack Jenny Corser who seemed to think it was compulsory for all to take part and that it would do us good, yeah right!!!! With her inimitable style of frantic enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work she put together an event which could not be copied by anyone else anywhere in the world..... Mr Fiennes and Dr Stroud watch out!
After weeks of intensive training it was time to take it easy the week before, this coincided with the return of Rich 'Mitch' Mitchell and Suzi Hawkins two resident scientists who brought with them allsorts of funny creatures (including Martin Collins). They had been away for a month onboard the patrol vessel Dorada.
At the same time the RFA Gold Rover brought in a shoal of personnel including the commissioner for the government of SG and SSI (Howard Pearce), operations manager Gordon Liddle and Paul 'the vicar' who delivered an excellent sermon in the church across at Grytviken, I'm not religious but it was nice to be blessed, any blessing is a good blessing, and a reading of the 'Our Father' in Norwegian made it very special indeed.
A quiet time mid-month allowed people to go off base and get about the hills. I was with Martin Collins and Jenny Doctor on a three day / two night camp. We first walked to Echo pass to drop off our packs and walked up a peak simply known as 2200 (its' height in feet) for fantastic views of mountains and glaciers, then it was back to our packs to continue the hike to Harpon where we had cups of tea and wandered around the beach and nearby Lyell glacier. It was blowing a 'hooly' that night and still gusty the next day when we headed from Harpon on to Maiviken via some of the beaches and up over Boulder pass as the weather deteriorated. The night at Maiviken was calm and using ration packs I managed to put together some sort of Sardine curry. The last day was a walk to Sappho point with stunning views of iceberg filled Cumberland bay saw from Duse ridge. On the return to Maiviken we stumbled across an injured Gentoo Penguin struggling to walk. The general consensus of opinion was to bring 'him' back to base for repair. After a debate and some Latin speak he was splinted up and is now the process of recovering answering to the name of 'Jack'.
We've had to say good-bye to Ken and Ann this month, they were filling in for Pat and Sarah as Marine Officer and post mistress, Ken was a keen sailor (yachty type) and Ann was an excellent help in the kitchen...... they'll be missed for sure, although Pat and Sarah's gin and tonics are stronger...
12th of Feb saw the opening of 'Komrades' coffee shop, which will continue to open on a now and again basis... it's hard work but mochacinos, latte's and my special recipe mint chocolate coffee all went down well, and as soon as its' legal a Dutch style coffee-shop is next.
Three partially submerged wrecks from the whaling days have been raised Petrel, Diaz, and Albatross This is thanks to the guys on Luma, with support from AWG. The wrecks are a reminder of man's cruel past.
On base at present we have a guy called Steve Massam who is working at the South G museum, he has a unique job and has wrote the following:
Taxidermist visits South Georgia.
My first views of South Georgia on the 11th of January from the bridge of the Dorada could not really have been more spectacular.. We had been weaving between icebergs on the approach and then the snow caped mountains and glaciers from around Cumberland Bay loomed out of the heavy mist.. The waters were full of Fur Seals and King Penguins making their way ashore and as we anchored the mist lifted and the sun came out to welcome us.. What can I say!.... Truly spectacular..
The gang at Kep and Tim Carr were on shore to help me get all my stuff onto the key... Vicky (base commander) made sure I had everything and made arrangements for my work tools and materials to be taken around to the Museum, I was shown around the base, introduced to most everyone and taken to my accommodation, which I have to say was above all my expectations...
My first walks around the base and the surrounding area were a little apprehensive at first as I have to admit that I was a little nervous of the playful attentions of the Fur Seals, but I'm pleased to say this was short lived after getting to know the Furies better .. More scary than the Fur Seals were the thoughts of having to make Bread and put together an evening meal for all the gang when it was my turn in the rotor.... However, when my turn eventually came I found my bread making skills were more than adequate and thankfully everyone seems to enjoy a Stir-fry every now and then...
So down to work... Why am I here... Well, mostly to prepare a large 1.7 metre, 80kg Tooth fish to go on display in the Museum at Grytviken and a number of other local fish and birds including a Grey Headed Albatross to further enhance the well established and very informative natural history display already in existence.
After a brief interlude to regain my land legs and set out my work space with it's magnificent view I made a start on the first of the fish.. A Dragon Fish found on the Kep-Grytviken track by Rosy and Susie some weeks earlier... a handsome devil in spite of suffering the hungry attentions of Kelp Gulls... Soon the Dragon fish was joined by a Mackerel Ice fish, South Georgian Ice fish and a tiny Oriole..
The Toothfish was next on the list of jobs to do and with the assistance of those around me the moulding and casting of this magnificent specimen estimated to be around 50 years old was also complete.. Next on the itinerary were a number of birds.. First an Antarctic Prion, then a Blue Petrel and South Georgian Diving Petrel before moving on to the Grey-Headed Albatross a excellent specimen that was unfortunately found dead by the guys on Bird Island... This fine specimen rung on the nest some 45 years earlier must have misjudged her final landing or was court out by a freak heavy gust of wind judging from the internal injuries she sustained..
In my spare time I have been fortunate to get out and about, visiting Myviken, Ocean Harbour, Harpon Bay, St.Andrews Bay, climbed a number of the local mountains and took part in the first ever South Georgian half marathon, very professionally organized by the base doc Jenny... A day to be remembered by all who took part..
I have found that there is a good friendly social atmosphere here at base and have taken part in a number of out of work activities such as; Art School very kindly put together by Helen a visiting sculptress, Foot School organised by the girls and was pleased to be asked to give a demonstration of my own modelling skills one evening... other lessons were given in how best to prop up the bar. I'm still working on that one..
I can't believe how fast the time has slipped away, as I write my two months is coming to an end and I'm going to miss South Georgia, but more that the island itself I'm going to miss the friends I have made here... It looks very much as though I shall be commuting annually too and from the UK and the Falkland Islands for the foreseeable future and as soon as fund become available you can be sure I shall be back to South Georgia to continue my work...
Finally I would also like to take this opportunity to thank most sincerely Pauline and Tim Carr for making my visit here possible and every one in the community here for making me feel so welcome.... "I'll be back!!!"
The next piece is an account of the big race written by Jenny, it was published in the Penguin News (Falkland Islands newspaper) last week of Feb.
"The race was held on one of the most perfect days for running this season. It started out as cloud covered with a slight chill in the air and as the morning lengthened into the afternoon the sun emerged the skies cleared and it was positively warm- nothing more than shorts and t-shirts weather.
The race started at 9am but most runners were up at six, nervously filling stomachs with their preferred carbohydrate loaded breakfast, knowing what lay ahead. The trophy for first place lay on the table and there was tension in the air because no one was quite sure who would win it. The questions of fitness and experience and training were bouncing around.
It is a lovely trophy- kindly sculpted and donated by Nick Taylor - one of the AWG workers. Metal twisted into naked runner sprinting, head held high, over the letters SG ½.
And then finally all preparation over, it was the start. Gordon Liddle cut the tape that held the 35 runners back from the line, and with the respective flags from participants countries flying overhead (England, Chile, Scotland, South Africa)- we were off.
The route was severe- there is no doubt. The initially flat run to the whaling station was no indication of what was to come. The climb up to Gull Lake above Shackletons grave was pre- emptive of the torment of the ascent of Brown Mountain. Standing at 300+ metres- it is a hard walk but running it becomes a test of just how much burning thighs can stand and how much air lungs can gasp with each breath. Already the leaders were well away from the main pack of us. A group of three- Andy Whittaker (ex- marine), Richard Mitchell (BAS scientist) and Martin Collins (BAS Scientist). They were closely followed by Kris Hall (KEP electrician) and Ant Risdon (AWG) and then tailing behind them - but not by far, the first female (KEP doctor- Jenny Corser... and trying desperately to catch them - but I think I was chasing at egos- which are difficult things to catch up to!)
The view from the top of Brown Mountain stretches across the bay and from the blueness of the sea and contrasting whiteness of the ice to the green tussock - it is magnificent. If the climb doesn't take your breath away- the view will!
The descent was a roped edge that led down across tussock covered hills at the base of Brown Mountain and crossed streams that offered clear and oh so cold fluid- to be grabbed at before jumping across and tearing onwards past the fur seals that guard the graveyard, dodging elephant seals and back through whaling station to KEP.
The last leg is the bit that hurts the most and requires one to dig deep and find the determination to continue. With aching thighs another two climbs from sea level are in store- both of about 200metres and both over rough ground with rocks that deceive and twist ankles and demand not only muscle but also intense concentration.
The hut at Maiviken stands next to a large lake in an idyllic setting. The sounds of the distant fur seals pups bounce off the cliffs and echo through the valleys, and the grunts of tired runners at this final turn around point mingled with the wildlife cries. The route returns to the finish line at the research station.
Writing here and now I cannot encompass it adequately. It was monumental- this race through haven of wildlife and isolation from humanity. Not because it was a test of stamina, or endurance or even tolerance of pain.
I think that the runners realized it- some acknowledged it openly; some kept the view they had to themselves. It wasn't about the run.
That the route was tiring and steep can be seen from the description. The first climb from sea level to 300metres was testament enough- it was not easy. Legs ached, eyes teared, lungs heaved. But that was not the point.
Some things I marvel at in life- the beauty that lays tucked away, forgotten in deep pockets and when hands dig into layering it is found- reclaimed.
The race to be the first- two had been together for the better part of two hours, kicking at one another's heels. And then the final descent, still neck to neck, one tripped- rock tore into skin. The other stopped and pulled him to his feet despite the thirst for title- they finished together, neither out sprinting the other.
The last female to finish- who ran past the marshal quickly lest he see her tears and the friend who went back and ran with her as she finished.
And little Al who approached me afterwards and told me how happy he was- happy at what he proved he could do and happy because his girlfriend thinks that he's a hero. (He has no running kit- he ran in his construction site clothing and work boots.)
The factual: - 35 runners, of those 30 were novices 4 were female and 31 finished. Winner's time 1h50, first woman 2h07 (and sixth place over all). Last finisher 4h24.
First place was shared between Rich Mitchell and Andy Whittaker. The next 3 runners were- Martin Collins, Kris Hall and Ant Risdon- and then behind them (by two minutes) was me.
I pushed myself on the run until I felt like throwing up- my sides hurt my back ached Mountain - it was my childhood dream place come alive and I was in it. I ran alone, - with no voice other than my own. What does a runner think about? Everything and nothing. It's mostly subconscious.
A run is always more than just a run. It's about individuals and the spirit of the race and runner.but on it went. And locked in I have a picture of the rolling hills at the base of Brown Mountain - it was my childhood dream place come alive and I was in it. I ran alone, - with no other voice other than my own. What does a runner think about? Everything and nothing. It's mostly subconscious.
A run is always more than just a run. It's about individuals and the spirit of the race and runner."
1. Andy Whittaker/Richard Mitchell (1h50 - pictured below)
2. Martin Collins (1h55)
3. Kris Hall (2h02)
4.Ant Risdon (2h05)
5. Jenny Corser (2h07)
6.Peter Love (2h16)
7.Al Powly (2h18)
8.John Davies (2h25)
9.Rodrigo Vasque (2h27)
10. Bill Hammerton (2h28)
Kris Hall, Rosey Thomas, Martin Collins, Matt Stevens, Al Powley, Ant Risdon, Andy Whittaker, Rich Mitchell, Tim Carr, Nick Taylor, Jake Dudek, Brian Beck, Pete Love, John Davies, Nigel Blenkharn, Frin Ross, Tim Platts, Raul Vasque, Guillermo Orilivares, M Ibacache, Paul Chapman, Rodrigo Vasque, Martin Benjamen, S Salinas, Christian Perez, A Urra, Vicky Auld, Heraldo Anabalon, Bill Hammerton, Pat Lurcock, Jenny Corser, Steve Massam, R Hidalgo, Luis Bezares, Marrissio Cruz.
Ervin Enver, Pauline Carr, Dave Peck, Sarah Lurcock, Gordon Liddle, Susie Hawkins, Andy Chef.
Finally, Frin says her crabs are fine and she still loves everyone.
Rosey is enjoying punk rock band 'Me first and the gimme gimme's' and Andy W has repaired my snowboard......... What more could you ask for?
I'd like to say hello to the family, happy birthday mother for the 27th Feb, and a special mention to my little niece Laura.