Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Port Lockroy and Almirante Brown Base

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I have been continually overwhelmed with amazement and joy on this trip. The icebergs all around us are breathtaking. Watching the penguins is just pure joy. We were surrounded by mountains covered in snow. This is such an incredible experience.

Our first landing today was Port Lockroy.  You can see some of our group already there as we approached it in the PolarCirkel boat.

We are approaching Port Lockroy.

In Morten’s photo you can see the MS FRAM in the background.

A view of the base at Port Lockroy.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – mortenhilmer.com Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Here is a little history of Port Lockroy.

  • It is one of the few sheltered harbors with a secure anchorage around the Antarctic Peninsula and had an important role in Antarctic history.
  • It was discovered on February 19, 1904 by Jean-Baptiste Charcot during the French Antarctic Expedition of 1903-05 and was named after the French politician, Edouard Lockroy.
  •  Goudier Island, on which the British base stands, was named after the chief engineer of the expedition’s ship, Français. 
    • After wintering father south at Booth Island, Français hit a rock and came to Port Lockroy for repairs.
  • Four years later Chaarcot returned on his second expedition.
    • This expedition carried out the first scientific work at Port Lockroy and made a hydrographic survey of the bay.
    • Charcot’s reports of whales were of great interest to the Norwegian whalers based at Deception Island.
  • From 1911 floating factory ships operated from the shelter of Port Lockroy.
  • In 12 years of operation 3146 whales were processed in Port Lockroy.

One of the volunteers  (there are 7) from Port Lockroy came onto our ship this morning to tell us about Base A.

  • Great Britain first established the base in 1944 to keep an eye on enemy shipping and to destroy old fuel dumps.
  • The base station was closed in 1962.
    • After the base was abandoned after it fell into disrepair
  • In 1994 the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust, on behalf of the British government, carried out a conservation survey of abandoned British bases in the Antarctic Peninsula region.
  • Subsequently, at the XIX Treaty Consultative Meeting, Port Lockroy was designated as an Historic site and Monument No. 61 because of its importance as the only surviving base of the wartime Operation Tabarin.

Port Lockroy base is now a museum that recreates accurately the conditions in which men lived and worked on a British Antarctic base in the 1950s.

The kitchen coal stove.  There was also an old hot water tank in the room.

This is the kitchen at Port Lockroy

The Nissen hut erected in 2010 replaced the one that was built in 1944.  It is used for accommodation and storage.

The Nissan hut on Port Lockroy.

The equipment and supplies found at Port Lockroy were recovered from other abandoned British bases and all of them have been cataloged.

Tools from abandoned bases are at Port Lockroy.

Original food stored at Port Lockroy.

Here are a couple of the paintings that are on the walls where the men slept.

Bunk bed at Port Lockroy

Painting on wall of bunk at Port Lockroy

These are paintings on the walls of Port Lockroy.

Photographed by Heidi Krause © all rights reserved.

  • The volunteers stay there for about 4 months in spring and summer.
  • They run the store, take care of the museum, run the post office, and monitor the penguins.
  • The operation is financed by the gift shop and post office.
  • The volunteers want to make sure that their presence doesn’t have a negative impact on the penguins.
  • During the tourist season ships drop off water.
  • When the ships can’t get through, they melt glacier snow.
  • Base A was the first permanent base and people live there throughout the winter.

Some of us  went shopping in the store.

We shopped at Port Lockroy

Photo by Susan Dietderich

I mailed postcards from the base. They may arrive by spring. First the go by boat to the Falkland Island. From there they are flown to Great Britain where they are sorted and then finally sent to their destination.

In the afternoon Ann and I had the opportunity to go kayaking in Paradise Bay. To do that we had to give up exploring the Argentine Base called Brown. They took us to land on Sanavirón Peninsula to get on and off the Kayaks.  So it was our fist time to actually step on the continent of Antarctica. Up to this point we have only been on the surrounding islands.

The Kayak trip was absolutely beyond any words I can use to express. My only regret is that I was discouraged from taking my camera because of getting the neoprene gloves on and off, but that was a huge, huge mistake. The weather was absolutely perfect so I didn’t need the gloves. Ann had her iPhone 5 with her. I used it to take photos and the wonderful staff on our ship transferred the photos to a memory stick that I bought in the ship store. The staff on this ship are so helpful and accommodating.

Back to the kayak trip. It took a lot of energy just to put on all of the clothing equipment that we had to wear.

Here is the list they showed us at our kayak briefing meeting of what we had to wear.

This is what we had to wear for kayaking.

Here are Ann and I (standing on the actual continent of Antarctica) all dressed and ready to kayak.

Ann is ready to Kayak.

Nancy is ready to Kayak

The morning kayakers had a lot of wavy water and were very cold. Our water was like glass. We were kayaking right next to icebergs

We were kayaking near icebergs

…and going right through floating ice with spectacular views of the mountains.

Kayaking through the ice.

Although I don’t have a photo, penguins were swimming right near us. Weddell Seals were resting on icebergs.

Fur Seals on the ice as we kayak.

At one point the front of our Kayak was right up on an small iceberg and we had to back off.

We had to back off of an iceberg

We heard the loud booms as Avalanches were letting go. There were several booms but we couldn’t see them. Then finally we saw the snow crashing down the side of one mountain. Amazing! Hours and hours  and hours after our Kayaking,  I was still floating above the ground in wonder.

Oh yes, I received another certificate.

Here is my kayaking certificate.

Since we stayed out so long on the kayaks and Ann and I had to get back to the ship for a birthday party for Joni, we didn’t have time to visit Brown Base. But I thought I would just record some info about the base. Brown Base is located on the mainland ne’er Skontrop Cove in Paradise Habour. It was named for William Brown, an Irish Immigrant who became a national hero in Argentina and is known as the father of the Argentine Navy. In 1984 the station’s Doctor went slightly mad and burned the base down. All seven members of the base were subsequently rescued by the American research vessel, Polar Duke.

The Argentinians sent down a crew every summer to rebuild base but, as many other Argentine bases, it has even closed in recent years.

Even though we weren’t there, Morten took a couple of photos.

This is Base Brown in Antarctica.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – mortenhilmer.com Copyright © Morten Hilmer

This is Base Brown in Antarctica.

Photographed by Morten Hilmer – mortenhilmer.com Copyright © Morten Hilmer

Many of  our Portland friends did go to Base Brown.  Some of them hiked up a steep snow-covered hill and were able to slide down a steep hill.  We could see them (like ants) at the top of the hill from the Kayak.

The people look like ants on the top of the hill.

That is where I think Andy took these photos of Sylvia, John and himself.

These are my friends in Antarctica.

Taken by Andy Golay

 

These are my friends in Antarctica.

Photo taken by Andy Golay

We reserved a table for some of our group for Joni’s Birthday Party.  The staff made a cake for her and sang for her.

We celebrated Joni's Birthday.

Joni blew out the candle.

We are staying right in Paradise Harbor tonight because they don’t know if will be possible to get through Lemaire Channel in the morning.

As I was sitting by a window writing this blog, a Humpback Whale just dove down I and I saw the whole tail. We are surrounded by mountains.

At 22:00 there was a Q & A with the Captain, hotel Manager, Chef, and Chief Engineer in the Panorama Lounge on Deck 7.

I think we only have 2 days left to go ashore before we head back up Drake Passage.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

4 thoughts on “Port Lockroy and Almirante Brown Base

  1. Amazing adventures! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to photos when you arrive home.

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  2. Hi Nancy! What wonderful adventures you take. You are a role model for me! I am enjoying your posts and your description makes it feel like we are right there! Thanks for sharing cousin and can’t wait to see the photos! – Patty and Jeff

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  3. Hearing of your experiences is just mesmerizing, Nancy. I look forward to seeing your photos, even the ones taken by the phone. I used several photos from my iPhone in my iMovie of the Outback of Australia. With good light they are usually pretty good. Cheers!

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  4. Sounds amazing!

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