Antarctic Poker League
20 February 2014 | 64 49.5'S:063 29.6'W, Port Lockroy
I think we might come to rue the day we taught Andrew Graham-Brown how to play poker. Since we first arrived in Antarctica in November we've played the same, particularly vindictive, card game, known as Feudal Wars. Thanks Rob Musetti for teaching us that one. But for Ruth, Andrew and Dave, it's been the same game for now almost four months. Andrew's keen and patient attempts to teach us all how to play Bridge have been met with a distinct lack of enthusiasm and we think we are now paying the price for it. There is a strong suspicion that despite claiming not to know the rules of poker, and forcing us look up the order of which hands beat which in the Encyclopaedia, this may not be the first time AGB has played poker, and may in fact have been sharking us. We should have known, given his disappointment when we insisted we play for chips and glory, and not actual money. Despite continuing to deny any previous poker experience, on this occasion Andrew walked away with the lion 's share of the roughly 100 ring pulls that acted as our chips (We knew they'd come in handy at some point).
Andrew was not the only person we taught poker to in the last week (Oh no, what have we startedÃ‰?) as half of team Lockroy are now in on the act. Saturday the 15th was the first official day off of the season for the girls at Port Lockroy. There have been previous days when no ships call, but there are always job to be done. On this occasion however, Helen declared that enough was enough, and they were going to have a day off, and with the weather being a bit grey and bleurgh, Pelagic followed suit. I felt a little bit of a fraud getting in on the day-off act, having only been back on the boat for a few days, but with Dave planning a classic Pelagic style brunch, bloody Marys and all, I decided it was best to keep shtum on this occasion. So after a leisurely start, Pelagic taxi, Ruth and Bert, made our way round to chains landing to pick up the gang. Christie and Sara took the opportunity to get better acquainted with their duvets, but for Helen and Jayne the call of toast , a rare treat for the girls, as well as Dave's famous Ã"bacon, sausage, onions, tomatoes, peppers and fried-egg-on-top tray bake' was too much.
The Chileans have a lovely saying that translates roughly as "Snow covers the poverty of a country". I can safely say that the same applies to penguin poo, snow covers that too. It had snowed pretty heavily overnight and the odd big fat snow flake still drifted down on us as we wove our way through the particularly strange looking bergs that had washed up on the landing site. It was so sheltered round the front of the Island that snow had started to settle on the sea. Goudier Island looked like a postcard.
Dave's breakfast was a feast, as ever. His bloody Mary's, I'm told, were mind-blowingly strong, and he'd like it noted that he won the poker that day. A happy skipper means a happy yacht. In the fug we'd built up inside Pelagic we spent a lovely couple of hours playing cards, listening to Hugh Laurie's blues album (which is excellent card playing music), drinking enough tea to sink a battle ship and generally not doing any work. We followed it up with a movie afternoon (Fight Club) and topped it all with a couple of rounds of racing the wind-up penguins that came in the Christmas crackers. I'm sure it was rigged, my penguin wet round in circles.
Unfortunately by the evening the big fat snow flakes had turned to drizzle, and the pristine snow that covered the penguin poo was now melting and fast turning Goudier Island into quagmire. Whilst we may not be suffering in the same way as the Somerset Levels, rain in Antarctic is truly depressing. The penguin chicks, still in their downy coats, are not equipped to deal with rain, and if a cold snap follows a wet snap, it can decimate chick numbers. A depressing thought indeed. Despite it being Saturday, I think we were all in danger of slipping into the Sunday evening blues. Luckily, for us, to brighten up our day, the bright Orange French yacht PodOrange arrived, and their invite to caipirinhas onboard the following day lifted everyone's spirits.