Friday, December 16, 2005

Signy Island

On our way down to Halley we stop off at a few other bases to deliver supplies, collect rubbish, or pick up and drop off people. The first of these was Signy Island, in the South Orkneys. We arrived in the evening, but anchored up a little way out as we were not due ashore until the next day. Having been breaking through sea ice most of the day there was much speculation as to whether we'd get onto the base, but the bay seemed very clear. Up early to go ashore, we were taken a few at a time in one of the ship's outboard ribs. It was quite strange to see the ship disappearing, but the scenery was quite spectacular. There were some large bergs in the bay, and as we skirted these we could see the base coming into view. It's strange to suddenly see a collection of large green sheds in the middle of a remote and very wintry scene.

Welcome to Signy

Having been welcomed ashore by Steve the Base Commander, we were free to have a look around. One of the guys invited me to come and see the 'pets'. We strolled round the front of the main building to be confronted by a dozen elephant seals lounging about making loud belching noises. Never again will I complain about smelly dogs, these things are incredibly pungent, I wouldn't fancy having one in the house. They seemed fairly unconcerned by us though. I suppose any argument between a human and a 1 ton seal is a foregone conclusion, and after all they were there first. Exploring the base didn't take long so I lent a hand digging out some old pipe that was encased in snow and ice. Apparently shovelling snow is something you soon get used to when working for BAS.....

Signy Base

After lunch there was a walk organised, so a bunch of us hiked up the hill behind the bay to explore. The view from the top was breathtaking, with the base way down below, the ship out at anchor, and some stunning scenery over the other side of the water. We explored quite a way, seeing plenty more elephant seals, and the odd fur seal and a few penguins. It's all starting to look very antarctic now, and everywhere we looked the view was better than before.

Out for a stroll

Ship at anchor

Next day we were due to go ashore again but the sea ice had come into the bay very quickly so it was decided we'd better be on our way. Next stop King Edward Point on South Georgia.


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