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Nov 18 - Signy opens for business

Noon Position - Lat: 60° 39.5' S Long: 046° 51.0' W
Location - 49Nm from Signy
Total Distance Travelled: 8411.4Nm from Immingham, UK
Air Temp: -3.1°C
Sea Temp: -0.7°C

James Clark Ross Tracking Map

Web cam

Signy opens for business once more.

When we left last week, we were just gearing ourselves up for the big quiz match. It was a great night all round and our congratulations have to go to the crew who won - again! The excitement continued on Monday as we encountered the first pack ice of the season, much to the excitement of many onboard. The ice came in patches and slowed us down, so that we didn't reach Signy until dusk on Tuesday evening. The ice pictures showed ice to the south of the island so we approached through Normanna Strait, which separates Signy from the larger Coronation Island. The pictures below shows the open water as we approached the islands with just a few bergs around occupied by chinstrap penguins.

Approaching Signy Island
Approaching Signy Island


Berg occupied by Chinstrap penguins.
Berg occupied by Chinstrap penguins.

However, just before we reached the station a band of fast ice (sea ice secured to the land) crossed our path. Due to the hour and the fast fading light we waited for morning before making our approach to the base. I've cheated in the picture below as this was taken this morning as we were leaving so that I could show the base in sunshine. It might be a little difficult to see in the thumbnail, but the base is the dark shapes just above the berg trapped in the fast ice. I'm sure it'll be easier to see when we return in a months time as I guess then there'll be very little ice around.

Signy Research Station, Factory Cove, Signy Island, South Orkneys
Signy Research Station, Factory Cove, Signy Island, South Orkneys

Like the other stations Signy has its own web page and diary though it is only completed when the base is manned in the summer. For further information click on these links, Signy & Signy Diary

Ever since the base became summer only in 1996 an ice camera has surveyed the bay and recorded the ice conditions automatically whether the base is manned or not. The picture below shows our arrival and the position of the JCR in the entrance to the cove. The fuel store building can be seen in the foreground.

JCR in Borge Bay off Factory Cove & Signy taken by the sea ice camera
JCR in Borge Bay off Factory Cove & Signy taken by the sea ice camera

You might be wondering how we resupply the base when the ship cannot get itself or boats to the base. Well if you look closely on the picture above you might see a clue in the tracks leading from the ship. Yes the first job of people reaching the base was to dig out the skidoos and sledges to bring all the stores ashore, whilst the technical folk started to get the power, heat and light back into the buildings.

Skidoo coming back ashore from JCR
Skidoo coming back ashore from JCR

At ship's side, things are similar to working a boat except we have to crane people onto the ice via the transfer basket as well as the stores and so it takes a little longer. The picture below shows the final stores being taken ashore.

People and stores being landed on the sea ice.
People and stores being landed on the sea ice.

People and stores being landed on the sea ice.

Naturally the arrival of a big red ship causes some interest amongst the locals and more particularly in the area of open water generated just behind the ship. On Thursday morning this area became a swimming pool for groups of the local chinstrap penguins, as they would surface at one end of the pool swim along