The ship left Hobart yesterday carrying some one hundred odd people aboard on their way down to effect a resupply with us and drop off some new staff, a lot of whom will have never been to Antarctica before and will be creaming themselves with excitement about the fact that they’re actually now on their way here, in pretty much exactly the same way as I did last year I guess! Watching its progress in the mess today it would appear that they’re making good headway, a steady 10 knots and fairly good weather at this stage of their journey – That’s all great but we really don’t know what’s going to happen until the ship hits the sea ice and has to navigate a path through to Davis station. As you can see from the pic below the sea ice is fairly extensive, it’s the second year running in terms of record sea ice levels which obviously won’t make it easy for those aboard the Aurora. Davis can be seen in the bottom right, you’ll also notice a Polynya (an open area of water) beyond that but beyond this again is the greater challenge for the Aurora.
There’s a great deal more thinking behind the operation this year, last year was a bit of a shock to find such thick ice and the whole trip down took us 22 days, we spent literally weeks chomping away at the ice to try and break through at great expense and with worryingly low fuel levels – With that experience still fresh in the minds of the AAD there are a number of contingencies in place this year with pre-determined cutoff dates to try and not allow the same expensive delays to hit – There are possibilities for fly offs using the aircraft and helicopters from varying distances out and away from the station all of which will allow the transfer of people and a limited amount of cargo however if the ship cannot get to within 4kms of the station it cannot run the fuel line out that will refill the 600,000 litres of fuel that are required to run the station for a year – Likewise, the ship is laden with over 550 tonnes of cargo that if not delivered will change the face of the summer operations for another year. How does any of this affect me? ..Not too much to be honest, I’m staying on for the Summer so unlike my current Winter colleagues I don’t ‘need’ to get on the ship to return home………That said, if my new Nikon D610 and my new lenses don’t get here I will be setting off on some skis to find the boat myself…:-)
Well, what can I say, as some of you may know we were running a form of ‘in house’ community radio here at the station – Three of us would get together and record a couple of hours of us talking rubbish, playing our favourite tunes and discussing important darts games – We’d then play the ‘show’ back over one of the FM transmitters here so that people could listen to it at their workplace…..Whether they wanted to hear it or not.
For the three people involved (myself, Corey & Paul) it has been a labour of love which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed throughout the Winter, we’ve all discovered lots of new music, invited guests onto the show to play some of their songs and generally had a blast…Even down to writing and performing our own stupid advert breaks (which nobody found funny the first time yet the three of us still laugh at)
Anyhow, we performed our last show on Sunday which we made special by leaving the studio and driving out onto the sea ice to film it all happening, an easy task it wasn’t, the computer I record all the shows on needs to be maintained at room temperature or it won’t start up, for that reason we had a haggland with a heater in the back powered by a small genset that had to be kept a long way away from the mics so that they didn’t pick up the sound whilst recording…Everything took a long time to set up and test but in the end it was totally worth it as I believe we’ve probably done the first ever recorded radio show on the sea ice of Antarctica ever (well that’s what we’ve convinced ourselves of and we’re sticking to it)
And will it be the last show for Davis Radio? Hopefully not, I’m going to try my damnedest to get some other keen ‘DJ’s to join in this Summer which will keep the ball rolling for future expeditions to come – Anyway, some pics and a quick video taster of what we got up to:
Well we’ve obviously been preparing for the arrival of the ship, putting the buildings back to how they should be, stock takes, cargo packing, pretty much everything apart from our actual jobs but that is OK sometimes – I popped out to visit Deep Lake last Friday just to check the depth gauge and proceeded to spend most of the day getting pics of penguins and seals, the recent arrival of the penguins has given us all a reason to get offsite and explore, I say ‘arrival’ but it was pretty much an invasion, one day they’re not here and the next day you are watching hundreds of them swarm all over the islands in preparation for hatching – The same can be said of the seals who’ve also come closer to land to give berth to their pups….Again, more pics below:
Right, that’s enough for now, busy day tomorrow dealing with plane crashes (simulated before anyone asks!)