Martin worked for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) at the time of the millennium. His work took him to the Antarctic several times.
Martin emailed up-to-date information and pictures during his millennium trips for publication on our Web site.
He was at Sygny from October 2000 - March 2001 and from October 2001 - March 2002. He sailed on the James Clarke Ross in October 2001. Some emails from this trip are reproduced here.
Phew!! Dec 2001
Penguin colony 2000
Who are you?
All well at this end and at the moment I'm about half way to South
Georgia in very rough sea's...in fact its a force 10. Surprisingly
though I'm not so sea sick but some of the others on board have
not been seen for days. We had a good journey down and going via
Santiago, Punta and then Stanley. We did not sleep for 2 nights
so as you can imagine by the time we got to Stanley we were very
tired. We could have slept in Santiago for a few hours but went
out in town instead!! Very interesting spot and very big. Good to
see Tipper is getting ready for the off, he will get an e-mail address
when on the ship and someone will be able to show him what to do.
We will be at South G in a couple of days and have about 5 days
work to do at the 2 bases we have there, Bird Island and then Grytviken.
After the work is done we have a 5 days science cruise to do and
then we will head for Signy, so another 2 weeks on the ship.....what
fun !!!!!! Look us up at http://www.antarctica.ac.uk On the pages should be a diary section written on the JCR. See if
you can find it and let me know.
Made it to South G and the weather has calmed as we get close to
land. I will pop over and see Shackletons grave tommorrow. We will
be at South G for a couple of days.
Until the Next.
Thought I would let you know where I'm at at this moment in time.
Still on the ship and still at South Georgia. We managed to relieve
one of the bases a few days ago but the little base at the end of
the island called Bird Island is proving hard to get to because
of bad weather. We are going to wait one more day then head off
to do a science cruise for a couple of days then hopefully off to
Signy. I should see Tipper in about 20 days or so. The sea's have
been rough since we got on but I seem to have found my sea legs
and it just a case of waiting to get to SIgny. I hope that the worries
of foot and mouth are slowly passing and people are getting out
a little more. I suppose the Aussie lot are back. Better get on.
Well we have at last left the South Georgia area and are heading
to Signy Island which is at the South Orkneys. After a very rough
sea last night we have woken to a calm morning. In the area are
large icebergs and still lots of birds, Albertros, Cape pigeons
and the like. No Signs of any whales yet but its unlikely we will
see any as we have a scientific sonar on reading the sea bed and
this scares them off. The sea temp is + 2 and the depth is 4000
meters. We are running both main engines at the moment and burning
about 20 tonnes of fuel a day to try and catch up time, as we are
running a day late. We should get to signy about 21.00 tomorrow
but will have to wait until Monday to go ashore. Once I leave the
ship I will be out of contact for several days as I get the base
up and running. Just keep e-mailing the same and when we get the
Satcom and server installed we will start scheds again. Paul should
be finding the Falklands interesting. I believe they are at a spot
called Mare Harbor. Its a Navy fuel bunker and 3 hours on a bus
away from Stanley. I don't think they are going to berth in Stanley
this call. I hope he manages to get to Stanley for a look around.
I will be seeing him in about 10 days time and they will be at Signy
for 3-4 days I think.
Well that's about all for this time.
Many thanks for keeping in touch.
Just a quick one to say hi and to let you know Paul R is sat next
to me at Signy. He is having a great time and his e-mail address
We have work to do so better go.
Speak again soon,
Martin and Paul
Just a quick one as we have had some problems with our e-mail system
at this end. Everything going well here after a very hectic 10 days
since my arrival. We have just had the Shackleton in and saw Paul.
He is having a great time and looked very well. I think he will
be a changed man when he gets back to the UK. Strange seeing him
down here but I can't hog the Antarctic for myself.
Catch you again soon
Signy Base Engineer
Ice Station Signy ( well nearly )
Great to hear from you as I have had some problems with the e-mail.
Its been a very mild winter down here by the looks of it and there
is little snow on the ground this season. Paul was in good spirits
when he came through. I have attached a couple of pics. I have had
to down grade the file size so I hope they come out ok. One of Paul
and myself and the other of me up to my usual tricks keeping the
water flowing. Thanks for the reply. Enjoy the pics and the play
on Saturday...its taken long enough !!
All the best
I Have heard that the ice at Halley is very poor this year. All
the little chick's at the large Emperor Penguin colony have perished
this year. The area called N9 was a bit iffy a few years ago but
hopefully they will be able to work it. I'm sure Tipper will tell
you all about it when he gets there. Good to hear the play was good.
All well at Signy and kept very busy. The weather has been really
poor and not been able to get much of the outside work done. Today is not too bad though and the sun is out.
Pass on my regards to everyone in the pub
The ship Paul is on is adrift at the moment. He might have told
you but they are having problems with the propulsion and are floating
around in the middle of the ocean. I can see it now... Paul in the
Kings Head in few years time with Mike Beaty " when I was adrift
in the Antarctic Oceans " !!!! They will be okay and these
sort of things happen from time to time. Very wet and windy here
and my turn cooking today, Just made fruit cake and its edible !!
Better go, Best wishes.
Still very poor weather, wet and windy. Paul is stuck in the ice
and not getting much closer to Halley at the moment. I think the
season there will be an interesting one. Paul will be glad just
to be one of the troop and the bosses will have some big headache's
this year. The weather at Halley is very poor and they are behind
in the preparation for the summer.. Ah what fun !!
Catch you later, Martin
Season Greetings. Hope you have a good break over the Xmas and New
Year. Looks as though Tipper will be stuck in the ice for his Xmas.
I think the booze is flowing Okay though!!! So MERRY XMAS AND A
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. Have fun and don't eat to much Xmas pudding
Thanks to everyone for the emails. I will send some interesting
stuff your way soon. About to get drunk so must dash.
Happy New Year!!!!!!!
Its been a while since the last communication but things are getting
busier as our ship is due in at the end of the week. It still has
Tipper on it as he has not got to Halley yet. I saw him here about
7 weeks ago and now he is back again!!! All well here and the base
complement increases from 5 to 18 at the weekend...Oh what fun!!!!!
I think I will have to find a stone to hide under. All the plant is running well and so far this season we have
had no power downs..something normally common when I'm looking after
generators.. I have a habit of turning of the wrong generator after
power changeovers!! We have two main engines here. They are Cummins
6 Bt.'s. Very reliable and one set is getting to 12.000 hours, which
equals about 1/4 million miles if it was in a truck! We change our
engines at this stage as we don't keep a large stock of spares.
Its cheaper to buy a new engine at 4 grand and replace the unit
than strip down and rebuild engines. We burn about a tonne of fuel
a week compared to the ship that burns 4 tonnes a hour. Our heating
system here is the same as any domestic system we just have two
of everything, duty and standby. We run 50/50 antifreeze in the
system as through the winter the temps get down to -40. At this
time of year nobody is here so the system is left off. All the pipes,
which are plastic contract quite a bit but we never seem to get
connections popping off. Its amazing what materials will cope with
as long as you allow a bit extra here and there and keep things
well serviced!! The weather has been nice the last week or so but
today its cold and snowing. The nights are starting to close in
( reverse to you) and today is halfway through my stint South this
year ( not that I'm counting!!)
Well I will call that it. Hope you are all well and keeping warm.
Regards to all
Its been a while I suppose but I'm still alive and well. Its been
a busy few weeks here since the demolition team turned up. The base
had expanded from 5 to 17 people and the first few days were hell.
Its settled now and the work is going well. They have two large
old buildings to take down as well as a old fuel tank. One of the
building has been nearly removed but the weather is holding up the
work. By the sounds of it the weather here is the about the same
as what you lot are getting at the moment. Very wet and windy. With
the increase of people the power and water requirements have shot
up and its a full time job keeping our ageing Reverse Osmosis plant
running ( makes fresh water out of sea water ) This plant slowly
runs you into the ground as its a constant worry trying to keep
it running. We can make about 4 tonnes in a 24 hour cycle but I
think we are using about 4.2 tonnes if you get my drift.. I do have
the power to ban people from the washing machine and showers though
!!! the power of the job !! With all the work going on around the
base I cannot really get away but I believe the penguins are well
and the chicks are about to fletch from their parents. Its been
a good year for the penguins and they seem to have done well. Some
years there can be a shortage of food and the mortality rate can
be high. There seems to be less fur seals around this year...its
a good thing as well as they are nasty things. One of the Morrison
team had a chunk taken out of him the other day when he got a little
to close !! He won't do that again. I saw Tipper the other week
and I believe they have flown him to the base as the ship cannot
get there. I'm glad he has made it though and seen Halley. I will
be asking, if he has enjoyed it, to come down next year with me
as I will be at Halley next season. I will be seeing him again in
about 3 weeks. This is also when I will be leaving here and heading
home. I have to get back to start the new job and also interview
mechs for next season. I will be back North the weekend of the 22
March I hope. Tipper should be back on the 18th.
Well I hope you are both well and keeping warm.
I better dash as I have bread to make !!
Regards to all,
Just to let you know I'm heading home and will be back around the
8th March. Please address E-mails to my MHB@email@example.com
after the 28th Feb
Many thanks for writing to me down here and see you all soon