Boats and Bergs..

my company The news came over the radio that the Aurora had blitzed across the Southern Ocean and was making speedy headway through the sea ice, due to arrive in the Newcombe Bay on Friday night. Weather permitting the resupply was to begin 24hrs earlier than expected. Unlike other stations Casey cannot be directly accessed by the Ship, therefore she had to moore out in the bay where 500 tonnes of cargo including a 27 tonne Excavator where to be carried in by Barge.

The Aurora moored in Newcombe Bay

buy Seroquel canada The Aurora moored in a glowing Pink Newcombe Bay

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The Weather plays the major factor during this period, winds over 30 knots stop all Barge work and a forecast of unsteady weather prevents the Bulk fuel transfer of 840,000L of Antarctic Blend Diesel (non-freeze) from being undertaken. This process consists of a high pressure floating hose pumping Diesel across the water and up the hill to both of the stations Fuel Farms, the line is constantly monitored for the 30hr refuelling period by IRB (rubber ducky) or on foot. This is a very crucial and sensitive operation as a burst pipe could result in a catastrophic disaster, so all precautions and safety measures are taken to make sure not a drop is spilled. This diesel will supply the station for the entire year.

Clearing the ice for the barge

Clearing the ice for the barge

Running out ice lines

Running out ice lines

 

Rising for work at 3am each morning I was greeted by luminescent pink Icebergs glowing on the Horizon while we drove down the dirt track towards the Wharf, such a perfect way to start to the day. We where on shift and I was assigned to the Wharf Crew. In between card games and Coffees whilst waiting for the Barge to run its round trips, we unloaded containers of supplies and machinery off the Barge.

Smoko at the Wharf

Smoko at the Wharf

The Boys on the Wharf crew

The Boys on the Wharf crew

Cleaning a Hagglund before being returned to Australia

Cleaning a Hagglund before being returned to Australia

 

Sunday brought Day 9 and the end of Resupply. As the Aurora powered out of Newcombe Bay that afternoon we stood on the Helipad out front of the Redshed and let off handfuls of Flares into the air in Celebration of a successful resupply. In previous years this process has taken over 2 weeks due to poor weather so we where all pretty happy it had run so smoothy. The Ship now turns its focus to research, its currently sitting off a large Glacier up the coast where a team of Scientists on board will carry out experiments before returning home next month.

The 3 Musketeers

The 3 Musketeers

 

Monday was announced a Station Lay-day and Berg Cruises in the IRB’s where on offer. The weather was sunny and perfectly still at 7pm when we motored out to ‘Iceberg Alley’ where there are hundreds of Bergs that have become beached on shallow reefs after breaking off a nearly Glacier, some of them standing over 30m tall (these are just baby’s).

Ice Stern

Ice Stern

The Cathedral Berg

The Cathedral Berg

Magic Day on the Water

Magic Day on the Water

 

All around Parcels of Penguins where fishing and lazing on chunks of floating ice enjoying the calm afternoon. Some of these Bergs had been there for years stuck in the same spot slowly weathering away producing incredible shapes and colours, one of the most popular is called the Cathedral Berg which surely lived up to its name.

Electric Blue Berg

Electric Blue Berg

 

Dinner time!

Dinner time!

 

Yesterday I enjoyed my first White Christmas Day and it shaped up to be an awesome one!  Santa arrived on his Sleigh and handed out all the gifts for everyone, then we dug into an amazing Aussie Christmas feast scoffing down mountains of Prawns, Oysters and Crays, it really felt like home.Today Im lazing around station before 8 of us head out to Wilkes station for the night, an abandoned American Base nearby.

Santa and his Elves

Santa and his Elves

 

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From Casey Station Antarctica have a fun and safe festive season! Ill be keeping you posted on life down South and some insight into the reasons why we are actually here? Merry Christmas!!..

Happy Feet..

Come Monday the weather had eased and we were given the go ahead to complete our survival training. This involved learning basic navigational skills, Sea Ice testing, Cooking and Sleeping in the snow for 24hrs. We set out with backpacks stocked with Ice axes, freezer dried food packs (looks like dog food but tastes pretty good!), sleeping and bivvy bags, compass, maps and the necessary pee bottle and poo bags.Nothing Foreign in Antarctica is to be introduced into the Environment, this means that everything you take in must come out, including all Human waste. Even spilling Coffee or Milk on the Ice must be scooped up and taken away.

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Spending a night on the snow proved to more difficult than expected. For starters it never gets dark, you can get quite sunburnt at 3am. We also had to sleep in a waterproof bag called a Bivvy. Watching the rest of my team attempt to get changed and setup there sleeping bags whilst inside the Bivvy was hilarious!

11.30pm...the crew getting ready for bed!

11.30pm…the crew getting ready for bed!

 

 

Late night trek

Thunderstruck!!

 

We Ventured over to Shirley Island which lies around 2km from Casey Station. This Island can be accessed over the Sea Ice for most of the year but during the peak of Summer the Ice breaks out cutting access to the island by foot. Its imperative to test the thickness and quality of the ice every time you cross, a fall into the -1.8 degree water can easily lead to hyperthermia or death in just minutes. Testing is carried out with a hand held orga and the results are taken back to station and written up on a whiteboard for other expeditioners to see. On our first trip over the Ice was 165cm thick with 50cm of quality ice on top, I travelled there again yesterday and the ice was the same thickness, yet the entirety was poor and rotting. By next week the Ice may be closed for access.

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The island is home to a rookery of Adelie Penguins. These inquisitive, cheeky little characters live here year round waddling up and down the rocky hills collecting fish and returning to there nests. These nests are situated on the summit of each hill on the Island and are constructed out of small pebbles. The Adelies are often caught stealing pebbles from each other’s nests and scuttling away frantically with the loot for there own beds. Its currently breeding season so many nests are occupied with an Adelie incubating an egg wedged nicely under there plump little Tummys.

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Happy Feet!

 

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Rotating the egg

 

Skewers fly over head and loiter around waiting for an unsuspecting Penguin to expose an egg. At the sign of an opportunity the Skewers race in and attempt to snatch the egg out from under the Parent. We watched as the Predators burrowed in under a Nesting Penguin forcing it off its nest and stealing a meal. Once the surviving eggs have hatched the chicks become even easier prey for the Skewers, The Adelie Adults must be on high alert to protect there young.

A Skewer scouting for eggs

A Skewer scouting for eggs 

 

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On Friday we drove a Hagglund up to Wilkins Aerodrome to knock out a few jobs. Wilkins is situated on an icy desert up on the plateau. It is a remote location camp that is home to 8 men who build and maintain the 3.2km runway, the ice here is 700m thick. We scored perfect weather and spent 2 days a top a double storey container surrounded by blue skies and a vast white blanket as far as the eye can see. We got home late Saturday afternoon in time for a Romanian themed dinner and to rock out to the station band, the ‘Meltdowns”. The party then flared into the early hours of the Morning!

The work truck on the way to Wilkins

The work truck on the way to Wilkins

 

Wilkins Aerodrome

Wilkins Aerodrome

 

This coming weekend will bring the beginning of resupply. The Aurora Australis (Australian Icebreaker) is currently chugging across the Southern Ocean towards us and will hopefully arrive at Casey on Sunday. With the base at record capacity right now and Resupply around the corner, things are shaping up to be a very hectic few weeks.

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