By mid November it was time for the summer season to officially begin (although I'd already been doing my summer work since the start of September). The James Clark Ross arrived to bring the new winterers and summer staff to the island.
After spending over 8 months on the island just the four of us, we were considerably nervous about having new people on the island. Before first call could start we had to seal proof the base. The male Antarctic fur seals had already started returning to claim a territory and await the females. Our raised walk ways seem a particularly attractive territory, which does not help us when we are trying to bring cargo up and down them. So a couple of weeks before first call we had to put up barricades to try to deter the seals from making territories in inconvenient places. We lined up empty due drums all the way from the jetty towards the base, and put heavy rocks on top of weigh them down. Some of the seals did not seem to understand that this meant that they were not supposed to go in that area, and kept climbing over (yes climbing over) the drums. They are insanely strong and use their front flips to hoist themselves up and over. You then had the difficult task of removing them from the area, which isn't easy to do with a 300kg, stubborn, and aggressive animal. It was stressful all round, but by the time first call came we only had one problem seal, which isn't too bad considering the numbers on the beach.
On the morning of first call we waited on the jetty for the first boat to come in with what seemed like a hundred people on it. Suddenly our quiet little house was rammed with people and we all felt way out of our comfort zone. The newbies arrived on the second boat and we did our best to make them feel at home as we know how overwhelming it is arriving on the island. Jess is my replacement working on albatross, Cian to work on seals, Rob the new tech, Manos IT specialist and Adam the summer base commander.
After an exhausting day shifting cargo, sorting vegetables for invasive species, and fitting in a few tours to show off the Wandering albatross the boat finally left for the day. I quickly knocked together some pasta (a lot of pasta compared to normal as we had 10 on base compared to the usual 4) and started getting to know our new housemates. It took another couple of days to get all of the cargo ashore and we were delighted to have some new fresh food, as well as post and parcels from home.