April - May 2003

30 May 2003

Friday drinks last week at Casey took the form of a "fights night" in the Odeon. "Fight promoter" Tubby G., doing a Don King impersonation, put on an entertaining selection of historic boxing videos. There was a therapeutic release of pent up expeditioner aggression as we vicariously slogged it out with Cassius and Sonny etc.

Fights night at the Odeon at Casey.
Fights night at the Odeon at Casey. May 2003. Photo I. Harris

We were treated to a rare double sundog last Friday morning. The day dawned brilliantly with no wind and airborne ice crystals shimmering in the sunlight. The ice crystals refract the sun's rays at a precise angle of 20 odd degrees, producing the mirages of extra suns at 20 degrees on either side of the real one. We had seen single sundogs on a few occasions, but this was the first double one.

 A clear sundog in centre of shot
A clear sundog in centre of shot, to the left of the real sun at right of frame. (There was another weaker one to the right of the sun.) May 2003. Photo I. Harris

On Saturday morning we did SAR training for GPS/compass/map refresher training, which took the form an entertaining orienteering competition around station limits, organised by SAR leader Andrew T. It was won by Ivor and Ruffy who finished late but were the only people stupid enough to attempt to get the generous bonus points on offer by finding the most novel ways to wear a garbage bag. Regretfully, cameras were not on hand to record the event for posterity.

Drilling and pumping equipment on the upper tarn last week.
Drilling and pumping equipment on the upper tarn last week. May 2003. Photo I. Harris

Our plumbers have been busy trying to tap some valuable extra waters supplies from the top tarn, above the lower tarn where the melt bell is located. We pumped a good yield from it a month ago, which spares the lower tarn till later in the winter and may help us avoid harsh water restrictions. At that time the ice on the surface was a meter thick. Last week we drilled down to 3 meters and still hadn't found clear access to water. There was a little there that only pumped a trickle. Fortunately, we tried again this week in another spot, and inexplicably there was beautiful water only a meter down and the tanks were refilled in a few hours. The process is a continual race against the natural tendency of the water in the pump and hose to freeze once it comes to the surface and hits -20 temperatures.

Simon L. atop the radio mast at Browning hut.
Simon L. atop the radio mast at Browning hut. In the background, Vanderford Glacier and some blue glacier ice in the sea which had broken away overnight. May 2003. Phaoto I. Harris 

On Sunday, four of us went to Browning Peninsula hut for a couple of days. We wanted to inspect the apple on nearby Peterson Island, and Simon L. needed to do some maintenance on the radio mast at the hut.

Frozen lake on Peterson Island.
Frozen lake on Peterson Island. May 2003. Photo I. Harris

The Peterson Island channel was very solidly frozen, but at the northern end in Penney Bay, there was thinner ice near Motherway Island and a pool of open water being determinedly kept open by 3 brave young elephant seals.

This page was last modified on 3 June 2003.