AA Ship Shape Shake Down

Managed to get a few days on board the Aurora Australis (AA) at the beginning of this week – We had a quick dash after training to catch a water taxi out to the ship on Monday night. The AA was at anchor out in the harbour so we had to step off the water taxi and climb a rope ladder up and in through an open port in the side of the hull to get on board, seemed like a daring thing to do on a Monday night in the dark after a bowl of chips in a pub…..

We had a brief look round that night but to be honest not much was going in after a long day of incident management training, the following day was always going to be easier to absorb the information so I hit the sack in my cabin whilst my head got used to being aboard a boat again (Been a while since we used to be on ‘Chelsea Morning’). Next morning saw me walking down to the galley to get some breakfast: “OMG the food is so awesome!” (Said in teenage voice) – Bacon, sausages, mushrooms, beans, hash browns, cereal, fruit, yoghurt….It basically didn’t stop…..and unfortunately neither did I….Toast is so boring now…

Had another look round the ship, most of my time was spent trying to remember which deck contains what facility, whether I was on the port or starboard side and fore or aft etc, it was easy to get lost…

We had a few jobs to do, all of which were basically around familiarisation, the phone system numbers had a new range so we went round and set up some phones in some of the rooms, got up on deck to locate some of the antennae’s for the HF, VHF, Waverider, BGAN etc, helped out with some work needed on the antennae tower, installed a computer with some software used for monitoring sea ice depth for when we need to break through in a few weeks etc.

Lots of little things, all good for familiarisation so hopefully we get a bit of a head start when there are over a hundred people on board in a few weeks time. Meanwhile the crew were having issues with the bow thruster so we spent a fair bit of time spinning round whilst it was put through it’s paces, It wasn’t until about 5pm on Tues evening that we actually started motoring out to sea to give her a bit of a shake down, we came back into the harbour and dropped anchor again after a few hours though.

We got ashore yesterday in time for the station BBQ back at Kingston, myself and Paul cooked up a few thousand sausages (I only wanted to cook as it was near the BBQ and was nice and warm!) and nobody died so they must have been OK.

It’s now nearing the end of training, more packing, more sneaking in of consigned goods, more trying to work out what clothes are left to wear and more sneaking out to pubs for a bit of social entertainment in the evenings (Station Leader organised last nights one so I can blame him)

Tomorrow night (Friday) I fly back home to spend a week with the family, I have a few small bags packed in my room now, one large one to go home and a shed load of stuff in the fridge to chuck away….It’s all very real now, I’m getting the occasional twinge of excitement and almost nervousness at what’s coming up, it’s going to be a very good year, every day the stories get funnier and the trust builds…..

Hoping to get to Straddie Island for a few days when I get back but we’ll see what pans out….Anything to get the boys off the laptops for a few days and try to remember who I am before I depart for a year would be a good thing 🙂







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