Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Start of Winter

The winters watch the Shak as she departs. 
In a practical sense the 10th of April marked the start of winter at Rothera this year. This was not due to significant change in the weather, or in daylight hours. It was due to the departure of the ship, the Ernest Shackleton. The Shack, as it is colloquially know, is one of the two ships operated by BAS. It had been at Rothera for a few days, unloading food and equipment, and loading cargo to be taken back to the U.K. It would also take with it about two thirds of the population of Rothera.
The departure of the ship is a significant moment in the Rothera calendar. On the morning of the 10th everybody gathered at the,wharf, and said their goodbyes. Those who were leaving slowly filed onto the ship, and those of us who were staying stood and watched. As the ship slowly eased away from the wharf and accelerated away. We stood and watched until the ship was lost from sight among the distant bergs. The moment of calm that followed. In one step the  number of people on base dropped from 65, to the 22 of us who are wintering here. It will now be October before we see any new people. For me at least it was quite a profound moment.
Bradders waves the ship off with a flare.
After a few jobs tidying up the wharf, we retired to the nearby  Bonner lab for a drink of champagne (champagne that was suppose to be to celebrate the Halley move, but events there meant it was not required there) and a chat about some of the events of the upcoming winter. There are going to be some interesting things going on this winter, including something that will be a first for British people in Antarctica. I will write about these events as they happen. 

Since the ship left the atmosphere on the station has changed significantly. Work hours have reduced, and everything seems a lot more calmer and more relaxed. There has also been a lot more time to be able to get out for recreation, as well as the opportunity to get out boating and getting some training from the doctor. However, more about that in future posts. 
Group Photo 1. I was in charge of taking a group photo. However, on this attempt, much to everybody's amusement I did not quite make it back to the group in time.

Group Photo 2, I made it this time. 

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