Party, party (and a bit of counting and buildings too)

    The night we spent anchored in the bay at Grytviken, Europa had a party. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has an important research base at King Edward Point (about a kilometer away around the bay, rather less than that in a zodiac), and some of the scientists and … Continue reading

Shackleton: leadership fit for purpose

  Sir Ernest Shackleton died in 1922 at Grytviken. He was back in the south to re-attempt the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Crossing but his heart finally failed as he stayed here preparing the expedition. He is buried in the tiny graveyard overlooking the bay, the biggest marker among the simple white … Continue reading

Whaling HQ in Antarctica: whales, steam and solar

Larsen founded Grytviken as a whaling station, the first land-based such factory in the southern hemisphere. The bay, with its rusting industry and neat white buildings, the scattered bones and indolent fur seals, is an integral part of the whaling era when the Americas, Europe and Asia depended on the … Continue reading

Alpine uplands above Maiviken

Maiviken Cove was our next stop.  We headed there only after leaving our anchor behind in the foul ground of Stromness Harbour. Heroic efforts to free it had begun at first light, although the beautiful sunrise was largely unappreciated by the hard-working crew. In the end the chain was pulled … Continue reading

Making places in Antarctica: history, science, and territories

I’ve commented before that so many human-made places in the far South are ugly buildings sitting in magnificent landscapes. We called at Esperanza station in Hope Bay, on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula: it’s a busy research base and a stamp of Argentina’s territorial claims, a scatter of red corrugated … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: H is for home

Home is where the heart is, where we hope and plan, even dream. Not-home, elsewhere, is transition, a coming or a going, a place whose future is not our business. Almost every building we’ve seen since Puerto Williams has been ugly, bases and settlements of corrugated metal, old machinery and … Continue reading