Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Welcome | Paul | Mike | Martin 1 | Martin 2

Martin from Antarctica. Winter 2000-2001

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.

Sygny 2000


Phew!! Dec 2001


Penguin colony 2000


Who are you?


28th October 2001

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.


30th October 2001

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.
Best regards

5th November 2001

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.
Take care


10th November 2001

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.

16th November 2001

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 is jric@south.nerc-bas.ac.uk. We have work to do so better go.
Speak again soon,
Martin and Paul

20th November 2001

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 )

27th November 2001

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

2nd December 2001

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

4th December 2001

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.

12th December 2001

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

20th December 2001

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 !!
Best wishes,

31st December 2001

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!!!!!!!

15th January 2002

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

11th January 2002

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,

20th February 2002

Just to let you know I'm heading home and will be back around the 8th March. Please address E-mails to my MHB@pcmail@nerc-bas.ac.uk after the 28th Feb
Many thanks for writing to me down here and see you all soon