Antarctica bound

By Alpkit>

Bethan Davies is en-route to James Ross Island, Antarctica. We managed to pick up some faint signals as she disappeared further South…

17 Jan 2011.

Please find enclosed a brief blog entry for the website. It will be brief as I’m only just warding off sea sickness and the internet connection is pretty rubbish!

It’s a 22 hour flight from the RAF base Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands. We checked in to our flight at 2 am, and arrived in the Falklands at midnight the next evening (3 am our time!). So we were all pretty exhausted and glad to find our bunks on the RRS Ernest Shackleton.

We then waited for our GA to arrive from Chile, but he was held up by the riots. For a while we thought we would have to leave without him but he managed to catch a flight in the knick of time, and is now on board. What a relief!

We set sail at 6 am this morning, and all got up to watch the boat leaving dock. We were priviledged to be allowed up on the Bridge this morning, and had a chat with the captain about how the boat works and what all the controls do. In two days we reach Signy Island, South Orkney Isles, where we’ve been promised a guided tour of penguins (weather and time permitting!). Once we’ve deployed those scientists and kit, it’s another 2 days sailing to James Ross Island. It feels very close now and we’re all looking forward to getting started! We’re all suffering a little from sea-sickness though. So I might end this now, and go back up on deck…

All the best,


20 Jan 2011.

Today we reached the Antarctic Peninsula and are cruising through icebergs around Andersson Island. There are some fabulous view! We have seen icebergs and seals, icebergs and penguins (all combinations), icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Every now and then there is a thump as we hit one! We are being deployed 8 am tomorrow morning so this will be my last email.

The ship is extra clean as I have been polishing the ‘bulkheads’ (interior walls to you and me!) and they are spotless. Russell runs a tight ship! I keep getting in to trouble for calling it a boat.

There are two chefs and as part of my duties this morning I helped in the kitchen, which was fun, as the head chef (Mick) is pretty cool. The food is excellent, loads of it, and pretty good quality when you consider that we’re in the middle of the southern ocean. There’s three hot meals a day and sweets after lunch and dinner, plus cakes and fruit generally available, so you have to be careful not to eat too much, as it’s difficult to get lots of exercise on the boat! Tea and coffee on tap. of course. The ship is pretty comfortable and well equiped. I’m going to miss having my own large cabin and ensuite!

Anyway, I’m going back to the Bridge to see icebergs (the captain very patiently puts up with us scientists running from one side of the bridge to the other in a highly excited fashion). It really feels like we’re some kind of early Antarctic explorer. Or, failing that, cosmonauts navigating an asteroid belt. It’s a bit disconcerting when we hit one, but the chief mate is aiming for them!

Best wishes,


find out more about what Bethan will be doing down there in Antarctica

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