Dan's Antarctic Dairy - Week Six

Sunday 6 Feb to Saturday 12 Feb
Busy week this week. Didn't go anywhere, didn't need to - there was a lot of weather and this kept me well occupied. Almost a normal week I suppose!!

After a quiet Sunday Monday was a busy day. I had to get up at the crack of dawn to try and find some good weather for an aeroplane to get away and do some aerial photography. Rather frustratingly the weather wasn't quite good enough so my early start was wasted. Of considerably more excitement was the fact that the weather here turned pretty nasty and by the evening we had strong to gale force winds and snow. Of course what I failed to consider was that if it is really windy and you are somewhere surrounded by open water snow blows away rather than settles, so my expect winter wonderland didn't materialise even though the wind and snow did.

We then got another dose of stormy weather on Wednesday night and Thursday....in fact this was the stormiest weather we'd had since I arrived. Here it was incredibly mild, so mild that we nearly had out warmest day on record as temperatures soared to about 8C. It was chucking down with rain with severe gales and gusts close to 80mph at the time though so it hardly felt mild and in fact thinking about it, it was quite a unique experience rain hitting my face hard enough to be painful in near-record high temperatures!!! Anyway, rained pretty much all day here, whilst elsewhere around the Antarctic Peninsula it was also stormy and winds gusted to 90mph at the other two places I'd visited - Fossil Bluff and Sky Blu - causing some damage there.

The weather had been pretty quite since I'd arrived here so it was nice to have some more exciting weather, and this weather is of course a reminder that summer here is on its way out. The downside is that bad weather means little of the flying work gets done and the weather this week was so bad very few flights were made so for the whole operation here it was a difficult week.

We also had a bit of fun mid-week when our comms fell out for 24-30 hours leaving us with no internet, no email and no weather charts! Luckily the problem was sorted out pretty quickly, lucky escape for me else I'd had very little info to go on to make the forecasts! Whilst comms were down it amazed me how many people asked me what the weather would be like, seemingly without thinking that if they had no comms I would also have no comms and therefore no new weather info!

We also had some visitors this week; some high ranking civil servants and government chaps were here along with the Governer of the Falklands and the Head of BAS so I got to hob nob with some posh people. I think they were pretty disappointed with the weather. Fancy coming all this way just to see it rain. They could have just gone to Manchester. Or perhaps somewhere that actually is really wet like somewhere in the Coumbian Mountains. Or Seattle. Or Seathwaite in the Lake District.

The majority of the domestic duties (eg washing up, cleaning public areas etc.) here are carried out by a team of 3 chaps from St Helena. A rota exists assigning one or two people to help them. This rota is known as the gash rota. Because I had no weather data on Thursday, and also because the weather was poor everywhere so little flying work could be done, it made sense for me to take my turn at gash on Thursday. This meant I had to help with cleaning up after meals and stuff like that. Made a change. First time I've washed up in the best part of 2 months.

Saturday we had more visitors - a cruise ship carrying lots of people who'd worked in Antarctica years ago, before they had internet and heating in rooms when Antarctica was cold and snowy as opposed to 8C and rain etc etc. To be honest listening to their tales of Antarctica I'm something of a phoney in comparison. Anything that I do isn't close to being a patch on the isolation and uncertainty of it all when they were here. I mean, these people are only a generation or two removed from the likes of Scott and Shackleton and no doubt the sense of danger must have been much greater in their mind than in present Antarctic inhabitants. And they'd have had no home comforts, no email, no internet betting, no ex-chefs from the Savoy knocking up their dinners. To keep in touch with the home front they were allowed 100 words per month which would be dictated by radio and then presumably typed up and sent out. I tell you, I bet these people are incredibly good at texting - their brevity in keeping to the point must know no bounds. Anyway, nice chap that I am I spent my morning helping the 2 chefs prepare the buffet. I did some mincing and made some sandwiches. I also cut my finger. Must remember to cut away from myself in the future.

Dan Suri, 14 February 2005. Click here to go to my home page and click  to email me.