October - The End of Winter
The End of Winter by Jamie Fletcher
Well, it’s almost the end of winter and a very busy time both for work and socially. I have asked several of my colleagues to write parts of this diary to give you different perspectives of the last month and hopefully explain what new challenge’s they will undertake in the coming summer season!
The month began with a briefing - due to some regulatory difficulties with the planes, their arrival would be delayed. This would mean not only no fresh food and mail from home but it will also affect the science field programme.
Fire and Rescue Exercise
Every few months here on base we have a training exercise to hone our new found skills in fire fighting and first aid in the hope we shall never have to use them for real. This month Lowri the doctor and Richard Logan arranged a mock fire with Richard and I playing the roles of the injured casualties. Lowri was masterful with the false blood and make up giving Richard a broken leg and me serious burns, (thanks to Richard Hall for supplying the makeup Hmmm!)
A room in one of the empty buildings was filled with smoke and then the fire alarm set off. We waited only 2 minutes after the alarm was sounded before Mark Maltby arrived with a fire extinguisher to check on the alarm. He quickly called for more help.
The casualties were rushed to the surgery where Jade and Mike had set up for their arrival. The doctor quickly assessed the patients and 2 teams attended to the injured.
Happily both casualties made a full recovery, aided by tea and biscuits.
Keep it secret, Keep it safe!
This month also saw the annual Rothera film festival, organised by Kirk with help from Agnieszka and Riet. The Dining room was set out so that everyone could watch the films between the courses of a lengthy and delicious meal. All the films were made by the wintering team and the quality was fantastic.
After several months of relentless rehearsal the “Band” also known as 9 Songs made their debut on the Rothera social calendar. The venue was the sledge store loft. The group consisted of lead guitar +singer Mat Richardson, bass guitar and sax Tom Spreyer and finally Riet on drums and second guitar.There was a mixture of several songs written by Mat and a few old favourites from the base jukebox . Several of the crowd attempted to lend a hand in singing the old favorites thank you! Agnieska, Lowri I think!?
The First Visitors
On the 18th we welcomed 2 groups of visitors to base 3 non-flying and 8 flying ones. The non-flying ones were 3 Emperor penguins spotted by Tom Vintner and as always they got the VIP press treatment.
The other visitors were 2 aircraft from Kenn Borek, flying to the American base at the South Pole. They stopped to refuel and make some alterations to the aircraft before carrying on. They were greeted by all on base not only because it was the first real contact with the outside world for 7 months but they had also brought FRESH food.
Antarctica is possibly the most beautiful place on earth - the emotive surroundings are amazing and so most on base try to capture the vast beauty on camera. Because of the large number of excellent subjects we have the annual photo contest, not for the glory more so all on base get to see the photos that have shaped and inspired your, our winter!
Agnieszka organized the judging and everybody got a chance to vote. There were 4 categories, including best wildlife picture, people and general plus of course the scenery.
The overall winner was Jade’s picture of the Sun’s halo.
Mark Maltby won the wildlife section with his emperor picture.
On the 24th we found out that we should expect some more visitors when another 4 planes from Kenn Borek would be stopping off on their way to various bases around Antarctica. For everybody on base this meant a lot more hours work to prepare the base. The runway had to have the snow removed again!
The bedrooms needed airing and new linen. Mike and the met team had to work from 6 am until late at night to update weather reports. All the GA’s got involved in moving fuel to the skiway in case the Borek aircraft landed on there, lights had to be checked and fire cover maintained. Everybody on base assisted without exception to ensure the arrival went smoothly and on the 29th it did, and with them they brought more fresh food hmmmm!
Well, at the end of every season the base needs a spring clean and this season has been no exception as the snow clearing has started in earnest. The walls have been wiped and floors mopped all ready for the summer staff. Kai (the plumber) has reopened the empty buildings, Mike(Comms manager) has fixed the radios and Mark(the carpenter) is making the finishing touches to the Bonner Lab, so now we are ready for the planes and the busy season ahead. I will now pass you on to some of my friends on base to explain what they have in store for the coming season and explain some of the science that goes on here on base and in the field.
To all my friends and family at home, especially my wife Joanne who has been so supportive of me and has taken care of our beautiful children while I have been here in Antarctica and hopefully cut the grass! That I love you all very much and can’t wait to see you all soon all my love Jamie (Daddy)
Greetings from Bernard
Hi, I’m Bernard the “boating officer” here at Rothera. My duties are to provide boating facilities for the marine and terrestrial scientists. This also includes the diving activities and of course recreational boating when schedules permit. I am also a diver so I’m very lucky to get to dive in this hostile but pristine part of the planet. The underwater life is phenomenal when it is not vulnerable to “ice scouring” or in other words where the ice doesn’t scrape along the bottom, the sessile life is very abundant, colourful and truly amazing. A photographer’s paradise!
There is a saying that “a boat is like a marriage” they both need constant love and attention, and, as you can imagine, with four RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) and two non-rigid inflatables here, the routine maintenance is an ongoing affair. There are eighteen engines to keep me busy and also very important to us all, safe when we are out and about on the sea.
Speaking of sea. Presently it appears to be on the horizon, approaching and receding in tantalizing regularity, and in between there is sea ice up to a metre thick. So as you may gather, no boating at present, and this will remain so until the ice leaves us and that welcome blue sea laps against the wharf once more. I am not alone in my wishful thinking, as boating is an essential element in many of the scientific activities here and of course, not forgetting the opportunity to take photos amongst the icebergs, of seals, penguins and lots of other fascinating things that make working and living here such a special experience.
Thank you for reading our web diary. Without you reading there would be no point in writing.
Beaker Stuff by Mark Maltby
Hi to friends & family back home, see you all in April.