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Rothera Diary — December 2011

Cargo and Christmas were the main features of December at Rothera. The arrival of the BAS ship RRS James Clark Ross turned the base into an even busier place than normal. Along with the rest of the 2012 wintering team and a load more scientists and staff destined for other bases, the ship delivered our year’s supply of food, spares parts, new equipment, fuel, a complete new building, science equipment and a pile of other gear to keep the base and the science running for the year.

RRS James Clark Ross at Rothera Wharf (Photo: George Lemann)
RRS James Clark Ross at Rothera Wharf (Photo: George Lemann)

The entire base was mobilised into teams to get the ship moored, unloaded and back loaded with our outgoing cargo in a couple of days. It was a pretty slick operation and all the cargo was distributed to its various sections around base by the wharf and vehicle teams then the vital stuff was immediately unpacked. The food stores had an army of people unpacking boxes, stacking shelves and clearing out all the packaging for recycling. There was a long line of willing helpers to chain all the frozen food into the freezers as quickly as possible.

It was great to host the ship’s crew and the visiting BAS staff, some of whom enjoyed our show crevasse, some skiing and boarding on the slopes and walking around the point to see elephant seals, weddel seals, crabeater seals and adelie penguins.

The next occasion was Christmas and, surprisingly enough, we had a white one. At least on Christmas Eve we had a good bit of snow which topped up our ski slopes and made for a fun Christmas Day before our magnificent feast in the evening prepared by our super chefs. We also had a quiz where I was surprised to learn that the largest snowflake ever recorded was around 40 centimetres! You wouldn’t need many of those to top up the slopes.

Not your average camping trip! (Photo: George Lemann)
Not your average camping trip! (Photo: George Lemann)

Personally, I headed out to Fossil Bluff, one of our field depots about 240 miles south of Rothera on New Year’s Eve and we had an evening radio sched where all the field parties were on air. So it was really nice to hear the news from further south and to hear everyone in good cheer and getting on well with their scientific field work.

Back at Rothera the band put on another gig in the garage to help usher in the New Year. No fireworks here as it is still daylight so you wouldn’t see them so plenty of good natured banter instead.

Happy New Year to all from Rothera.

George Lemann
Rothera Base Assistant