This is the old blog from my past stay at the Polish Antarctic Station. To get updates from the new trip, click here.
As you all know: jacaDcaps, the author of MUICON or SSHCON and parts of MorphOS like Intution is somewhat M.I.A. on the South Pole atm., but from time to time he appears all out of the sudden and sends some greets from the icy region where the penguins have their iglus.

For this very purpose we made this little site and I'm allowed to publish some of his nice pictures here.

-- tokai

jacaDcaps @ The Polish Antarctic Station, Henryk Arctowski
2005/10/01 - 2005/12/31 - "It took 40 days to get to King George Island from Poland. We left on the 1st of October, on the russian Polar Pioneer, a tourist ship specialising in Antarctic journeys. The photos are mainly from our 2 stops - one in Las Palmas, and the other in Mar del Plata - a 2 day long stay, 2 days of partying to be precise."
jacaDcaps leaving Poland Copenhagen, Denmark Las Palmas, Canary Islands Las Palmas, Canary Islands jaca trying a new hairstyle
Boobies at sea Submarine (3rd People's Summit) at Mar del Plata, Argentina Fishingboats at Mar del Plata, Argentina Mar del Plata, Argentina Mar del Plata, Argentina
Mar del Plata, Argentina Mar del Plata, Argentina Magellan penguins, near Mar del Plata, Argentina Jaca on a quad at the Ferraz station The view from a window at Arctowski
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. Description is available via 'alt' tag.
2006/01/01 - "... this place really rocks. Even though our station reminds me of a museum, the nature around us is still worth being here. We get to see penguins all the time - they walk among our buildings. There are also a lot of seals in the area, especially in the Special Site of Scientific Interrest - a huge part of land very close to us, a really beautiful place with loads of colonies, a big glacier and huge fields of mosses and grass."
3 chinstrap penguins in front of the american Copacabana a young female elephant seal lying near Copacabana the fuel tank of Arctowski, about 500m from main buildings a tiny lake with water from the melted snow, below the Sphinx hill
2006/01/07 - "There are so many things going on in here, that gets hard to decide what to write about. Just a week ago I had a great time at the Brazilian station. Two days later we got an opportunity to visit a luxurious tourist ship - Nordkapp. We had a dinner with two Chilean girls we met and then listened to them playing piano and violin. Watching Arctowski and the bay from upper decks of a huge ship circling around while listening to various music pieces was a memorable experience.

Meanwhile, the gentoo and adeli chicks are growing. It's kinda funny because there are huge differences in the age of chicks in one colony - from really small and cute to huge and looking almost like adults. The adeli chicks are losing their old feathers now and look really disgusting. Attached there's a photo of a gentoo chick fed by one of its parents."
gentoo pinguins
2006/01/18 - "Patelnia (frying pan) is a wide and mostly flat area near the entrance to our bay. During last 2 weeks we had several trips there, mainly to make GPS maps of the Windy Glacier and its morrains (while our biologists were doing transects of the area). The place is really exceptional since there's usually no sight of human impact in there, except for occasional ships passing by. All you get to hear are the wind, ocean and elephant seals.

One of our trips was a 2 days one - we had to hike to Demay, a beautiful beach around 2km from Patelnia. We have a very small and old refuge there, but since there was 5 of us, some had to sleep in a tent. Now, that was really something... Sleeping in a rhovyl shirt, polartec shirt, polar coat + 2 sleeping bags and a hat rules :)

On sunday we had 2 important visits: a ship with food supply for Copacabana came to our bay and stopped by our Station. Finally some fresh fruits and vegetables!!! I almost forgot how plums taste like ;) After the Americans left, we were visited by an Argentinian army vessel - Castillo. The ship is from 1942 and was bought by Argentinians in 1992 from the US Army. Some of us had a chance to spend a couple of minutes on board and see how a ship that served during 2nd WW looks like. Although they have radars and GPS they still use the original steering wheel to control the ship! It's a real beauty! Of course we had a great and long party with the Argentinians ;) It looks like we're running out of bear though :P"
2006/01/22 - "Sunday is usually a day of recovering after the saturday party. During the last week we had 2 namedays to celebrate. Three of our summer group members are going to leave on tuesday (well... there'll probably be a party on monday because of that anyway ;). Of course, we had to make at least one of the guys swim in the ocean, which is a tradition here.

Sunday is also a day for adventure :) When writing this blog entry I'm already back from 1 ice cave exploration - a huge hole in the moraine of the Ecology Glacier. It was made by a stream of water of melted snow and ice. The attached photo (shot by Mariusz Potocki) is from a "small" crack in the ice we found near Demay. The photo session of the new cave is scheduled for the evening...

Sunday is also a day for... coding :) I'm digging through the Cocoa's input handling now and trying to avoid rewriting the handling code for both platforms (looks like most of it will be untouched thanks to #defines;) After PowerTerm is fully functional I suppose I'll have to work on a better sh for the Mac. OSX's bash completely sucks :("
jacaDcaps in an ice cave
2006/01/30 - Polish station is the oldest one in the Admirality Bay at the moment, but that doesn't mean it was the 1st one. As a matter of fact, Great Britain had its own station here long before we came to the Antarctic.

The expedition from 1959 was a 1.5 year long one. It was one of the hardest winters in this area. The tempreratures were usually below -40, occasionally going below -50 (and for the past 20 years the min temp was -33!). Ten people lived in small, wooden buildings. Everything heated with coal, just 12 hrs of electricity per day.

I belive it is quite scary to be all alone in a place like this. But I bet it also felt good. I wonder how it would feel like to camp with a tent where our Station is today. I wonder how the seals and penguins taste like. They didn't have refrigerators, so they had to hunt to get some fresh meat. I wonder how it feels like to receive a monthly message from your family - 50 morse-coded words. I wonder how fun would crossing our bay would be when it's frozen solid...

I bet it was really painful to bury two of the teammates though. One of them fell into a crevice in the Ecology Glacier and his body was never retreived. I went to see these graves during the last visit on Ferraz - their station is where the British station used to be.

I was really lucky to be able to meet one of the members of the expedition from 1959 during the visit of Saga Rose, a tourist ship from UK. This was the 1st of 3 stops in Antarctic, just a few of the stops of the world tour they're doing.

The photo for today is a scan of a photo of the British station. It was taken in 1983 by Stasiek Banka, a member of our expedition.
2006/02/06 - Last tuesday we received a call from Subofficial Castillo, a small Argentinian Navy vessel. Two hours later we packed ourselves onto Zodiacs. Thanks to the great guys from Castillo, we were able to see the Deception Island. It took about 6 hours to get to the island, it was already dusk when we arrived, so we just anchored inside and partied through the night.

What's so special about Deception though? Well... look at the maps :) The island in reality is just a huge, active volcano. From outside it looks like a plain island, until you find a small, maybe 70m wide entrance to the inside of the volcano. The first thing you see after entering Deception is a small bay with plenty of old, wooden buildings.

These are the remains of an old whaling station built by Norwegians on 1911. It was used 'till 1931, then abandoned. In 1945 some of the buildings were adapted for a British base, they also built a hangar for an airplane. The station was used until 1967 when it had to be evacuated due to a volcanic eruption. In 1968 it was finally abandoned after another eruption which caused a massive mud-flow that demolished most of the station's buildings. Nowdays the remains are slowly fading away, torn by the winds. Yet this place has this amazing aura around it, as if these people left just yesterday... (photos)

The other tourist attraction of the Deception Island is hot water. If you look closely, you can find spots on the beach where the water gets really hot. Dig a small hole there and you can bathe in water that's about 40C hot! All tourists also go to the Neptune's Window, a very pretty spot near the entrance to the island. (photo)

During this amazing day we were also able to meet our friend from Polar Pioneer who came to the Antarctic with us - Graham. He is working on a tourist ship right now. The world is just so small!

Sadly the weather (wind) got really bad and we were not able to visit the active bases on Deception - the Spanish and Argentinian ones. Still, those two days were quite an adventure. Many thanks to the great guys from Castillo again!
Abandoned base Deception Abandoned base Deception Abandoned base Deception Abandoned base Deception Abandoned base Deception
Abandoned base Deception Castillo Deception, View from Neptunes Window On the Bridge of Castillo  
2006/02/19 - The nights on Arctowski are dark again. To be honest I find it really weird just to see darkness outside of my window. Except for the few lights in our base and the lights of Ferraz on the other side of the bay, eveything is covered in darkness. Last night a tourist ship - Nordnorge - came to pick someone from our station. It was snowing heavily and we had a bit of problems with showing the zodiac driver a good landing spot.

All remaining members of the summer group are going to leave us in the next two weeks. Polar Pioneer will pick most of them up on the 23rd. We will also have to upload all the belongings of the previous group on the ship using our amphibias. Two remaining scientists will leave on the 28th this month and the 1st of March. After that the wintering starts :)
2006/03/02 - The visit of Polar Pioneer didn't go as smooth as we hoped it would. One of our amphibias broke on its way back to the shore and we had to salvage it using the second machine.

Arctowski Station celebrated its anniversary on the 26th of February. Sadly the guests from Frei did not come, but we had a rather unexpected visit of people from the Russian Bellingshausen station. Of course our friends from Ferraz and Copacabana came as well.

The hell got unleashed on the evening of 26th. We still have plenty of snow after those two days with winds over 30m/s and huge waves exploding on the shore some 3m from our main building. The Russians got stuck on our Station 'till the morning of 28th.

We had a visit of the last tourist ship of the season yesterday. The last chance to do some shopping and have a look at something civilised ;) This was also our last chance to get some supplies - we can drink mineral water now, instead of tap water from our pond.

The 1st attack of winter is not over yet, as the snow didn't melt completly. There's still plenty of it in the mountains and hills and on the whole station, altho it's mainly mixed with mud now.

Ok, it's almost 8AM. Time to get to work and finish fixing the sauna :)
Snow and Greenhouse
2006/03/12 - The Americans from Copacabana are going to leave tomorrow. It's kind of sad to see people leaving from our bay. We will see them again in spring (October). We just had a huge goodbye party linked with a triple birthday party. 3 people obviously had to go to the ocean.

All adelis are gone now, the chinstraps appear occasionally, but there's really only a few of them. Gentoos will stay here through the whole winter. They always protect their nests from being taken over by other pairs. Last time I was at Copa, I've seen them fighting over the nests. Silly birds :)
2006/04/05 - Last month was a little bit crazy - I spent most of the weekends at Ferraz, most times we got stuck there 'till tuesday or wednesday because of the stormy weather. Of course, Ferraz means contact with family & friends due to the marvels of VoIP. It was really cool to be able to talk to all of you!

Last night we got completly flooded. There's a small lake below the Samolot atm. It also snowed heavily so the whole area is covered in a soft and white layer. Right now both the sky and the sea calmed down and we're slowly trying to get rid of the water and snow. Staszek is working hard :)
gentoo penguin in snow
2006/04/26 - We did it! :) The new windspeed record during our expedition is now 200km/h :) Our main building called Samolot (airplane) looked as if it's ready to fly. Since it's placed above ground, all the walls including the floor and ceiling were moving. Cold air was pushed in by all the holes in the wooden part of the building. It all lasted for 1 day and 1 long sleepless night. The storm calmed down on the next day.

The weather really is funny. We just had 4 windless and cloudless days in a row! Something I haven't seen since we left South America :)
young adeli skua food skua chick rocks and icefields penguin and skua
lone adeli little chinstrap landing skua gentoos in the rain gentoo in snow
gentoo nest gentoo feeding gentoo colony skua gentoo chicks
ecology in clouds demay dead adeli czajkowski needle cormoran
company cloud lenses chinstraps in love chinstrap parent and child chinstrap at twilight
chinstrap chinstrap antarctic steel sky adeli vs the police adeli cry
adeli the 3 policemen chinstrap nest
2006/06/11 - Ok, the autumn is definietly not the nicest season in the Antarctic. I'm really glad that it looks like it's over. The weather was pretty nice in the past two weeks, apart from one day in which the wind beat another speed record - 237.6km/h. It's slowly getting cold here. Still not that bad tho - -10C is nothing compared to the last winter back in Poland (the one we missed).

Last friday and saturday were very special: two post deliveries! Just imagine the happy faces of the tired people opening their letters or packages. We even got fresh newspapers (about 1 month old) :)

It's getting pretty boring in here. Most of the animals are gone, most of the people are gone and we haven't been in touch with the folks from Ferraz for a long time, except two 5 minute visits. We still don't have any real internet in here at it looks like we just missed our chance to get one. Maybe we'll get it in September... but somehow I wouldn't count on that.
2006/07/28 - This years winter is suprisingly mild. Or so we thought ;) Today is actually the first sunny day after a week of constant wind & snowing. Because of the wind, the snow keeps gathering near all buildings - it's as if they were surrounded with high white walls. We had to use our harvester to make some passable paths between all main buildings. Nowdays we stick to indoor activities for obvious reasons - it's just too bloody cold outside. Even in some of the buildings the temperature is below 0C :((

Sadly, we haven't been able to visit Ferraz during the last weeks. The weather tends to worsen on weekends ;)
2006/07/31 - Last saturday we set out to do the periodic animal counting. As usual some people counted them from Jedyna - at the beginning of Ezzcura Inlet to Ecology Glacier while others had to do the harder part - cross the lagoon at the beginning of Ecology Glacier on a canoe, walk past Copacabana, the Sphinx towards the Baranowski glacier.

Right near the canoe that we use to cross the Baranowski's lagoon we've found something pretty rare: a leopard seal resting on the shore. Of course we just had to harass it at least a little to make photos. The poor animal is pretty slow on land - it's movements remind of the way snakes move. Sadly it made no sounds and did not open his huge mouth :(

After we crossed the lagoon the weather screwed up a lot - it got pretty windy and hard to walk (well... it's no news here). Luckily there were more interresting animals waiting for us: I made some photos of crabeater seals and an albino fur seal (cute). It took two more hours to get to Demay, Patelnia and the Windy Glacier to do the counting there.

All in all we did about 25km on our feet, the whole trip took almost 8 hours (we had no time to rest really). I really thought I was going to die once we got back ;)) Anyway, it was really really cool to see that part of our island during winter. It was also my first time to cross the Baranowski's lagoon.
2006/09/08 - Wow, it's September already! 54 days left until Polar Pioneer gets here to pick up most of the 30th expedition members. I am going to stay here a bit longer though. Probably a month or so. Most of us really miss the families and friends back home. The food gets worse and worse as the good things get out of stock. We're almost out of all vegetables - no potatoes left, only some frozen stuff. I keep seeing carrots and apples in my dreams lately ;)

Three people from the Argentinian Jubany station visited us yesterday and will be staying with us for a while. It looks like they also brought good weather with them. After several weeks where everything was frozen solid, it is now slightly above 0 degrees Celcius. Both wind and sun are melting away large chunks of snow accumulated in the mountains while we're preparing ourselves for a little flooding which usually occurs in spring.
a view from belvedere goulden cove
2006/10/15 - Our neighboring Copacabana Station is not empty anymore! 5 people (3 women!) arrived here last week. After ages and ages of isolation it was really good to see new faces in the Admirality Bay. We also had a visit of about 18 people from the ice breaker that brought them here. The apples I've dreamed about for so long are finally on our table :) We also got milk, lettuce, cabbage, bananas, carrots, etc. It's really hard to stop eating all this fresh stuff after such a long break. Last time we got some fresh stuff was in March!

First skuas appeared exactly the same day the Americans landed. Looks like spring has finally started in here. The adeli and gentoo colonies are full of penguins and we're now waiting for the 1st eggs to get laid (should happen in 2-3 weeks). The chinstrap colonies at Demay and Patelnia are still empty. Close to those colonies, the beach is occupied by huge harems of elephant seals. The biggest males fight for the best spots before the females arrive. The females then gather around the males and give birth. A few days later they are ready to get fertilised. This thing repeats itself every October. We also saw three weddel seals with a few days old pups as well as leopard seals with the pups, resting on the packed ice.

It's a REAL pity my camera is dead :((
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