Penguin withdrawal symptoms
16 November 2013 | 64 49.7'S:063 29.6'W, Jougla Point, Port Lockroy
Being tied into the sea ice in Port Lockroy proper was a nice change of scene for a few days, but now being a good 500m from Base A meant it wasn't long before we got penguin withdrawal symptoms. We'd become quite used to being able to glance out of the window and see their funny little waddle. In addition, the light southerly breeze kept inconveniently closing the gap behind us, meaning we couldn't always get the zodiac out and the gang had to walk ashore. The sea ice is still pretty stable, but every journey was carried out very cautiously, so it wasn't ideal. Skipper decided it was time for us to be on the move again. No complaints, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, with almost no wind at all, so it was rather nice to go for a yacht. The ice around the bow was starting to look a bit mushy so the plan was to drive forward and create enough of a space to spin around and drive out to sea again. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as mushy in places as we thought, and it became rather more of an operation to spin around that we thought. The shore party suspected that Dave might just be showing off how far he could drive his boat into the ice, for the benefit of the cruise ship passengers that had arrived. We were in fact starting to wedge ourselves between two more solid glacial bergs in amongst the sea ice, driving backwards and forward like Austin Powers driving a golf buggy in a tight corridor. Time to launch Ã"ice-breaker' zodiac. With enough clear water to drop the dinghy into actual water, rather than just onto ice, I jumped in and tried to push some ice around, before acting as a bow and stern thrusters to turn the yacht. There were occasions when this wasn't as simple as it sounds, as I kept managing to ride over some of the larger blocks, thus landing the dinghy stranded, having to use a wooden oar to push off again. Eventually Dave managed to get old Pelagic, with her turning circle similar to the QEII, pointing out to sea. As he motored off I tried desperately to ride the ice-free lane of the stern wake out behind him, with varying degrees of success. Luckily the fear of humiliation that would result in Dave having to drive the yacht back in to rescue the dinghy focused the mind somewhat, and we both made it out, T/T following Pelagic like a little duckling. So yesterday afternoon we headed round to tie in at Jougla Point now that the ice has finally emptied out of there. Good boulders to put rock strops on, which were comparatively easy to find when I was here in February with Pelagic Australis, are a little tricky to find at the moment, what with everything being buried in up to 10ft of snow. Finding rocks involved a fair amount of digging and was not made any easier by my cruise ship audience, who seemed to find a girl digging snow in Antarctica most photo-worthy. The water visibility is still outrageously good, and even though we are in 7m of water, you can pick out every pebble on the sea bed, and a few seal, whale and penguin bones as well. Dave took the opportunity to go for another swim to attach the rudder down-line this time and collect the iron stake I dropped when trying to moor up. He still can't sink, and the regulator is still freezing up after a few minutes, but at least the leak around the neck seal wasn't so bad . He makes a bit of a meal of it before getting in, but I think he's starting to enjoy it really. Filming is in full swing, with yesterday's glamour weather inspiring Andrew and Ruth to at least 14hrs of what Andrew describes a Ã"glorious filming'. After a long hard day yesterday, the weather has enforced a break today with big fat snowflakes falling from an overcast sky, giving them a chance to log all the clips from yesterday and generally recover. We've had at least two 5* clips this morning and it's not even lunch time. We're settling into a rather nice routine. If the light is Ã"right' for filming, generally one of us helps Andrew and Ruth, and the other looks after the boat. Although it is really nice to stretch the legs and get off the boat, being left behind can have its advantages as well. Yesterday I had one of the loveliest morning imaginable, taking a bit of lie in, cooking myself a massive breakfast, wondering around the boat in my pants, singing along loudly (and badly) to the stereo, playing my ukulele (also badly) on the foredeck, by this time not in my pant s. I should probably write less about these types of mornings and more about cleaning off sheathbill poo, else people will think I do no work at all. The penguins are very busy, many have built nests and are chasing each other around stealing each other's pebbles. Spring has sprung, and there is much friskiness. If you know what I mean... Tonight, if the weather stays stable, we're hoping to invite Team Lockroy round for roast lamb. Dolly needs eating and we need to thank Tudor for the brilliant pizza he cooked in the nissen hut a few days ago. First we need to make sure the dinghy stops sinking. Dave has spent the morning snapping on latex gloves, not just for his own amusement and to threaten people with rectal exams, but in order to sikaflex the valiant war wound for ice-breaker dinghy, a hole where one of the non-return drain valves used to be. There really is nothing nautical you can't fix with duct tape and sikaflex.