Thursday, December 30, 2010

18 Bye bye Aroura Australis, handover and better late than never.........

Hi friends,

the time has come, everyone is shattered and resupply is over. There was a total of some 800,000 L of fuel transferred to shore and  lots of cargo come ashore and lots of RTA (Return to Australia) rubbish leave. Cargo opps and refueling opps are run a two separate operations and last year they didn't run simultaneously. This year we happened to very good weather conditions and were able to. Below is one of the last barge loads going back to the ship before she takes her passengers.


The outgoing winter crew and my friends home are to be heading home on this trip and its a surreal feeling but for them I'm sure it was very different. Last season when i arrived i soon made friends with the outgoing Winters but this season having known them for a year and having been in touch with them via facebook and email over the off season. Ross was here as the PI or Plant Inspector his job was to look after all that i brake and anything diesel powered including the generators. Ross i think was a little happy to be RTAing...........




There was also a couple extra passengers that didn't make the list that looked on...............


Then i think they were going to try their hand at driving the crane................


So as the last barge loads pf cargo and people went over to the ship there i felt a strange feeling very similar to what i felt when I left here last year but this time it wasn't me leaving. Some of the outgoing winters had changed their option from flying home to the ship as we are experiencing rather warm weather as far as Antarctica is concerned anyway. 

Daily we have been getting positive temperatures well only just positive but that is actually quite warm down here. But where the runway is located 70km inland at Wilkins. A brief description of Wilkins, 4km long ice runway. The only moving runway in the world and from what i understand the only blue ice runway meaning build on a glassier. From what i understand one of the things they follow quite closely is the ice temperature. They have senors all over the runway and when the ice reaches above -5c they get surface melt which means that in short the plane cannot land.

Right i explain this for two reasons. Firstly as the plane hasn't been yet and at this point one has been canceled and the other has been post phoned. Some people were flown into Mcmurdo and then picked up by the smaller ski equipped planes. Secondly one of the winters made a fatal mistake of making plans on his RTA which was meant to be before xmass. One of the things learnt from last season you cant make up your mind when you come or leave here Antarctica dose that for you!! So unfortunately he is currently on the ship still some days out of Hobart. LOL

The ship was now ready to leave, lets of a couple blows of its horn and as is it customary when the Aurora Australis leaves all the expitionars wave the ship with the help of flares and smoke flares to wish the safe voyage of all aboard.
All the expeditionars around the Casey street sign............

The Ship now departing the person holding the orange smoke flare is Narelle the outgoing Station Leader saying goodbye to the 63rd ANARE Winter team.

Below i though this was a good one of Narelle also.......................



So the ship finally departed here on Christmas Day and due to the face the a majority of us were feeling pretty darn second hand the usual Christmas Day feast was postponed till Tuesday the 28th

Cliff while we were helping out in the kitchen .....................
video

As usual the Chefs turned it on but before the food there was the late arrival of Santa as he hadn't forgotten us after all.........





 Kenny and I'm not exactly sure what he is doing with his legs but he looks like he is enjoying it..............



Then there were some like Nathan AKA BIG RED than i think Santa though he would sit on his leg!!




As for me well i kinda had my own style..........................


 Then the carolers came on to dazzle us with there lyrics.............and sorry boys they were better than last year!


 Now the food.......................






and that was just to start more kept coming and coming and coming.......................my we ate some food!!!
Paul did another time laps but this time in the Kitchen and it gives you a good idea of what preparation was needed for xmass day!!

video
                                                          Video : Paul Helleman

Paul did another time laps but as there was sooooooo many pictures in that one it is taking some time so ill have to add it at a later time..............

Here me and Rowdy are looking all tarted up i think Cliff too a slightly different approach to doing his hair i used gel to glue the long locks in Cliff shaved and coloured.........he is a different boy isn't he!


 The dinning arrangements..............


 Then the party took off and it was all downhill from there but alot of fun.....Edd and his famous shaker that i think was worn out by the end of the night!!


Think Cliff got the shits with the suit so off it came and a singlet and tinsel is good enough........


Pilots these days i don't know!!



This one speaks for itself.


Well I'm all types out and need to get to bed so this bit will be short.........famous last words from me huh but as another year passes so quickly i think of all the things i have done and all things still waiting to be done but most of all i think of the things i will do and the fun i will have in the year to come.

Dear Friends all the best in the New Year I'm thinking of you all, well not all at once but you know what i mean!
Michael


P.S............."No matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future."
                    Anonymous

Thursday, December 23, 2010

17 RESUPPLY FULL STEAM AHEAD.......

Hi friends,

well I'm guessing that the title sums it up well, been very but smooth resupply. Refueling has now finished with the grand total of around 800,000L of SAB (Special Antarctic Blend) fuel been transferred from ship to shore. 

Refueling is probably the most significant one thing that could damage the environment down here and therefore ALOT of checks and double checks are done to ensure this risk is as small as possible. 3 IRB's (inflatable rescue boats) are deployed to run the line from ship to shore with their two main tasks of looking for leaks and protecting the line from ice bergs.
video

So also the other important job is getting stuff in and out. That's where i come in! This season the division was kind enough to put me through my crane ticket. Worked around them for a number of years and never been in a position to either need one of want to to be honest. Seen too many things happen that put me off wanting to get it. I remember years ago i was working in the bakeries i was driving onto Chevron Island and saw a crane that had hit power lines and was on fire, kinda made me thing. That being said we don't have them here so all is good.
And here i am a fully fledged crane operator, yea i know scary but got one of the BIGGEST complements yesterday. A kiwi rigger, I know Kiwi are everywhere aren't they, well he told me that i was a good operator and he would know as he normally works on the oil rigs dogging big cranes. Head is now big and chest is all puffed up and i am a good operator. Johan had a little fun with the camera again and put in a couple interesting places while he was working the crane. Its a little long but gives a very different perspective on how cargo operations go and right at the end Ken makes an appearance in the IRB on launch at the boat ramp right beside the wharf where the crane is set up.

video
Video : Johan Mets

Here is another one from a different position, Paul put is camera in the Red Shed and made a little time laps of the first day of Cargo opps.

video
Video : Paul Helleman

Another time laps that Paul made was in the Green Store. The Green Store is where alot of thinks including the food are kept and I'm yet to take you on a tour there but as the Storeperson is a little shy i need to find a replacement. Think you see her standing around alot dont know what she dose all day but from this video i think she has some explaining to do. Last season the storeperson worked hard didnt you Mick!!

video
Video : Paul Helleman

The Aurora Australis AKA the orange roughy.....................

 You know with vistas like this it is a little hard to do work sometimes!
 Me in position waiting on a barge to arrive............
 One section of the sled for the skiway which im sure ill be covering in a later blog
 Talking of the skiway they AGSO (Aircraft Ground Support Officers) received a new toy..................not really too recognizable there but it is a snow groumer without the blade!

 Heading up the hill to station.
 Entering wharf road...............there is a little room there.
 A little tighter here...........
 New sticker on the Mack and i bet you didn't know that the Stig was a truck driver in Antarctica..........
 Nice picture of the Station Leader Narelle and Rowdy...............there was another pic but ill save that one to post after the NEW Station Leader has taken over!! LOL
 Rowdy yep he is a Penguin Policeman bet you didnt know we had them down here.......






There i am on the far left having mounted Rowdy as my reindeer with a tinsel reigns. So  it is the festive season, even though at the moment the last 5 days are a blur with resupply and we wont be celebrating our xmass day until a little later as so many of us are shattered. Please have a safe and happy Christmas and i hope Santa will bring you something nice.

Have an egg nog for me!

Michael


P.S..............."People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas
                 and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what
                 they eat between the New Year and Christmas."
                     Unknown


Thursday, December 16, 2010

16 SAR excersizes, bastards and how to get plastered...............

Howdy all,

Starting to get quite busy here in preparation for both the Ship which should be here some time this weekend and the first flight on the Wilkins Runway on Monday the 20th. So in preparation for that flight there were some excercises that needed to be ran which included a SAR. Tuesday it was planned for the SAR (Search and Rescue) exercise up at Wilkins Runway with support from Casey. We didn't know what time, we didn't know what but we knew it was going to happen. So i started the day as i normally telling my trusty BSS (Building Services Supervisor) where to go in no uncertain terms, as he says the day just wouldn't be the same without me telling him that and it makes me feel better too so its win win.

Soon after that i was asked to take over from one of the guys who will be flying from here to Davis shortly station and the location of the job i was doing was at the other end of the station at the wharf AND the SAR alarm goes off. So after a drive up to the station and finding the going a little harder than expected on the permafrost with rubber tyers on the loader i finally made it. Here is a short video of that drive up from the wharf.


video

So after muster in the Red Shed all the names are read out from the "fire board". This is a important board as when you leave station you have to put up your name on this board signifying that you are off station, where you are going, what vehicle you are in, what route you have taken, channel you have you VHF 2 way on and who is in your party.



You'll notice on the second from bottom line i make mention to Rowdy and the bastard that he is well il get to that later.

There is also a slightly different board in the Comms building that basically reads the same. So after it has been found that all the people are accounted for the SAR team was gathered on the Opps building and a plan was formulated. Myself, Rowdy and Terv who you might remember from such videos as the tour of the brew house were chosen to drive a Hagg up the hill to pick up two people who had be apparently injured for our scenario.

Anyhow after the meeting it was a mad rush to get all the necessary gear together for the transport, we had no idea how long our exercise was going to run so we planned ahead packing lunch coffee and all the goodies including the all important Tim Tams! The other guys prepared the Hagg with all the cold weather gear that would be needed for transport someone and by the time they had done that we were ready to go. So loading up our personal survival bags that you don't leave station without, some extra layers and off we went departing station within 30min after the meeting. We ended up making it past A08 which is about 10km off station up the plateau before we got word to turn around the exercise was over. Deciding that we needed a debrief along with some food we stopped up top to admire the view before making our way back.


Now as for the bastards bit, as you all might remember my blog "12 When hell froze over....." it was quite an amazing trip. Well my old mate Cliff AKA Rowdy and is also know now as bastard as he also made it out there last weekend AND not only did he see all that i did but he also got to see Emperor Penguins and a Leopard Seal.............................BASTARD and to make things even worse the Ship Aurora Australis is due in here on Friday night for resupply. Meaning that NOBODY will be allowed anywhere AND the melt has kicked off and i don't think anyone will be making the trip until the cool change at the end of the season now.

The Bastard was kind enough to give me some pics to share though!!

 Pic: Rowdy

Emperor Penguins looks like to adult and one juvenile and Rowdy just couldn't stop rubbing my nose in it!!

 Pic: Rowdy
 Pic: Rowdy
Pic: Rowdy
 Pic: David Barringhaus

An Adelie Penguin just for comparison.

  Pic: David Barringhaus

Clouds over the Vanderford Glacier....................the boys even heard the bits of the Glacier braking off.
 Pic: David Barringhaus

The next picture is a bunch of Adelie Penguins giving the Alpha predatorr in Antarctica a hard time, would have nee interesting to see. Apparently they made the Leopard Seal retreat into the water.

 Pic: Rowdy

Snow Petrel are also nesting everywhere at the moment and you'll normally find them in between the rocks. You'll know when you get too close they let you know!!
Find out more about Petrels HERE!!!!!!!!!
Pic: Rowdy

So all in all i was rather envious about Rowdys trip and after being told about the wildlife they saw i made a bee line to Narelle (Station Leader) to find out if there was time before resupply for me to get out there again. But unfortunately i am FAR TOO important to go off station well I'm sure that what she meant when she told me no and that's my story and I'm sticking to it anyway.

An oportunity came up to get plastered this week and i know its bad to get plastered through the week but the the incoming wintering Doctor Kate was on hand to make sure we were doing it right.

video

Think Tim was having FAR TOO much fun inflicting pain here!!!!

video

Don our ESS (Engineering Services Supervisor AKA tradies boss) getting ready for a arm plaster.


 Think they got a little confused but was going to make it an easy day at work if they had have huh.


Trevor plastering a beer bottle.........................i know he is the wintering CTO (CommunicationsTechnical Officer) and i think its going to be a LOOOOOONG winter isn't it!




All the suckers lined up in a row .............i was the only one to be game enough to do my leg it must be said!


See what happens when you get someone to sign your plaster down here..............



With resupply around the corner its a bit chaotic at the moment with all the different types of containers being moved around and organized for their RTA (Return to Australia). With the ships arrival it is going to change the dynamics on station with many good mates leaving to go home and be with family after their long winter and many new friends arriving. Among them will be the incoming Station Leader Dave, the outgoing Station Leader will be staying on for a little bit until Dave finds his way before the official hand over. Than there is the round trippers that come for science, watercraft operators off the ship or as part of the management of the division.

So next week you'll be getting a blog that will revolve around resupply and for those of you that missed it in my second blog i had a link to the AAD's web site where there is a video and short story about whats involved in a Australian Antarctic Stations resupply.


Well i would say I'm missing all of you and the weather but when i was talking to Mum and Dad tonight Gold Coast was about to get a thunder storm AND besides that I'm having WAY WAY to much fun down here!!

Hope everyone is well, take care

Michael

P.S............"Our five senses are incomplete without the sixth -- a sense of
               humor."
                   Source Unknown