February 22nd, 2007

Antarctic tourism is getting to be more and more popular – and that means cruise ships. Further up the Peninsula (at Port Lockroy, for example) they can deal with two or three cruise ship visits a day. Here at Rothera we restrict ourselves to two ships a year, mostly because it’s a huge disruption to the work of the base to spend an afternoon showing tourists around.
Anyway, our first cruise ship of the season cancelled, and so our only visit was from the Hapag-Lloyd ship MS Bremen. The ship arrived on Monday afternoon and tied up at the wharf and I spent a pleasant afternoon showing the 150 passengers around the base. They all seemed to have enjoyed themselves, even though they were only on the base for two hours!

MS Bremen at the wharf

MS Bremen at the wharf


Tourists on the point
Later in the afternoon I got invited (together with a few colleagues) for dinner on board with the captain. We got a very brief tour of the ship as well. Unlike our ships, where the bridge is on the top of the superstructure and has the best view, on the Bremen the prime space is given over to the Panorama Lounge, which is a huge room with enormous windows giving a forward view. The bridge is immediately below, and is very “traditional” compared with our two ships – it has big meters and gauges everywhere and the minimum of computer wizardry. It is, however, very spacious.

Dinner on the ship was very nice indeed, consisting of about seven miniscule nouvelle cuisine courses – although we were hurried off the ship after our dessert as the captain was keen to leave the wharf before an approaching iceberg got within range.

JCR arriving

February 19th, 2007

Here’s another timelapse video showing the James Clark Ross arriving at Rothera last month – as you can see, bringing the ship alongside the wharf through the brash ice requires some complex manoeuvering!

JCR arriving

The end of the season is nigh

February 19th, 2007

In the fortnight since I last wrote there’s been a definite end-of-term feeling on base. People have completed their field projects and come back to base – some have gone back to the UK already – and the returning Field GAs have evicted the tumbleweed that was blowing down the corridors of the Sledge Store. Our two Royal Navy “air support assistants” have also left – so there’s just three of us now to handle the rapidly diminishing radio work.

elephant seal

This Elephant seal took to living outside Bransfield house for about a week!

Late last night we closed Sky Blu, leaving Fossil Bluff as the only depot open – it’ll close in about ten days’ time.
I’ve taken advantage of a slightly lighter workload to go out on a couple of weekend jollies (I’ve not had much time off at weekends this season so far) – heading out on an afternoon boat trip to Lagoon Island and also reviving my somewhat rusty skiing technique at Vals.
speeding to Lagoon
Speeding to Lagoon

skidoos at Vals

Skidoos at Vals – needed to pull you up the slope

the slope at Vals

The slope itself

In exactly a month from now a ship will be here to take me home. My arrangements have changed somewhat from what I’ve been planning for most of the winter – the RRS Ernest Shackleton will sail from Rothera on the 20th March and arrive in Stanley (in the Falklands) on the 25th or 26th. I’ll be spending two weeks in the Falklands – the first on the main island and the second on the much smaller outlying Saunders Island – before flying to Punta Arenas on Easter Saturday, 7th April. From Punta I’ll make my way north through Chile and Argentina before meeting up with the RRS James Clark Ross in Montevideo on the 8th May. Four of us from Rothera are sailing back to the UK from Monte – we should dock at an as-yet-undecided UK port on the 31st May.