As usual I’ve found myself ‘not quite getting round to doing the blog again’ which is a bit of a shame as I do enjoy doing it when I finally kick myself up the backside…
I’ve just had another brief yet interesting visit to the ice world at the bottom of our planet again, this time to Casey station to assist with their annual resupply aboard the Aurora Australis. My role this time was to be gainfully employed as the ships comms support person on Voyage 2 (referred to as V2)….What that effectively means is I consistently remind other expeditioners that there really is no internet access on board and offer coping strategies for those suffering from Facebook and snapchat withdrawal. I also print the daily newspapers to remind others that we’re really quite lucky to not be living in a warzone or currently facing the wrath of the planets changing weather moods as the environment tries to slowly boil everything and cause phenomena not recorded before..…
Casey Station is located further East than Davis station where I was posted before, in longitudinal terms it’s just west of Perth so takes about eight days to sail there as opposed to the ten or eleven to Davis….That’s the theory anyway, the sea ice can change those timescales drastically if it doesn’t want us to get through quickly..
My first few days saw me running around trying to get email, phones, network and radio issues resolved so I didn’t have much time to think about anything else. The first few days at sea are usually the worst if you’ve not been offshore for a while, I do get a bit nauseous if I’m down below for too long and the rough conditions usually mean that I’ll take Avomine to hold back the seasickness whilst I’m adjusting. There is a rather nice effect side to Avomine though (well for me anyway) in that it makes me very sleepy and I’ll go into a bit of a ‘ships coma’ for a few days and enjoy sleeping for fourteen hours at a time…I think it’s the closest I will ever get to realizing what it’s like to be a cat e.g. wake up, eat, sleep, repeat…..
On the notion of eating, well that’s something that’s not so good – I am in no way complaining about the food, in fact the complete opposite – The food onboard is some of the best I’ve ever had, if I were to eat Bob’s ‘Moroccan Chicken’ for the remainder of my life I would die with a massive smile on my face, no, no complaints at all…..The problem is my willpower, or to be more precise, my will ‘not’ power….I like to think that during normal life that I’m a fairly fit bloke generally, don’t eat too much, exercise regularly etc…That is not possible on the ship due to facing amazing free food on offer all day long – I reckon I’ll have put on about 40kg during my time onboard and of course, coupled with the fact that there is nowhere to go for a walk or run I shall remain in an exercise debt for my return..
We had a reasonable trip South this time, seas were fairly good, no large twelve metre swells to slam through, not needing to tie myself into my bed with a bit of old rope each night is a sure sign of good conditions. We started to see occasional bergs on about the 6th day and slowly the amount of ice increased until we were in the thick of it, none of it quite as bad as two years ago though when we spent twenty two days trying to crack through two metre thick sea ice to get to Davis station, in comparison this was a doddle.
Another triumph for this voyage was the fact that there were only twenty eight expeditioners – Let’s be blunt, nobody wants to miss Christmas and New Year at home so the usual number of around ninety PAX onboard will be greatly reduced at this time of year….However, one advantage of that is that you get a cabin all to yourself, a cabin that’s normally shared by three…Now for that alone It’s been great and I would say is one of the best voyages I’ve been on to date, everyone was really relaxed.
It was strangely familiar to see Casey, and in the same way strangely different…The systems are the same at different stations, the Ops building is yellow, the RMU’s are Blue, the Green store is, well, it’s green…There’s the sat dome, the Hagglands and all the familiar vehicles etc…..But they’re all in a different place, so you know what they are, what they do but, sort of don’t know where they all are. The main accommodation building is the red shed which I kind of liked, it’s got a good layout and everything is under the one roof unlike Davis which has some Summer accommodation outside which would change the dynamics of it all – I was only there for all of a day ashore anyway before heading back to the ship so it was a quick chance to catch up with old friends who are working there this Summer which was great.
But I’m back now, and the ship has sailed again for V3 which is the Marine science voyage which seems to last forever….and has lots of people on board…..which is more than one person to a cabin…..Eeeeeewwww, no thanks, I’ve obviously been spoiled J
On a sad note it was unfortunate to see the loss of one of the great heli pilots Dave Woods at Davis this year due to an accident during a helicopter refueling op, no doubt a shock to his family and especially those Summering / Wintering at Davis this year – Dave will be sorely missed.
I’ve applied for another SCTO position for the forthcoming intake this year (commencing July / Aug 2016) but we’ll see how that pays out, politics and other factors may get in the way…I have a lot of other things lined up this year too which is going to keep me busy & travelling frequently…Will update with the next chapter (which I’m currently starting tomorrow J) soon…