Hurry Up and Wait….

It’s become increasingly harder to find the enthusiasm to write anything for this blog lately so I’m going to force myself tonight – I guess that’s what happens when nothing is quite as new and exciting anymore – Now that’s not a complaint, I still love working here but, put bluntly, working here is very much a normal feeling now, the weather probably compounds that feeling in that it feels more like working at a mining camp than an Antarctic station plus we’re in a period between the usual boughts of activity which usually go some way towards addressing my requirement for adrenalin…

With Winter just round the corner it’s a time to reflect on the extra period of ‘overtime’ I’ve had down here – Overall It’s been a good Summer and very different from last year due to the inclusion of the obvious aviation element that we were missing after last years Helo crash. There’s been plenty of days of excitement, flights on and off station, good walks to new locations, parties, foreign visits and wildlife. but that is all now slowly coming to an end – The aviation has gone and with it the requirement to react to operational urgencies, likewise the sea ice took all the access to wildlife with it unless you fancy watching the Elephant seals fart at each other on the beach. As a member of last years Wintering team I’m now really just a summerer and don’t have any involvement in any fire or SAR responsibility so that is another side of interest of my last job that’s also now removed.

The ship has left Mawson having successfully resupplied nearly a million litres of fuel and replaced the staff team with the next generation of keen expeditioners. It’s on it’s way to Davis station….Slowly….. I say slowly because there are numerous scientific experiments being conducted at sea which are going to mean it’s planned arrival at Davis isn’t until the 11th of March – We weren’t supposed to depart for some time anyway but the ship has almost five weeks of contingency time up it’s sleeve now given it’s early arrival at Mawson without sea ice to contend with. The ship has been paid for up until the 30th of March so anything that Kingston can think of to keep it useful is obviously going to happen, a lot of the current experiments are work being carried out that aren’t due until next year so progress is certainly being made by using the extra time we have before the ship picks us up.

One thing of note is that the weather appears to have taken a turn this week, where we’d been in almost positive temps for the past few months we’re now heading sub zero and the extra layer is needed again. “Winter is coming” as they say on Game of Thrones..
I’ve just flicked back through this blog to try and remember when last years Summerers left and it was before this date by the looks of it – This time last year (Blog page here) I’d just come back from Sansom Island on a day assisting one of the AGSO’s with some fuel drum recovery – That seems Soooo long ago now!

My room is practically packed now, there’s a selection of open boxes in limbo with a few items on the desk that I’m still clinging on to until the last cry for UPE (Unaccompanied Personal Effects) is to be taken to the green store and manifested for the journey home. I have already packed up eleven of the sixteen (yes that’s right, sixteen) boxes that I’m shipping home, the rest contain a few bits and bobs which I’m still using and am trying to work out exactly which of my many things I’m going to need at home over the next few months so need to take them with me on-board. Basically all of my shipped UPE won’t make it home until two months after arriving in Hobart so I need to be a bit clever about what I keep with me, I’m only allowed 30kg of personal luggage on-board the ship…My ‘on board’ luggage at present is as follows:

  • 1 x Black Pelicase with 2 x Nikon DSLRs and 3 lenses – Total weight = 9.5kgs (Eeek!)
  • 1 x DJI Quadcopter (I so should have shipped this on V1 last year!) – Total weight = 2.5kgs
  • Manfrotto Tripod – Total weight = 2.6kgs
  • Rucksack Laptop – Total weight = 8kgs
  • Yellow Pelicase with various hard drives, GoPros etc – Total weight = 7 kgs
  • Berghaus Rucksack with clothing – Total weight = 6 kgs

Now, those with PHD’s in maths will likely have spotted the issue in my calculations…..That being that all my carry on luggage totals 35.6 kgs – I do however have a plan, the last item (my clothing) will all be worn simultaneously as I board the ship including my rucksack (under a jacket) which should be barely visible – Basically I’m going to be looking like some form of Indonesian drug mule with clothing taped close to my body whilst trying my best to not resemble the “Stay Puffed Marsh Mellow Man” from Ghostbusters…

Funny, I’ve just typed here that I don’t have many photos to show for this month…And then I’ve just gone through them all, yep OK, given normal life back home I guess there have been some happenings here in comparison, I had a hilarious walk to Brooks hut with some good lads from here at the start of the month, a number of alcoholic beverages were taken with us (But no bacon?) which resulted in both stupidity and hilarity but I’m afraid the old rule must be applied of “What happens in the hut, stays in the hut” so there’s no point me trying to explain the jokes there – We also did an afternoons boating around the bergs, not quite as mirror flat as last year but it was still a nice trip out, yeah I know, I’ve been spoilt! – The Chinese visited via their ship the Xue Long and spent a bit of time looking around station along with the Indians and of course the Russians who constantly land here to “have a rest” which seems to consist of drinking our beer and using our wifi – Other than that, as I say, nothing happened 🙂 – I know, I’m now in that transient stage where I’m waiting for the next big thing to happen and all is well…

I’m now looking forward to getting home, sitting in a hammock in the garden in the warm Queensland autumn heat, drinking a beer (Which I can buy when I want and choose what I want) and pondering what I do next after what has been a rather brilliant adventure. I’m still owed seven weeks pay when I finally hit Australian shores, I’m going to be taking all of that off as it’s probably the first time I’ve been able to take time out without pressure for the past fifteen years….I shall be doing lots of camping on beaches…Oh yes…

Who knows, this could be my last blog from the continent? I certainly can’t upload anything whilst on the ship and no doubt the way in which this resupply will happen will be quick & driven….My next blog entry may well be from UpAboveZero… 🙂

Cheers all

Stu

 

 

 

 

 

 

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