Okay, I’m bundled up to the nines (?!*$!), feel like the Michelin man, look
like the Michelin Man, look like everyone else on this ship. Identikit.
Purple reversible fleecy jacket thing, huge overalls and coat with reflecty
strips, beige steel toecapped fur lined boots (nice), green heavy duty
moleskin trousers, thermals under all of this when it gets colder,gloves,
scarf and hat are still my own in a vague attempt to retain some
individuality. Won’t last though I’m sure. And for recreational gear? We’re
all wearing Ernest Shackleton polo shirts and jeans. A far flung cry from
the world of New York that occupies most of this website I’m sure. Back to
the days of not thinking at all before getting dressed in the morning.
Morning, afternoon, well, whenever you wake up really. Midday today I think
it was. But then, we were partying hard last night. Cabins small, bag
explosion, pity my cabin mates (those of you who know me, know). Random
socks in random pockets. Names written on every piece of clothing. Apple
pie and custard. Bad eighties music. This is school.
Just so you know it’s not all a deep spiritual journey into the last unexplored
wilderness. I mean it is, but it can’t be the whole time. It could be I guess,
but that would actually physically blow my mind into too many pieces to be healthy.
Still recovering from South Georgia I think. We left land
a week ago and boarded the ship a month ago. It’s been great. Yesterday, we
finally crossed the Antarctic Circle. Amazing. A great thick red line painted
across the icebergs with "Welcome to Antarctica" embellished in the
walls. We’ve crossed a ‘polynya’ too which deserves a mention because it truly
is a wonderful word. Affectionately called Pollyanna by those who know her.
A polynya is a huge area of open water that is surrounded by sea ice. So munch,
munch, munch, through the ice for days and suddenly, it’s like being in the
open sea again. Bizarre. Rocky ship, no ice for as far as the eye can see. The
occasional berg ofcourse though. Like being sent back to two weeks ago! We’ve
been probing the sea here too..throwing ‘XBTs’ off the back of the ship to get
temperature/depth profiles. Think there might be a few pics on the latest Shackleton
so have a look at them, makes it look like I’ve been ever so busy on the ship…there’s
even a pic of us circuit training on the after deck!
So what have I been seeing lately? Ice, ice, ice. Floating ice. Ice
floating. Bergs, ice, thick viscous ocean with ice floes floating on it.
It’s magnificent. Not too much wildlife..this will probably increase again
as we approach more solid land/semi- permanent ice. Did I say we saw a
whale after leaving S Georgia? Two of them. Seems like months ago!
The nights are also like day now, there is a vague darkish period around
9pm but the sun hasn’t been seen setting for a while. Magnificent long,
long (hours long) sunsets are a thing of previous latitudes. And next to
come…Halley. Due on christmas day I think but that’ll depend how
difficult it is to crunch through the next lot of ice. Have been having
lots of training sessions on the ship too: first aid, manual handling,
cargo logistics, vehicles (how to start a skidoo), clothes etc. And we’ve
been allocated jobs for the relief when we get to base. That was an
immediate morale booster in the bar. People have a purpose again. Night
shift? Day shift? Driving the snowcat? Tallying boxes? Seaice relief? In
the kitchen? Operating cranes? You could taste excitement in the air. A
24-hour relief operation is about to begin that may take two weeks. We’ll
all be exhausted and very cold. What a change from the luxury of the ship.
Our bodies won’t know what hit them! Back to the sauna now I think…I must
enjoy every luxury while they last!
Happy Christmas to all, especially those in Trafalgar Road. I’ll be
thinking of you, wherever and whatever our operations are that day.xx