Thursday, March 29, 2012

49 - Indians in Antarctica and hurry up and wait............for the orange taxi


Well hello once again,

This will be the last post from this ice for this season with only a season wrap up when I get back home. This season my posts have been a little here there and everywhere to say the least but with work commitments and lots of stuff going on at home. Without going into too much detail stuff happens all the time back home, sure the world keeps turning while we are down here and all that. We have mostly good Internet and telephones to call home and that makes us feel in some ways very close to home. HOWEVER when something happens back there and you aren’t able to be there, as little as you can do, you really feel the distance. Something about not being able to be there really drives in the total isolation and helplessness that we have down here. However all that being said without the help of friends that really are a second family getting through those difficult times would be impossible.

The second family came in to help me out this year and several others who were having a difficult time with "stuff" that was happening back home and our Antarctic brotherhood kicked in and we looked after each other. Difficult to explain it to those of you who haven’t ever experienced it but its like the mateship made in the Armed Forces and so in where you really do put your lives in the hands in those around you.

Anyway blah blah it’s been a tuff one on one hand but a brilliant one on the other. Kicked many
goals with much of the work being complete before scheduled and more work complete than was expected. Well oiled management team that was a big one, with my previous seasons the management team although did their jobs well they were new at this whole Antarctic thing. With the experience these two guys brought came an understanding in both the jobs and the crew that couldn’t be in a season no matter the prior experience and background.

The last couple weeks since my last blog has seen mostly clean up and preparing the station for winter. The winter crew this year will have 21 persons staying for another 7-8 months before they see anyone else, lucky buggers, but there will be much work to be done over this time. Atmospheric work will continue with both the German and Australian LIDARS running those times when there is no cloud.

SO in my last weeks here one of the BIG things that i did was visit our Indian neighbours. India has this season semi finished their newest station on the continent called Bharati. I'm now going to plagiarize from myself out of an article I wrote for Icy News with a few modifications in my long winded normal self way!

Bharati is the brand new Indian station 120km to our South-West in the Larsemann Hills but only a short ½ hour chopper ride with our fantabulas Pilots Frank and Dougie. Originally we were meant to go on Sunday for their ‘Grand Opening’ but unfortunately the ‘A’ factor kicked in with the weather turning, giving us some more white stuff and the choppers were grounded. So Monday the
weather cleared and we had the opportunity to visit our Indian neighbours.

Pic Michael Goldstein.

Pic taken on the way to Bharati of the Sorsdal Glassier and its beautiful crevasses!!

Pic Cliff Simpson Davis

Dougalass our fearless plant operator in the skies!

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Cliff aka Rowdy looking cool with his long locks.............

Pic Cliff Simpson Davis

Nick holding back his excitement but concentrating on the backs of his eye lids!!

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Good pic of bridged crevasses above and below a couple more of the wondrous sights seen on the way there.

Pic Michael Goldstein 

 Pic Michael Goldstein

On the way there we passed close to the Russian and Chinese stations and up on the plateau there was a line of their traverse caravans. I'm not too sure weather it was the Chinese or the Russians but impressive none the less.

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Pic Michael Goldstein

On approach to land, you are confronted by something that could mistake for something from the movie Space Odyssey with a very space ship style building. The station has been built from the ground up this season - the only thing done last season was the footings. The station was made out of prefabricated 20’ shipping containers meaning that a majority of the work could be done back in civilization. The new station will summer up to 47 expeditioners with a winter crew of 12. In the background on one of the pics you’ll see their Russian supply ship, the MV Ivan Papanin, with her 18m draft only 25m from shore. Their harbour is nice and deep at 300m.

Pic Michael Goldstein

She almost looks grounded doesn't she but no just very deep water very close. You may also notice the barge on the beach. They were madly trying to load up to get out of there.

 Pic Michael Goldstein
Like a space ship right!!

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Cliff in front of the building as they were still madly finishing loading and working on the building!!

 Pic Michael Goldstein

One of the entries into the building/mothership!

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Nice and shinny new labs.............

 Pic Michael Goldstein

With a view that you couldn't get board of...............

Pic Michael Goldstein

 Walking around the pre-heated walkway between the building itself and the outside. This part was heated to make it easier to keep the inside at a sweltering 25c...........

Pic Michael Goldstein

The Australian expeditionars and the first Indian Wintering station leader and a couple of his deputy.....

On the way home I was able to get some good pics of the station and how quickly it has iced up. Wont be long now and they will be out walking in it............

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Home for the last while and already missing it and i haven't gone yet!

Pic Michael Goldstein

Station in the foreground and the Sorsdal Glassier in the far background...........

So we are now in the home stretch............the ship is now coming through the pack ice less than 100mni from station and we should be starting cargo opps tomorrow in order to start our long trip home. As per normal it’s a emotional rollacoaster of a ride but one that money just can’t buy a seat on AND I LOVE IT. This isn't a job that anyone can do, takes a special type of person and in talking to one expeditioner before coming down this season told me. First time you come down for the experience, second for the money and the third because you don't fit in anywhere else. Don't know if that is exactly true but sounds good none the less.

Before we leave we have to do one thing that wasn't initially planned at the beginning of the season. We need to change the Station Leader out from Mawson. So this is going to happen one of 15 ways but somehow we will get him there how long its going to take I nor the gods themselves haven't made their minds up, but it will happen. Then off to Casey to pick up their Summer tradies included some really good mates, then homeward bound well, Hobart anyway.

While I’m on the ship same as on the way down I’m not going to have access to Internet so posting on my blog is impossible. SO if your interested following my travels there is lots of info can found on the AAD web site.

SITREPS or Situation reports which are what we are doing and the current weather conditions are available by going HERE and clicking on the last number along with a map showing where the ship physically is in the Southern Ocean by clicking HERE. There is also a web cam on the ship which you can see that by going HERE.

Was just trolling the Internet and found an interesting article about our friends over at Casey that we are soon to be picking up. Namely one in particular of the four mentioned in the article, Johan Mets. These guys and Johan did a marathon..............sorry ill correct myself these CRAZY guys as we already knew that Johan was crazy did a marathon from the Plateau down to Casey have a look at the article HERE.

If your missing my blogs you could also have a look through some of the Divisions photos they have online HERE.

Or have a look at an article on Mawson and his men HERE.

Or wait till I’m back and you’ll get one lucky last entry before I take a well earned break from blogging for another season. Lots to do when I get home, lots............and now only just today am I now getting excited about going but as I mentioned before I’m also a little sad about going. 

So am looking forward to catch up with as many of you as I can before my next adventure takes me who know where!!

Take care and bye for now................

Michael

P.S. with a little bit of a nautical theme.................“Twenty years from now you will be more
                                                                             disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by 
                                                                             the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail
                                                                             away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in
                                                                             your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
                                                                             Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

48 - A weekend at Bandits


Hello Friends,

well we are currently in the closing stages of the 65 ANARE/ 2011-12 Summer season. The Aurora Australis AKA the orange taxi is 400nmi from Hobart on its way beck in from a successful resupply at /Mawson (Short story on that resupply clihk HERE). Saturday 17/03/12 in theory it should be departing on V5 which will be a Summer expositionars pick up for both Davis and Casey. Takes about 10-12 days go get here then after a loading up we should be a 5-7 day sail to Casey and a further 7-8 days to Hobart. Now notice that I mentioned "in theory" as nothing goes like you think it dose down here. As i mentioned last season its the "A (Antarctic) Factor", take last season for example. On their way to pick up the summerers from here the ship was beset (stuck fast) in ice for 4 days in a blizzard sooooooo it will happen when it happens.

Now onto a little bit of more meaty stuff........The weekend before last a group including Rowdy, Horse, Baker and myself went to a field hut called Bandits. Below is a little video from that weekend..................Enjoy!

video
Video Michael Goldstein

Here are a few pics from the Video.......................Below from left to right you have Mark "Barry Gibb" Baker, Davis "Horse' Barringhaus, Cliff "Rowdy" Simpson-Davis and me.

 Pic Michael Goldstein

The view over Bandits hut with the grounded ice bergs in the background. Bandits is a small island and as you would have noticed from the video that the mode of transport we got there in was a chopper. Well over summer and until the sea ice freezes again that is the only way other than a IRB.

  Pic Michael Goldstein

The island is made up of this black rock that has been eroded into these beautiful almost sculptor type formations.
  Pic Michael Goldstein

A rather grumpy Adelie penguin going through his molt. Adelies go through this after their breeding season where they totally replace all their feathers. They have quite alot too, about 100 per square inch so as you can imagine when they loose them there are feathers flying everywhere. The molt normally takes about 15-25 days and they are grumpy as hell. Think it might be because they are self conscious at that time.............................more interesting info on Adelies can be found HERE

  Pic Michael Goldstein

A Snow Petrel hiding in a crack. These guys are one of the most beautiful birds to watch flying around..........have a look HERE there is a link to more info and a little video.

 Pic Michael Goldstein

Lately we have been getting some wicked light shows. No Pink Floyd isn't playing down here its the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis. Have a look at how wicked this looks!

video
Video Michael Goldstein

While trolling the Internet this week a couple videos were the first one is of a iceberg implosion. I found this one one ninemsn but here its off youtube..............pretty self explanatory as to why we keep out distances when you see this one!!!

This one is very interesting of what can and dose happen under the ice down here...............

The last little link I wanted to add before I slowly wind up was about a massive Algal bloom that is happening down here currently. So big that if you have a look at THIS LINK that the bloom can be seen from space. I happened to be spotted at the same time as the ship was heading home from the Mawson resupply so they diverted to go and get some samples from the bloom for analysis. Digressing for a moment but we have a team here studying the Elephant Seals on station. Part of what they do is put trackers on them which last about 12 months. One of the Ele seals has been tracked and spent alot of time in this Algal bloom area so it must be very rich in food but more info will come out one the samples have been analyzed i guess.

Talking about Elephant seals i got up early well i couldn't seep to be honest so i went out and took some pics of the sunrise and the big fellas here they are...........

Winter is definitely almost upon is with the water very quickly in the last week or so turning into pancake ice but yet so amazing to see with sunrise and ice bergs as a back drop.

Pic Michael Goldstein 
The ice.............
Pic Michael Goldstein 
Two of the little fellas having a bit of a play fight. You will notice they both have boxes on their heads with antennas on them. These are the trackers i was talking about.
Pic Michael Goldstein 

Cold nup they seem to love it even if they do have to break the ice to get in!!
Pic Michael Goldstein 

This one was falling asleep in there..............

Pic Michael Goldstein 

Anyway hope you enjoyed this blog. Got some interesting things happening over the next week of so and as time quickly runs out on this season so is the work. I will probably only get one more blog in from the ice but I'm sure it will be a good one......................

So until then be good,

Michael

P.S............. "Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what
                 you know."
                 Jim Rohn

P.S.S............Just got back in from outside and its rockin out there here is a couple I just took........
 Pic Michael Goldstein

 Pic Michael Goldstein