I boarded the Royal Research Ship Bransfield in Southampton on a mild but wet 21st October 1977 at 10.15 with my kit.
Reporting for duty I had to Sign Ships Articles.
At 14.40 we made ready to slip and proceed out into the Solent en-rout to Mayport, Florida, USA.
At last I was going South. After a few days in Florida site seeing we left Mayport after taking on American Personnel and cargo for the
American base Palmer Station on Anvers Island, about forty Miles North of Faraday.
Next it was into the Caribean, destination Colon & The Panama Canal. The canal is definately one of the wonders of the modern world.
As we passed Balbao and under the Bridge of the Americas we were looking at the blue waters of the Pacific.
We arrived in Valparaiso Chile. Now the normal route South was Mayport in Florida, Montevideo in Uruguay, Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, Antarctica. We left Valparaiso with a pilot on board as we were going into the Gulf of Ancud, and on down the Straights of Magellan, and Beagle Passage. This was a very interesting part of the voyage, we traded with local Indians for fresh crab, and watched the snow line getting lower each day on the Andes. We eventually came out into the Southern Ocean right next to the Island of Cape Horn. The following morning we awoke to exited shouts of Ice, Ice. So here we are in the ice at last, and everybody is excited with camera's going in all directions. We worked our way down to Palmer Station at Anvers Island where we met fast ice.
The Research Vessel Hero was held in the ice and anchored to it. We then proceeded to break our way in over-night. The mood on board was settled as we watched the American cargo being loaded onto the little R. V. Hero to go alongside. Then it was off South again, down the most spectacular pass I have ever been through, The Lemaire Channel better known as Kodak Crack amongst the FIDS. Out into French Passage past Peterman Island where I saw the refuge hut that Dr David Lewis had described as solid looking in his book Ice Bird on his solo circumnavigation of Antarctica. Next thing it was Faraday, so this is it, a collection of wooden huts on a rocky outcrop [Marina Point] on Galindez Island. I never saw the outgoing party at all. Twenty-five tons of cargo had to be landed, and lugged up hill by hand, this took all hands from FIDS and crew alike. There were eleven of us based at Faraday, with ten of us to winter over. My first job was building a desalination plant about 100 meters away from the main accommodation hut [Coronation House]. The pipe to carry the fresh water to the main hut crossed very un-even rocky ground, and would require supports up to three meters high in places. Also there was the problem of supporting the fresh water feed in such a way that it would not have any sags where standing water would freeze. It was an impossible task with the equipment supplied. Then there was the inlet pipe. This was from the sea into the plant house. When the sea ice started it just broke the pipe constantly with ice movement & tide etc. A good idea if it had been planned well. As it was it was a waste of time. Water is a premium in Antarctica as there is only a limited amount of melt water available in the spring. During winter it takes 6 man-hours to cut and melt enough ice for one day. Faraday was all timber huts that had withstood the ravages of 21 Antarctic winters, and was in serious need of replacement. The base is the oldest permanently occupied base in Antarctica and has been manned since 7 Jan 1947, then at Wordie House on Winter Island, that still is to be seen in the panorama. Then transferred to Galindez island. The station complex was transferred to the Ukraine on 6 Feb. 1996 and renamed Verdansky. It was occupied continuously for a total of 49 years and 31 days by FIDS and BAS, the longest continuous occupation of any British station to date.
Jéróme & Sally Poncet arrived in January 1978 and stayed at Faraday for a few weeks before proceeding south to Marguerite Bay where they wintered over.
Damien II was the first occupied yacht to winter over in Antarctica.
Icebird sailed by Dr David Lewis was hauled ashore at Palmer Station in 1973 after being dismasted. Lewis had attempted to be the first solo voyage to circumnavigate Antarctica, stopping just once at Argy (Faraday). The pack ice was too much in Penola strait so he proceeded to Palmer Station, making fasr alongside Jacques Cousteau's oceanographic ship Calypso. Lewis returned the following year to repair her and sailed out.