After the amazing journey through the Peltier Channel, we reached Jougla Point and Port Lockroy. We had someone who works and lives in Port Lockroy, come and talk to us about the history of the place. Only 3-4 people live and work in this tiny island throughout the year, I am not sure how they while away their time.
During Operation Tabarin in 1941, the British set up two bases in the Peninsula area to keep an eye on enemy shipping and destroy old fuel dumps. They chose Port Lockroy as an important anchorage and imaginatively named their base “A”. Its counterpart, the equally imaginative Base B, was built at Whalers Bay, Deception Island. It seems they used up all their innovation when naming the entire operation after a Paris nightclub favoured by the staff. Since its restoration in 1996 by the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT), Base A on Goudier Island at Port Lockroy has become one of the most visited sites in Antarctica. It now operates as a museum, kept much like it was in the 1950s, as well as a post office and souvenir shop with all proceeds going to the AHT, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historical huts in Antarctica.
Jougla Point and Port Lockroy are just a stone’s throw away from each other, not that you can jump from one island to another, but they are fairly close to each other. Because of the restriction of about 60 people in Port Lockroy at any point of time, half of us spent time on Jougla Point, while the other half spent time on Port Lockroy. And whenever we were ready to go to the other island, our zodiac team would help transfer us.
We started on Jougla Point, which according to our Expedition Leader was more beautiful than Port Lockroy and within 5 minutes on the island, I could immediately see why. The island was fully populated with Gentoo penguins with the exception of a handful of Adelie and Chinstraps wandering out and about. Most of the Gentoo penguins had their chicks just 10 days ago, and the rest were carefully guarding their nests, waiting for the eggs to hatch.
We spent a lot of time, closely observing their behavior – how the mom and dad would take turns to safeguard the nest, how they’d pick one stone at a time to build and protect their nests, and how the parents fed their little ones. I was speechless! And of course, the way they clumsily walk about on the ice, slip and fall off, and jump up and down on the stone cliffs were just downright hilarious.
The views of the surrounding glaciers from the island were just fabulous – not sure how to best describe it; either it’s impossible to describe it or I’m not good at it. But hopefully our pictures and videos will help. From the far end of the island, we noticed a couple of seals basking away to their glory.
Then we hopped on the zodiac to go to Port Lockroy. There’s a gift shop, museum and post office open during summer. The gift shop carries some souvenirs such as calendars, bottle openers, t-shirts, etc, and the museum takes you to the rooms that were used several years ago.
After spending a wonderful few hours in Jougla Point and Port Lockroy, we returned to our ship and spent the rest of the evening watching people doing the Polar Plunge (people jump into the freezing cold Antarctic waters for a few minutes for the heck of it) and ended the day enjoying a sumptuous New Years dinner and party.