Antarctic Fox
The log of Rachel and Kevin Fox's trip to the Antarctic Peninsula in the Summer of 2008-9
Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit
December 29 - Vernadsky Station, Galindez Island, the Antarctic Peninsula

Tonight we had the honor of visiting Verdansky Research Base, operated by the Ukraine. Originally established by the British as 'Base F' in 1947, the station was 30 years later renamed 'Faraday Station' in honor of the scientist Michael Faraday, whose accomplishments in electromagnetic radiation were right in line with much of the geomagnetic and upper atmosphere research conducted at the base. In fact, regular UV radiation readings conducted at the base resulted in the first significant evidence of ozone depletion over the Antarctic continent.

But I digress. Through the latter third of the century the UK was consolidating its 27 Antarctic research stations into a small number of bases. Some were abandoned, others dismantled. In 1996 the UK sold Faraday Station to the Ukraine for the sum of one British pound and the condition that the Ukraine would continue the research currently in progress, and thus the first Ukrainian team moved in to the base in February of 1997.

Icee

Icee - Bay outside Vernadsky Station, Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Waiting For Our Ride

Waiting For Our Ride - Rob had already gone over to Vernadsky Station to say hi and get information how landing and such for our visit. I just love the red of his jacket against all the blue. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Vernadsky Station

Vernadsky Station - On our way to visit the Ukrainian Antarctic base. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Hello Vernadsky

Hello Vernadsky - Approaching Vernadsky Station. This is the Ukrainian research base in Antarctica. Here are getting ready to land on the famous dock that never got rebuilt because they built the bar instead. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Life Suits

Life Suits - A few life jackets seemed to have been misplaced when we left the ship, so Sara and Heather volunteered to wear these suits, like their crew companion, which have built in life jackets. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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All The Amenities

All The Amenities - Some humor along with people on the base making themselves feel at home by decorating this Antarctic base with common things from home. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Thumbs Up For Vernadsky

Thumbs Up For Vernadsky - Alan gives visiting Vernadsky station a big thumbs up! - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Antarctic Palfinger 10,000

Antarctic Palfinger 10,000 - Machinery at Vernadsky station, Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Escape Into The Wild

Escape Into The Wild - Zodiac boat on the dock at Vernadsky station, Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Entering Vernadsky

Entering Vernadsky - Walking up to the Ukrainian Antarctic base for our tour and meeting the awesome crew! - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Piling in to the station's mud room, we were greeted by the station's IT guy who was also our tour guide. His Ukrainian accent was strong, his English presentation was well-rehearsed, and the jokes he sprinkled throughout the tour were all the funnier for their dry delivery.

Adelie House

Adelie House - One of the buildings on the Ukrainian Antarctic Station. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Flag Marks The Spot

Flag Marks The Spot - Vernadsky station, Antarctica. Many locations in Antarctica have sign posts like this that points the direction and distance to other places in the world. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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What's Up Doc?

What's Up Doc? - The doctor's office at the Ukrainian station in Antarctica. I love that the snow has piled up to the window outside. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Everyone manning Vernadsky Station is an overwinterer. Vernadsky operates on a 13-month rotation schedule, with one month overlap for the outgoing team to transfer responsibilities, traditions and knowledge to the incoming team. There are only 14 people on the station, 13 men and one woman, who's husband is also on the station.

Science Is Never Black & White

Science Is Never Black & White - One of the Ukrainian scientists at Vernadsky station, Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Signs of the station's British origins linger (literally and figuratively) throughout the station's halls and lore. Much smaller and more rustic than Palmer Station, Vernadsky was eager to share everything about itself. We were clearly told their photography policy: "Take pictures of everything and share those pictures." The more publicity the station gets, the better the station fares.

Penguin Flip Man

Penguin Flip Man - Antarctic comic strip about the penguin superhero - PENGUIN FLIP MAN! - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Windows

Windows - I believe this is the Vernadsky station managers office. But its the contrast of the standard windows background with the Antarctic view on the window that amuses me! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Antarctic Interior Decorating

Antarctic Interior Decorating - The workout room at Vernadsky station, Antarctica. Did we mention that the entire crew except for one are men?! And that one woman is the wife of one of the men on the base already. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Conducting Research

Conducting Research - Electronic work in progress in one of the offices on that Ukrainian Antarctic station, Vernadsky. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Sea Samples

Sea Samples - Labeled samples from the ocean environments in Antarctica. The jar in the front contains krill. Very small shrimp that are the major diet for the Antarctic penguins, many seals and whales including the Humpbacks and many other Antarctic species. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Bowski

Bowski - A bow made from skis by a member of the Ukrainian Antarctic crew! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Unexpected Alan

Unexpected Alan - This is our guide for our tour of the Ukrainian Antarctic station, Vernadsky. The guy listening on the side is Brian. it took us a while to figure out why there was a photo of Uncle Alan on the wall in the meteorologists room here in Antarctica seeing as this was our first visit there. A rather amusing detail of the photograph now. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Weather Prediction With Guinness

Weather Prediction With Guinness - Amusing little system for drunk weather prediction! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Ukrainian Antarctic Meteorologists

Ukrainian Antarctic Meteorologists - On the door of the meteorologists office at Vernadsky station. All of the Ukrainian meteorologists have been putting their names on the door for the last 13 years. I think this is awesome! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Corky Penguins

Corky Penguins - These penguins were made by the only woman on the Ukrainian Antarctic base out of wine corks. Each penguin represents one of the members of the crew at Vernadsky. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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While a relatively small research station, Vernadsky is not without its idiosyncrasies. While still a British base, the station once received a shipment of wood and orders for the base carpenters to construct a new pier to replace the old, faltering pier. The carpenters, thousands of miles from authority, decided that the old pier still had a few years left and proceeded to use the wood to fashion a traditional English bar instead. While they received a stiff reprimand for their choice, they started a tradition of stiff drinks on the base that survived, nay, was enhanced by, the transition to the Ukrainians.

Greatest Ukrainian Bar In The World

Greatest Ukrainian Bar In The World - Sign heading into the Ukrainian bar at Vernadsky station. This bar has a history as it was never meant to be built, but some rouge carpenters made the bar instead of the dock they were meant to build. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Drinks Are Served

Drinks Are Served - Serving up the homemade vodka at the Ukrainian base in Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Glacial Vodka

Glacial Vodka - I have to start by pointing out that I really don't like vodka. There are very few vodka drinks I can tolerate. That said this vodka was AMAZING. The Ukrainians at Vernadsky station make it using glacial water. This stuff is smooth and strong and really tasty! Chasing it with a piece of pineapple is the perfect compliment! The whole thing actually helps lure you into drinking a little too much. I believe I got talked into about 5 shots! I was a happy girl. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Cheers

Cheers - A little home made vodka to begin our new friendship with the members of the Ukrainian Antarctic base and get the party started. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Visiting the bar, which incidentally houses the ceremonial one pound note that bought the station, has become a rite of passage in the Antarctic. The Ukrainians distill their own Vodka using centuries-old ice harvested from a nearby glacier, and they pour it freely to any who ask (and convince those who don't). Adding to the lore of the Faraday Bar, the wall holds a collection of bras donated by women who have visited the station. Taking one for the team by giving one to the team, Daveen fulfilled our traditional obligation.

Ukrainian Vodka Shots

Ukrainian Vodka Shots - The Ukrainian Antarctic crew were awesome. They even treated us to some homemade vodka. A LOT of homemade vodka actually! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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One Of Our Ukrainian Friends

One Of Our Ukrainian Friends - A portrait of one of the amazing people we met at Vernadsky station. He thought Sara a few dance moves too! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Tending Antarctic Bar

Tending Antarctic Bar - Another of our new Antarctic friends. He had real spunk and personality. Also, if you look closely at the bar in front of him you will see a small coin sunk into the piece of wood there. That is the actual pound used to purchase Vernadsky base from the British. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Vernadsky Vodka

Vernadsky Vodka - Sara and Rachel toasting their new friends at Vernadsky station, Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Down The Hatch

Down The Hatch - This is at least Rachel's second or third shot of the amazing homemade vodka at Vernadsky station. The Ukrainian crew makes it from glacial ice and its wonderful. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Leaving Our Mark

Leaving Our Mark - Daveen leaving behind a bra at the Ukrainian bar in Antarctica. As you can see behind them, there is quite a tradition of women leaving their bras after a few shots of the Ukrainian homemade vodka. This may be the first bra they received from a completely sober woman! Go Daveen! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Group Shots

Group Shots - Sara, Kevin, Heather and many of the rest of our group enjoying homemade vodka shots with the Ukrainians of Vernadsky Antarctic base. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Share The Love

Share The Love - Sara made great friends with one of Ukrainians of Vernadsky base, Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Ukrainian Spin

Ukrainian Spin - Sara learning a Ukrainian dance from one of the members of the Vernadsky Antarctic crew. In the background you can see the door to the gift store which brags that it is the southernmost souvenir shop on the earth! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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V is for Vernadsky

V is for Vernadsky - Another portrait of one of our new friends on the Ukrainian Antarctic base. Patricia was having a great time hanging out with him. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Getting the Run Around

Getting the Run Around - Ingrid learning a dance from one of our new Ukrainian friends on the Vernadsky station in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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In Your Eyes

In Your Eyes - Ingrid learning a Ukrainian dance from one of our wonderful hosts at Vernadsky station Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Sisters & Vodka

Sisters & Vodka - We had all had several shots of the Ukrainian homemade vodka by the time we got to this point in the night. Plus Sara and Ingrid had just gotten a turn around the dance floor with a couple cute Ukrainians. This and just an awesome visit definitely contribute to the smiles on these sisters faces! - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Antarctic Palm Trees

Antarctic Palm Trees - The Vernadsky water tour at sunset, which happens to be 11:21pm when this photo was taken at the Ukrainian base in Antarctica. - Photo by Rachel Lea Fox
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Vernadsky Station

Vernadsky Station - One of the buildings on Vernadsky station in Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Heading Home

Heading Home - Heading back to the docks to go home to bed after a wonderful visit to Vernadsky station Antarctica. We walk home warm and toasty from the wonderful homemade vodka the crew treated us too, and enjoy an amazing 11pm sunset on the way. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Sunset Supplies

Sunset Supplies - 11pm sunset on Vernadsky station Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Down To The Water

Down To The Water - Leaving Vernadsky Station in Antarctica with a late night sunset as we go. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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Peace Out Vernadsky

Peace Out Vernadsky - The sun setting at 11:15pm on Vernadsky Station in Antarctica. - Photo by Kevin Fox
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We drank, talked, and danced with the Ukrainians until after midnight, when the station master politely reminded us that even though the sun was still shining his men needed to get to sleep so they would be functional in the morning, and so with vodka-warmed hearts and bellies we made our way back to our own roving base, knowing that soon one of the Vernadsky crew was going to have to make a glacier trek again soon, because more vodka won't make itself.

Read the next chapter: Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset


Table of Contents:

Introduction: Telling the Story posted Jan 10, 2009

Day 0: Positioning posted Jan 12, 2009

Leaving, on a jet plane posted Jan 12, 2009

Day 1: The Herc posted Jan 15, 2009

Day 1: Penguino posted Jan 16, 2009

Day 2: Chicken posted Jan 17, 2009

Day 2: Leopard posted Jan 19, 2009

Day 2: Snow Day posted Jan 22, 2009

Day 2: Shipwreck posted Jan 26, 2009

Day 2: Totally Tabular posted Jan 27, 2009

Day 3: Gentoo Cute posted Jan 29, 2009

Day 3: Lichen Shag Glacier posted Feb 3, 2009

Day 3: Palmer Station Visit posted Feb 9, 2009

Day 4: Icy Penguins posted Feb 11, 2009

Day 4: Adelie Awesome posted Feb 15, 2009

Day 4: Leopard Seal Attack posted Feb 17, 2009

Day 4: Kayak posted Feb 19, 2009

» Day 4: Vernadsky Station Visit posted Feb 23, 2009

Day 4: Vernadsky Sunset posted Feb 25, 2009

Day 5: Antarctic Circle posted Feb 27, 2009

Day 5: Polar Plunge posted Mar 5, 2009

Day 5: Mouth of The Gullet posted Mar 13, 2009

Day 5: Ice Camping posted Mar 18, 2009

Day 6: Flamingos on Ice posted Mar 20, 2009

Day 6: Mountain Climbing posted Mar 24, 2009

Day 6: Ice Textures posted Mar 26, 2009

Day 6: Antarctic New Years posted Apr 2, 2009

Day 7: Crystal Sound Icebreaker posted Apr 9, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 1 posted Apr 17, 2009

Day 7: Abandoned Antarctica: Base W - Part 2 posted Apr 21, 2009

Day 8: Bird Watching in the Fish Islands posted Apr 23, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 1 posted May 5, 2009

Day 8: Icee Day - Part 2 posted May 11, 2009

Day 9: Port Lockroy - Base A posted May 20, 2009

Bonus Chapter: Baby Penguins! posted May 21, 2009

Day 9: Antarctic Humpback Whales posted June 3, 2009

Day 9: Dallmann Butt Sliding posted June 11, 2009

Day 10: Birthday Whales posted June 23, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 1: The Birds posted July 15, 2009

Day 10: Hannah Point Part 2: Elephant Seals posted July 22, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 1: Walking on the Moon posted Dec 11, 2009

Day 10: Deception Island - Part 2: The Martian Chronicles of Oz posted Dec 15, 2009

Day 11: Emperor Penguins posted Jan 8, 2010

Day 12: Black and White and Pink All Over posted Aug 4, 2011

More chapters posted every few days...



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