British biscuits for British bases.
12 November 2013 | 64 49.7'S:063 29.8'W, Half a mile from Port Lockroy
Being British, and currently residing at a British Antarctic base, lets first address the important matter of talking about the weather. Today, the sun is out again, great for filming, but unfortunately it is not one of the perfectly still Antarctic days we relish, and a light NE force 4 is interfering with Ruth's sound equipment. Pesky wind. On the boat we're not complaining though, force 4 is an improvement on last night, which it must be said was rather blustery. With the breeze dead on the nose Pelagic spent the night tacking on the spot. The Skipper's dulcet snoring was accompanied by the sporadic dull thud, and a slight rig shake, as the bow of the boat nudged the ice on one side, and then the other. We'd played with our lines before bed, but only managed to slow the process, not stop it completely, so we just had to put up with the noise. The skipper's dulcet snoring was rather reassuring though, as we all agreed that there was no need to worry until the thud became l oud enough to wake him. Our icy mooring boulders seem to be holding, for now at least. We're hoping we might get another day or two out of them before the pack ice blows out of the back bay and we can tie onto the fast ice. We shall see.
The reason I mention that we are in fact at a British base is that there was a near diplomatic incident last night, when the Welsh Dragon was to be seen flying proudly from the Lockroy flagpole, hoisted by our mischievous token Welshman, Tudor. In order to defend the honour of Queen and Country I equipped the gang with tea and Jaffa cakes and they have headed back today to hoist the Union Jack, as it should be. Tudor tells me that its tradition that the youngest person has to hoist the flag, which was about the most exciting thing to have happened to me, but unfortunately with the temperatures soaring as high as 5 degrees today, it was deemed sensible that both of us stay with the boat, in case one of our mooring icebergs decides to make a break for freedom and we have to make a quick exit. Shame.
As consolation for not being chief-flag-hoister, for the first time today we have had penguins swimming right up to the boat. The algal boom hasn't kicked off and the melt water isn't really flowing yet so visibility through the water is like nothing I have ever seen. Poor Dave has decided that today is the day he is going for a swim, as the line to pull the rudder up was one of the surprisingly few breakages we had on our way over. Even in a dry suit and with the sun out I don't much envy him. The kettle is already on and the Refleks is turned up high.
As a final bit of news, now that there is a bit of clear water around us, we have just fired up the water maker. Anyone who knows about Skip Novak's philosophy on keeping technology to a minimum might be surprised to hear talk of water makers but this is an ingenious, low-tech, zero-maintenance model, known as the Ice-water-butt2000. Simple to run, you simply hack off a bit of glacial ice as it floats past (its important to check it is glacial, and not salty sea ice) plop it into the Ice-water-butt2000 which is sitting on top of the engine box in the saloon and wait for it to melt. It may look like a 200L garden water butt bought from the garden centre in Stanley, but don't let that fool you. As an added bonus, in the evening there is also a ready supply of ice for gin and tonics without ever having to go outside. Marvellous