Ships Aground - and South Georgia Heroes come
to the rescue!
account below is by Sue Dowling, the BAS Medical Officer, King
Edward Point, South Georgia, written on the 14 May.)
Over the week of 30 April to 7 May, we had a hectic time here
at King Edward Point, when three fishing vessels ran aground and
86 mariners needed to be rescued and housed. All this on an island
with a current mainland population of just 13 people. Here's how
Wednesday 30 April was about two days into the Toothfish licensing
period here at South Georgia, always a busy time. The Fishery
Patrol Vessel Sigma was alongside the KEP jetty having brought
Senior Fishery Officer Roy Summers from Stanley to assist Marine
Officer Pat Lurcock with the licensing frenzy. We woke up to find
that strong winds (Force 10 to 12) had caused the Spanish longline
vessel Viking Bay to drag her anchor and run onto the beach just
next to the jetty here. The wind scuppered any plans we had for
small boat operations during the day, and hence we spent a frustrating
day unable to perform any licensing inspections. With assistance
from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) staff and Sigma's crew, the
Viking Bay managed to deploy mooring lines to hold her position
during the strong winds and was able to get herself off the beach
during the afternoon. She dropped off her MRAG (Marine Resources
Assessment Group) observer Tahmores Moslempour, and proceeded
to Stanley for a hull inspection. During the late afternoon and
evening the wind dropped, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Later that evening, we BAS staff were halfway through our evening
meal and about to attack a fruit crumble when a message came over
the radio from the Korean longliner Moresko 1 to say that she
had "hit bottom". The ship's MRAG observer Marcus Shuttleworth
(the only English speaker on board) reported that there was widespread
panic amongst the crew, and he thought the ship was taking on
water. Pat was already in the communications room and immediately
attempted to obtain help from other long line vessels in the area.
During the course of these radio transmissions it transpired that
another ship, the Falkland Islands registered Lyn, had also run
aground and two other vessels were assisting her. The two stranded
ships were on the rocks on opposite sides of the entrance to Moraine
Fjord, roughly 2 miles away from King Edward Point. We all abandoned
the crumble and crowded round the radio in the dining room area
listening with shock to what was going on outside, then organized
ourselves into taking all the spare duvets and pillows we could
find over to Larsen House, our overspill accommodation building
- which boasts only 8 bunks.
After listening to the radio some more, it became clear that
although Moresko 1 was taking in water and the engine room was
filling up, she was aground in only 0.5 metres of water so there
was little immediate risk to those on board provided they kept
calm. Unfortunately the crew were panicking and Marcus had to
make valiant efforts to calm down sailors who didn't share a common
language with him. All the life rafts were inflated and lowered
over the side and the crew was frantically preparing to abandon
ship - the sense of panic increasing when the generators failed
and the ship was plunged into darkness. Shifts were organized
ashore to man the radio and talk to Marcus every 40 minutes throughout
the night, Sigma also organized a listening watch, and the rest
of us went off to bed with varied successes in managing to sleep.
The Lyn, although suffering her own problems, kept a searchlight
on the Moresko 1 to monitor her situation.
were up well before dawn the following morning and had a briefing
shortly after 06:00. At first light, our RIB (Alert) and Sigma's
Delta RIB went out to Moresko 1 along with our small fishing
boat (Quest) to start ferrying the fishermen from Moresko
1 ashore. Roy and Malcolm (Sigma's Chief Officer) went onto
the vessel to ensure that the evacuation was conducted safely
and to assess the situation of the vessel. The boat crews
also collected the life rafts, some personal belongings and
a quantity of food - the food having to be sprayed with insecticide
spray to kill cockroaches before we allowed it ashore.
We had set up a reception area in the boatshed with warm drinks
on tap and as many chairs and benches as we could find, and laid
on soup, noodles, bread rolls, biscuits and fruit for the rescued
mariners. All 40 of them were well, if somewhat subdued, and wearing
dry, warm clothes. The plan was for us to house half of them and
for Sigma to take the rest, but plans can and do change so we
held them all in the boatshed until we knew what was happening
During the day a number of longliners (Isla Camila, Viking Bay,
Tierra del Fuego, Magallanes III and Polar Pesca I) had all attempted
to tow the Lyn, and at one time three vessels at once had tried
to pull her off the rocks. An hour prior to darkness, the Fishing
Master of Lyn decided to request that all bar 6 senior officers
were evacuated from his ship. The small boats went out again and
brought 37 sailors plus the MRAG observer Eugenio Olivares back
to us on shore. When we had heard the decision to evacuate most
of the Lyn crew we had immediately gathered the Moresko 1 crew
together and taken them up to Larsen House, as it was now obvious
that the sensible thing to do was for all the Moresko 1 sailors
to stay with us and for Sigma to take the Lyn crew. The three
observers stayed with us on base. It was difficult to communicate
with the Moresko 1 crew who were a mixture of Koreans, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Indonesians and spoke no English, so we resorted
to drawing pictures of toilets and "no smoking" signs
and sticking them on doors. Back in the Falklands, permission
was being sought to allow the Sigma to attempt to tow the Lyn,
as with her 3600 BHP she has more power than any three of the
Longliners mentioned above added together.
From the ground, the next few days seemed to merge together.
With only 8 British Antarctic Survey (BAS) people on base, plus
Rob Gater (MRAG Observer Co-ordinator), Pat and Sarah Lurcock,
and Tim and Pauline Carr at the South Georgia Museum, we were
very stretched as we had to juggle continuous daylight boating
operations, communications (with and between ships, boats and
base personnel, and with the "outside world" in Stanley
and BAS Cambridge), looking out for our 43 extra guests, a few
minor medical problems, and keeping the base running as normally
as possible. Science was of course put on hold for the time being.
A rota was drawn up to ensure that two of us stayed in Larsen
House round the clock - this gave us a chance to get to know the
sailors, not an easy task when none of them spoke English but
we soon discovered that dominoes and Connect Four straddle all
language barriers! Sigma gave their bar area, the largest open
space on board, over to the Lyn crew, who originated from Spain,
Chile, Peru and Indonesia. In the rare moments we had to sit down
and rest, we slumped in front of episodes of "Friends"
and "Cold Feet".
this, licensing had to continue so Pat, Roy, Rob, Howie the
BAS boatman, and the Sigma Delta crew (Frankie and Kev) were
constantly moving from here to there and from there to here
in the small boats. Over the next couple of days there were
a number of attempts by other vessels to pull Lyn off the
rocks, which meant lots of ferrying of Lyn crew members on
and off the Lyn to prepare towing lines, pump fuel, dump bait,
The Sigma had to abandon one attempt on 2 May due to darkness
and short tow lines, then things went a little better on 3 May
with two good tow lines attaching Sigma and Lyn together (several
mooring lines were donated by the Captain of Moresko 1). A diver
from the Lyn had discovered that rocks were pinning the ship in
on both sides of her stern, so a tow dead astern would be the
only solution. Roy and Craig (2nd Officer on Sigma) were aboard
Lyn to co-ordinate the towing attempt and translate instructions
and information. With the high tide and all Sigma's power, the
Lyn moved astern a few metres but remained stubbornly aground.
The longliner Jaqueline, another powerful ship, attempted a tow
the following morning but she also couldn't make the Lyn budge.
The six senior officers remained on the Lyn to operate the pumps
and machinery with the hope that when the tug Typhoon arrived
she would be able to remove the fuel, with the extra buoyancy
allowing the ship to be towed free. But eventually the poor old
ship gave up, the incoming water overwhelmed the pumps, and a
Mayday call was received at lunchtime on Monday 5 May. The 6 officers
were quickly and efficiently evacuated from their ship by BAS
boats and reunited with their crewmembers on Sigma.
|In a way that was a relief
for us here as it meant that we didn't have anyone remaining
on a damaged ship overnight. The senior officers of Lyn should
be commended for all their efforts to re-float their ship,
whilst always ensuring the safety of their crew. Later that
afternoon the Moresko 1 crew departed the cove on the jigger
101 In Sung, after a great deal of discussion and advice from
higher authorities about life raft capacity (101 In Sung did
not have enough life raft space for her own crew, let alone
the 40 extra from Moresko 1!).
By placing the inflated life rafts from Moresko 1 aboard 101
In Sung, Pat ensured that there was sufficient life saving equipment
on board for all. That night we had an "Emergency Bar Night"
with the Sigma guys in the base bar. Roy earned a reputation as
someone who enjoys drinking from those strange bottles of unusually
coloured alcoholic liquid at the back of the bar that no-one else
The tug Typhoon arrived from Stanley on Tuesday 6 May and although
she was unable to perform any salvage due to a lack of sufficient
pumps, she took 19 members of the Lyn's crew on board and eventually
headed back to the Falklands on 8 May. Sigma sailed on 6 May taking
the two MRAG observers Marcus and Eugenio and the 24 remaining
crewmembers from Lyn and eventually left us - nearly a week later
than planned, and after some extremely hard graft on everyone's
part. We were very fortunate to have Sigma alongside - it would
have been far more difficult to cope with the two wrecked ships
and sudden influx of 86 rescued sailors without the huge efforts
and good humour of her officers and crew.
So, now we're back to normal - or nearly there, as we're still
trying to secure the large amounts of rope and other objects on
the decks of both vessels, which would be a shipping hazard were
the ships to break up. We're left with two rather unsightly additions
to the view from our windows, and a strong smell of diesel when
the wind is in the wrong direction. There is approximately 800
tons of fuel on the ships, which is a potential environmental
disaster were the ships to break up. An oily sheen has appeared
on the water around the wrecks, and as Lyn managed to dump a lot
of her bait overboard during the attempts to pull her off, there
is a lot of seabird activity round her. Neither ship has functioning
freezers any more, so any remaining bait and perishable food is
beginning to rot and smell. Moresko 1 is infested with cockroaches
and rats, neither of which we are keen to give homes to.
We're now hoping that the fishing companies will arrange salvage
before the bad weather we expect at this time of year hits us
in earnest and the ships break up.
At the end of the day, there were no casualties and many heroes:
Roy, Pat, Peter Taylor (the Captain of Sigma) and Ian Parsons
(our Base Commander) who all managed their resources impeccably;
Sarah Lurcock who kept up cheerful and efficient radio communications
almost continuously for the duration; Howie, Frankie and Kev the
boatmen who kept their boats ready to go and worked non-stop during
daylight hours; the rest of us on the ground who laboured hard
behind the scenes to look after the extra faces and keep the power
on and enough food on the table for everyone; the officers and
crew of Sigma for too many things to mention; and Tim and Pauline
who had an overnight baking session to relieve us from the task
of bread-making and also provided a welcome haven when things
got too much at KEP. Everyone pulled much more than their weight
and we finished the week very tired but upbeat and confident that
we'd all done a good job.
BAS Medical Officer
King Edward Point, South Georgia
14 May 2003
South Georgia now has its own postcode!
|1. The Universal
Postal Union in Berne announced on Monday 26 May the introduction
of postcodes for the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich
Islands and British Antarctic Territory.
2. The reason for the new postcode is because the Falkland
Islanders came at the request of Islanders, where fed up with
having their mail redirected to places like the Faroe islands,
Greenland or Falkirk. A second reason is the need today, to
have a post/zip code for on-line transactions.
3. The achievement of gaining these new postcodes was as a result
of the hard work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Overseas
Territories Department working with the Royal Mail and the Universal
Postal Union. The new codes are:
SOUTH GEORGIA & SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS - SIQQ 1ZZ
FALKLAND ISLANDS - FIQQ 1ZZ
BRITISH ANTARCTIC TERRITORY - BIQQ 1ZZ
Below is an extract from ANAN about the number of visitors
to South Georgia this year,
SOUTH GEORGIA TOURISM RECORD SET: POSSIBLE
A new high for tourist visits to South Georgia was set during
the 2002-03 austral summer, according to data released at this
year's International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators
(IAATO) annual meeting earlier this month. Those numbers, and
observations made at two popular but environmentally sensitive
sites at the island, point to the need to review visitor management
at those locations, according a researcher who has been visiting
the island over the last two decades.
A total of 3,704 tourists landed on South Georgia last season,
a rise of 50 per cent on that of 2001-02, and almost 1,000 more
than in 1999-2000 when the previous record was set. Of that number,
3,606 arrived on 45 voyages made by 16 different tour ships whose
passenger capacities ranged from 24 to 550 passengers. A further
98 visitors went to the island in 14 yachts or small expedition
vessels, some of which were commercially operated. Pre-season
estimates for 2003-03 had put the number of visiting ships for
the season at 15, the number of voyages at 44, and passenger landings
at around 3,500, however, no estimate of yacht visits was possible
at that time (ANAN-75/03, 19 June 2002).
The cruise vessel 'Marco Polo', which was making its first visit
to the island in nine years, was by far the largest tourist ship
to visit the island last season (ANAN-63/011, 2 January 2002).
Under current management arrangements, it is only permitted to
land its passengers at Grytviken as its operating company, US-based
Orient Lines, is not a member of the International Association
of Antarctica Tour Operators (ANAN-77/03, 17 July 2002). Even
if its 370 passengers are discounted from the visitor total, a
new landings record would still have been set.
As is to be expected, Grytviken received the largest number of
tourists (3,649) and ship visits (47) last season, up by almost
1,200 passengers and 13 visits on the official figures for 2001-02.
Seven other sites along the northern coast of the island received
more than 1,000 visitors, with Gold Harbour (2,162 passengers
and 32 visits) topping that list. Others in the top ten sites
were: Salisbury Plain (2,024/32); Cooper Bay (1,756/26); Stromness
(1,224/19); Saint Andrews Bay (1,190/19); Albatross Island (1,079/23);
Prion Island (949/13); Godthul (658/12); and Whistle Cove in Fortuna
In all, landings were made at a total of 31 sites, four more
than in 2001-02, while the overall number of shore-visit operations
rose by 40 per cent from 218 to 304. Off-shore cruising in small
inflatable boats was conducted at 22 locations (up from 18), by
far the most popular being Elsehul which saw 15 such operations
involving 827 people.
In presenting the data, biologist Sally Poncet from the Falkland
Islands, who has been conducting research on tourist visitor sites
for the last three years, told IAATO members and others at the
meeting, including the current Falkland Islands' Governor and
Commissioner for South Georgia, His Excellency Howard Pearce,
that in her view the time has come to consider limiting the number
of people who visit Albatross and Prion Islands.
The populations of wandering albatross nesting at both islands
have decreased dramatically in recent years, and while Poncet
stressed that the population decline is being driven by fisheries
operations and not by tourist visits, the birds are on occasions
being inadvertently disturbed by visitors.
Even though the number of visit operations at Prion Island increased
by only one, the site experienced a 35 per cent increase in visitors,
while at Albatross Island, visits went up by over 50 per cent
and passenger numbers by 12 per cent. The average size of visitor
groups at Albatross Island dropped from 64 to 47, but at Prion
Island the figure increased from 59 to 73.
That potential for disturbance, as visits increase, is believed
to be currently being assessed by the Government of South Georgia
and the South Sandwich Islands, but whether visit limits will
be applied for the 2003-04 season, and if so just what their nature
will be, is not known at this stage.
Meanwhile, work is under way on the production of a visitor site-guide
for tourists who visit South Georgia. The guide, which will be
published in the same format as the 'The Oceanites Site Guide
to the Antarctic Peninsula' (ANAN-10/05, 8 December 1999), and
the 'Visitor's Guide to the Falkland Islands' (ANAN-59/07, 14
November 2001), is currently expected to be released prior to
the 2004-05 austral summer season. Poncet and researcher and tour
Expedition Leader Dr Kim Crosbie, are involved in the preparation
of the booklet.
Information being used in that work comes from a research project
whose aim was to collect precise details of a range of parameters
at some of the key tourist visitor sites around the island. These
data, which were collected by Poncet and fellow researcher Dr
Jenny Scott over the last three austral summers, are being used
to develop an up-dated environmental management plan for South
Georgia. Its aim is to protect the island's natural values while
ensuring sustainable management of economic resources and developments
(ANAN-6/06, 13 October 1999).
In addition to visits to South Georgia, the German company Hapag
Lloyd's tour ship 'Bremen' visited the South Sandwich Islands
on 24-25 January. These islands are also managed by the South
Georgia authorities. Off-shore cruising in inflatable rubber boats
was conducted at both Candlemas and Zavadovskiy Islands, and 143
people landed on Saunders Island.
Norway's Friends of the Islands in Edinburgh
The Friends of The Island (South Georgia) provided a superb photographic
display at the International Festival of the Sea, at Leith, Edinburgh
during the period 23 to 25 May. They provided a pictorial display
in association with the Fram Museum. The display of stunning photographs
included a section on the biodiversity of South Georgia and its
cultural heritage, including the whaling era and Shackleton's
links with the Island. The display was designed and built by Oystein
|The photograph shows Kjell
Tokstad, Chairman of "Yas Venner" (Friends of the
Island) explaining the display to some visitors.
Annual general meeting of the South Georgia
Association: Message from the commissioner.
||"I am delighted to extend
on behalf of the Government of South Georgia and the South
Sandwich Islands my best wishes to members of the South Georgia
Association on the occasion of the Association's Annual General
As a newcomer to South Georgia, I was delighted
to have the opportunity to make an early visit to the Island in
the first part of March this year. I was able to enjoy the hospitality
of Pat and Sarah Lurcock and to visit the British Antarctic Survey
base at King Edward Point, to meet Tim and Pauline Carr, and to
visit Shackleton's Grave, the Museum, the Church and the Whaling
Station at Grytviken. I also paid brief visits to Leith, Stromness,
Husvik, Godthul, St Andrews Bay, Salisbury Plain and Peggotty
Bluff. Using one of HMS Endurance's boats, I managed a visit to
Bird Island and the BAS base there, despite high winds and horizontal
sleet. I count myself very fortunate to have been able to see
so much of South Georgia in such a short time - and in a wide
variety of weather! My visit enabled me to understand why the
South Georgia Association has succeeded in attracting so many
knowledgeable and enthusiastic members.
To the uninitiated governing a remote South
Atlantic Island with a human population of under 20 might appear
a straightforward business. But I have rapidly learned that the
reverse is the case. To misquote Prime Minister Tony Blair, governing
South Georgia is about three things: environment, environment
and environment. This applies equally to all four of the South
Georgia Government's principal responsibilities: protecting the
Island's flora and fauna, managing the commercial fishery, regulating
tourism, and conserving the Island's historical heritage and industrial
This is a challenging agenda for a Government
with very limited means. Our main source of income derives from
licensing the commercial fishery. Over 80% of that income is ploughed
back into management of the fishery - a striking indication of
the South Georgia Government's commitment to responsible conservation
of its natural resources. This leaves a relatively small surplus
for other activities. Our current overriding priority is the clean-up
of the whaling station at Grytviken, in order to make the environment
safe for visitors and for those who live and work at Grytviken
and King Edward Point. Our aim is that the initial phase of this
project should be completed by the end of the next austral summer.
It is likely to cost some £6 million, a figure which represents
the total of the South Georgia Government's reserves. We are therefore
looking urgently and imaginatively at other sources of funding,
given our need to retain at least some resources to meet unexpected
contingencies. The recent grounding of two fishing vessels in
Cumberland Bay illustrates the problems with which the South Georgia
Government may unexpectedly have to deal.
I warmly welcome the establishment
of the South Georgia Association and the close interest of your
membership in this remarkable Island. I and my colleagues are
always pleased to have your views and your advice, even if we
do not promise always to agree with you! I am particularly encouraged
by your decision to hold a conference on South Georgia next September.
I look forward to addressing the conference and to meeting many
of you in Cambridge later this year.
Nigel Sitwell has been responsible for developing the South Georgia
Explorer Map. Other maps cover Alaska, Antarcica, Falkland Islands,
Southern South America. These maps can be obtained fron Ocean
Explorer Maps, Chichester, PO19 8NY, UK Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
News and Events additional to Jun 03
It is with much regret to learn that Tony Bomford has died. In
particular, he gave so much to the Island of South Georgia as
the surveyor on Duncan Carse's team that surveyed the island in
the 1950s and produced the map that is still used today.
Below is an obituary for Tony and copy of the address given at
his funeral by his friend Graham Budd. They give a clear insight
of his contribution to the island and his love of it and an idea
of his zest for life.
Adventurer who made his mark on mountains
Author: John Farquharson
Obituary - ANTHONY GERALD, BOMFORD, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL MAPPING,
17-1-1927 - 10-5-2003
A friend once called Tony Bomford, a former director of National
Mapping, Australia, "a renaissance man". He was certainly
in that mould.
Professionally he was a brilliant surveyor, mapmaker and
mathematician, while his wider interests ranged from travel
in wild and remote places and kayaking to stamp collecting,
poetry, music, making woollen rugs to mathematical and geometric
designs and carving polyhedrons from red box timber.
Two of his rugs with designs based, in technical terms, on "tessellations
of the infinite hyperbolic plane", are going through the
final processes of being accepted into the collection of the National
Gallery of Australia.
A larger than life figure, Tony Bomford, who died in Canberra
on May 10 of pancreatic cancer, aged 76, was essentially a restless,
irrepressible adventurer. And his "glad passion for surveying"
was a passport to seeing country no one had seen before. Of surveying,
he once said, "there was nothing I would rather be doing",
adding that, "If I'd been born in Captain Cook's day, I'd
have wanted to be one of his lieutenants".
He gloried in the challenge of little-known landscapes, kindled
early in his career when he undertook several mapping projects
for the British Schools Exploring Society on expeditions to Northern
Quebec, Iceland and Lapland.
But what gave him most satisfaction in his many years of surveying
was his secondment from the British Army in 1955 to Duncan Carse's
South Georgia Survey as its chief surveyor. In six months, Bomford
and his seven companions surveyed the whole island in atrocious
weather, man-hauling heavy sledges over mountainous terrain, living
in small two-man tents and negotiating innumerable first ascents
with their survey gear.
His map of the British-owned island south of the Falklands won
him the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society, the citation
stating that his work had established a new standard in Antarctic
mapping. For more than 40 years his map has remained the definitive
map of South Georgia, and one of the sharp spires marked on that
map bears the name Bomford Peak. His lucid narrative of the expedition,
superbly illustrated with photos taken by himself and others,
is now preserved in the Port Stanley museum, in the Falklands.
Bomford was born in India, of English parents, on January 17,
1927. The family was in India because Bomford's father, Guy, an
officer of the Royal Engineers was attached to the Survey of India,
of which, with the rank of brigadier, he later became director.
Brigadier Bomford, the British Army's noted geodesist, went on
to be head of survey for General Slim's 14th Army in Burma, before
later teaching geodesy at Oxford University.
With that background, it was not surprising that Tony Bomford
would follow his father into the Royal Engineers and elect to
serve in the Survey Corps, after enlisting in the army in August
1944 straight from Shrewsbury School. The opportunity for tertiary
education came when the army gave him two stints at Cambridge
University, where he completed the short course in engineering
with first-class honours in 1945.
A few years later he was back at Cambridge's Pembroke College
to do the engineering tripos. Again he graduated with a first,
as well as winning an extra year - giving him three years in all
- to do specialist studies in mathematics.
While at Cambridge in 1951 he married Adelaide-born Elizabeth
Honey, whom he had met the previous year. Back with the army,
he went on a two-year secondment with the British Overseas Survey
to Tanganyika (now Tanzania). While there, interest in Australia,
which his marriage had stirred, led him to take leave in 1954
to visit the country. Four years later he was back on exchange
from the British Ordnance Survey to work with the Australian Army
Survey Corps. He worked on mapping projects in central Queensland
and the Kimberleys where, in the more difficult country, surveying
was done with the use of helicopters, an innovation at that time.
His work in the Kimberleys led to one of the features he mapped
being named Mount Bomford.
After that stint in Australia, Bomford returned to Britain determined
that he would make his future life there. He spent two years with
the Ordnance Survey before moving to Australia and joining the
Division of National Mapping in 1961 as a senior surveyor. The
next 20 years at National Mapping saw him become supervisor of
geodetic surveying, assistant director and then director in 1977,
after having turned down the offer of an academic post at London
University a year earlier. He remained director for five years,
before taking early retirement in 1982. During those years he
made a significant contribution as a member of the National Mapping
Council's technical subcommittee, as well as to the Institution
of Surveyors, of which he became president, and as examination
secretary of the Institution of Cartographers. As surveyor, assistant
director and director, he made a major contribution, particularly
on the technical front. He worked hard to establish harmonious
working relations with state surveying organisations and the Army
Retirement gave Bomford what he said were the best 20 years of
his life, opening the door to creative work at home and adventurous
travel abroad. As his close friend Grahame Budd recalled, sometimes
on commercial treks or cruises, but more often on private trips
with just one or two companions, he walked and climbed in many
parts of North and South America, Iceland, the Himalayas and other
countries; kayaked in Greenland, New Guinea and other waters;
and revisited South Georgia. Every trip yielded a written and
illustrated narrative. Those narratives, together with his field
and personal diaries, more than 80 volumes in all, will go into
the National Library's manuscripts collection.
In the eyes of those close to him, he was a warm-hearted, generous
man with a gift for friendship, invariably exuding cheerful matter-of-factness
in trying circumstances. To any task in hand his commitment was
However, his abounding enthusiasm was sometimes a trial to his
colleagues, especially in the field when he would insist upon
working, even on lie-up days.
When cancer was diagnosed early last year, he was given about
six weeks to live. In the event, he had a year and three months,
enabling him last November to undertake one last adventure - a
visit to Heard Island and some of the other more remote islands
of the South Indian Ocean, then six weeks before he died, one
last kayaking outing on Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin.
His wife, Elizabeth, two sons (Richard and Philip) and two daughters
(Mary and Annabel) survive him.
John Farquharson is a Canberra writer and former deputy editor
of The Canberra Times.
Grahame Budd's speaking notes for Tony's funeral
Thurs 29 May 2003
Tony was a larger-than-life figure, and I can't hope to do justice
to all his adventurous activities and interests. He was educated
at Shrewsbury school in England, where he acquired a love of poetry
from an inspiring teacher called McEachran - 'Kek' to his pupils.
Kek believed, quite rightly, that good poetry is a form of magic,
a kind of spell, and that like all magic spells it should be spoken
aloud - sometimes even by boys standing on their desks.
Tony recalled an occasion when the whole class had shouted in
unison a particularly noisy spell - perhaps Nietzsche's lines
"I'm not a man, I'm dynamite!" Soon afterwards the school
porter appeared at the classroom door, bearing a message from
the headmaster: "Headmaster's compliments, sir, and could
Mr McEachran please keep his class in order."
When Kek published an anthology of poetry - under the inevitable
title of "Spells" - Tony took it to Lapland, where Warwick
Deacock got to know it. Then Warwick took it to Heard Island,
where I came to know it
and so the ripples spread, and
"Spells" became part of many people's lives - enhanced
for all of us by a feeling of apostolic succession, because Tony
had actually been there, he was one of those who had stood on
their desks and shouted for Kek.
I'd like to say a little about Tony's professional life and achievements,
and about our times together.
In the late 1940s Tony was in the British Army. He was a Captain
in the Survey Branch of the Royal Engineers, and also a member
of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RISC). He spent
three years as an instructor at the School of Military Survey,
and was seconded from the army to lead several expeditions of
the British Schools Exploring Society to such places as Northern
Quebec, Iceland, and Lapland.
In the early 1950s Tony spent two years surveying in Tanganyika
(now Tanzania), working alone in remote areas with a group of
local helpers who would clear trails and build trig points. Naturally,
he climbed Kilimanjaro.
Then in 1955 he was seconded to Duncan Carse's South Georgia
Survey as its chief surveyor. This was one of the classic Antarctic
expeditions. In six months Tony and his seven companions surveyed
the whole island, in atrocious weather, manhauling heavy sledges
over mountainous terrain, living in small two-man tents, and carrying
their survey gear up innumerable first ascents.
Tony's enthusiasm was sometimes a trial to his companions. However
unpromising the weather, he never missed an opportunity to occupy
yet another survey station. Even on lie-up days, when the weather
was too bad for outdoor work, he would forgo the usual relaxation
and instead would work up his observations on a hand-cranked calculator.
Tom Price, one of his companions, remarked that Tony had "a
glad passion for surveying". Surveying was, of course, a
passport to seeing country no-one had seen before. But there appeared
to be another reason - through surveying, converting the messy
three-dimensional landscape into an orderly two-dimensional map,
he could begin to make sense of the world. Tony himself wrote
that "There was nothing I would rather be doing." And
he recently remarked that "If I had been born in Captain
Cook's day, I'd have wanted to be one of his lieutenants."
The Royal Geographical Society awarded Tony its Ness Award for
the map of South Georgia that he produced, and the citation reported
that his work had established a new standard in Antarctic mapping.
For more than 40 years Tony's map has remained the definitive
map of South Georgia. His lucid narrative of the expedition, superbly
illustrated with photos by Tony and others, is now preserved in
the Museum of Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
Tony's work on South Georgia was so highly regarded that the
British Antarctic Survey invited him to lead one of its two-year
wintering parties to Marguerite Bay, its most southerly base.
Though sorely tempted, Tony declined. Elizabeth and their children
had spent nearly three years without a husband and father, and
it was time for some family life. They settled in Canberra, where
in 1961 Tony joined the Division of National Mapping.
However, the objectives and techniques of survey were changing,
in ways that no longer satisfied Tony. So in 1982, after five
years as Director of the Division, he took early retirement.
There then commenced what Tony said were the best twenty years
of his life - alternating between satisfying creative work at
home in Canberra and almost constant adventurous travel abroad.
Sometimes on commercial treks or cruises, but often on private
trips with just one or two companions, he walked and climbed in
many parts of North and South America, Iceland, the Himalayas,
and other countries; kayaked in Greenland, New Guinea, and other
waters; revisited South Georgia; and got to know numerous other
islands. Every journey yielded a crisply written and beautifully
illustrated narrative - all the volumes of which are now held
in the National Library.
I first met Tony in 1965, when we were both involved in helping
Warwick and Antonia Deacock build Chakola in Kangaroo Valley and
establish Ausventure Holidays - an enterprise that was greatly
helped by Tony's generous support and encouragement.
Since then, I and my wife Josephine Bastian and our three children
have shared many delightful bushwalks and ski tours with Tony
(and also with Jason, his spotted Dalmatian) in the Snowy, the
Budawangs, the Blue Mountains, the Himalayas - and eventually
South Georgia in Jerome Poncet's 50 foot motor-sailer Golden Fleece
(an apt name for Tony's voyage), when Tony at last achieved his
dream of circumnavigating the island. Josephine and Martin and
I were privileged to have Tony show us every feature of the island
- and even to admire the sharp spire of Bomford Peak, though sadly
not to climb it.
Last November I was able to return the favour, when Jo and I
shared with Tony and Jenny a visit to Heard Island - South Georgia's
natural twin - and the other lovely islands of the South Indian
Over all these years I and my family have valued Tony's gift
for friendship, his warmth, his generosity, his stimulating company,
and his cheerful matter-of-factness in trying circumstances. We've
admired his abundant energy, his lively intelligence, and his
sheer competence in everything he did. He has been an important
influence in our children's lives. His restless mind devoured
books on history, philosophy, mathematics, literature, art, and
poetry - to name a few. His equally restless hands made rugs of
great beauty and originality, and wooden polyhedrons that expressed
complex mathematical relationships.
Tony endured his final illness with grace and courage - qualities
also shown by his devoted companion Jenny Chapman, and by his
family. When we heard that he viewed his approaching death as
"a new adventure", we weren't altogether surprised.
Having travelled over so much of this world, perhaps he felt the
challenge of the next one - "The undiscover'd country, from
whose bourn / No traveller returns", as Hamlet said. Certainly
he was deeply moved when he received, independently from myself
and from his old leader Duncan Carse, a reminder of the heroic
resolve of Tennyson's Ulysses in old age:
"Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars
and so on. That sounds very like Tony.
To conclude, I'd like to read you a few stanzas from a poem that
Tony's dear friend Olivia Tsosie wrote for him, from New Mexico,
when she first learned of his illness:
"I want a world with this Tony
in it - charging up ridges,
wondering how to find the car
after taking sights from a
New Zealand trig point
In a New Zealand sheep field
On South Island
looking wandering albatrosses in the eye,
holding off stroppy fur seals
on island beaches,
laying in wood against the winter -
waste not want not -
enjoying the pleasure of the cross cut saw
and the effort of the ax;
cooking known grams of stir fry meat
with veggies in a skillet
outside the kitchen,
to keep the ceiling clean;
keeping journals, building diaries
illustrated with such
photos as some might
make a career just showing
in a gallery here or there;
tying rugs that take hyperspace
into two dimensions,
woodworking complex polyhedrals,
planning trips, and kayaking
in the Ozian morning
on an artificial lake;
a careful correspondent,
attentive to details
I can't even see - loving art
that moves him
and taking me to see Brancusi's Birds in Space
and the Magna Carta."
I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say to Tony, "Fare
well, old friend. We've had some great times together, and we
shall miss you."
Grytviken Whaling Station
GSGSSI has reached an agreement with Anglia Water Group (previously
Morrison) on 7 April on how to make Grytviken Whaling Station
safe. In short, this season GSGSSI are going to remove hazards
from the station and will only demolish what is absolutely necessary
to demolish for safety reasons.
Scope of works for the first season
1. Make the station safe from all contaminant materials that
present risk on the site as far as is reasonably practical.
2. Render the site safe for future visits by ensuring elimination
of the physical hazards presented by deteriorating structures
as far as is reasonably practical.
Scope of works for the second season
The form and extent of this work has yet to be decided in detail.
It is likely to include clearance of non-hazardous debris and
enhancement of the site utilising existing elements and without
the introduction of new materials.
First Season - Broad description of works
1. Remove all asbestos from the site and arrange disposal to
UK standards, or as otherwise agreed, in an appropriate disposal
2. Remove and dispose of all waste oils and lubricants from the
former whaling station area and former whale catchers Albatross
3. Make safe, remove and dispose of old gas and pressurised air
4. Remove or provide safe storage for PCB contaminated oils found
5. Make secure unsafe structures (if necessary and no other cost-effective
solution is available, by demolition).
6. Ensure site is left in a non-hazardous condition where winter
storms will not disperse materials into the surrounding area.
The plan is not to bury the asbestos beneath the football pitch.
The pitch is considered to be of historical and cultural interest
and to change the shape of the ground there was not appropriate.
Another suitable site close by where there has not been buildings
or football in the past has been chosen.
Assistant Operations Manager
Finally it is of note an Assistant Operations Manager for GSGSSI
has been appointed. His name is Richard McGee and he will take
up his post on 21 July. We all wish him well.
That wraps up the news
and events for Summer 2003, but keep an eye out for our next update.