Factory Cove on Signy Island was a lovely sheltered anchorage – well at least as long as the wind stayed in the west, so initially, despite the wind we had a settled time there. For Christmas dinner we had Falkland Islands lamb, roast potatoes and brussel sprouts along with a fruit sauce (red berries rather than cranberries). Pudding was chocolate mousse with Christmas cookies. The Tecla staff gave us a Christmas present of a penguin as well.
It was nice to have a lie in on Boxing Day and not be on watch and early in the morning the British Antarctic Survey staff at the base radioed us and invited us to come ashore and see the base. So, all kitted up and bio-secured, we headed ashore for a wet dinghy ride. Ashore we headed in to have a look at the base. There were four staff there – a medic (seconded from the army) and three research staff and they had been there a few weeks, having been dropped off by HMS Protector. They were expecting three further researchers in a few weeks – post-doc researchers doing some specific research on mosses and lichens.
They told us where we could walk without having any impact on the sensitive plant life or penguins and so after a coffee and a chat we headed to the northern part of the bay and went for a walk round the hills there – spectacular views and walking. As soon as we got out of the dinghy there were two Adelie penguins and the next hazards were elephant seals. These ones were on a different level to the ones we had seen at Grytviken and elsewhere on South Georgia. These ones were massive – huge layers of blubber wobbled around as they moved, though they didn’t like to overdo things and mainly just lay around. Occasionally there would be a bit of a confrontation between them, but they would quickly decide that that constituted too much effort and would move back to studiously doing nothing, occasionally opening their eyes to look at us as if to say – ‘we’re watching you …’.
We got back to the boat for a late lunch and enjoyed Irish coffees before dinner followed by a Glenlivet with glacial ice – thousands of years old ……