This week at the station
This week at Casey: 10 May 2013
Working in Antarctica
Antarctica is a very different place to work. The climate is challenging at times with temperatures reaching the minus ten degrees regularly. In most cases it’s tolerable but the slightest breeze creates the need to dress for what you are going to do. We have recently had minus twenty degree days, some days reaching as low as minus twenty-five with winds of ten to fifteen knots which limits what you can do outside. As the wind increases, so does the air chill.
This week the temperatures have been warmer at around minus three with snowing but there is a tendency for the wind speeds to increase with higher temperatures, often being above forty knots that blows the loose fresh snow or it is also snowing at the same time. This changes things greatly and can reduce visibility to a few metres. This drives the snow into everything and creates some new challenges and the need for real planning.
These difficult conditions bring a lot of challenges but working closely with my fellow expeditioners, we can over come most of these.
A trip to Wilkes
Wilkes base was one of the first established stations in east Antarctica. Originally it use to be an American base but was later given to Australia. It is one of the most famous and visited recreation huts for Casey station.
Abrar, Doug, Mathew and Michael W. paid a visit to Wilkes a few weeks ago. During winter when there is sufficient sea ice buildup, it is accessible via sea ice route with permission from authorities. The best time to be around Wilkes is during summer when there are a lot of wildlife including penguins, seals and birds.
It is approximately three kilometres from Casey station. Wilkes remains today part of Antarctic heritage. Most of its component huts are now buried to their roofs in ice and snow. The largest of the unburied buildings, the old transmitter hut, has been converted to a field hut (the nearest of five such huts to Casey, and by far the biggest) and is used for recreational visits, and sometimes by field scientists in summer.
Wilkes is quite spacious and can sleep eight with more on the floor if necessary. Pizza and barbecue are pretty famous when staying over at the “Wilkes Hilton”. It also has a darts board! It has a lovely fire place which keeps the place warm and nice as long as the wood is not damp.
Wilkes is so peaceful and has some spectacular sunsets, is a great place to capture an aurora and is definitely a great place to revisit. It revives the pioneer expedition.
This week we have been watching the number one documentary series on station, “Coast”. Its all about the UK coastline and its history, so we thought we would focus on our own coast here for this week's story. Let’s face it, its just about as rocky and cold as the UK coastline, but we have snow!
Thursday night art class is going well. Last week we got paint and pastels out, which is just as messy as charcoal! Some canvas has been stretched over some frames, ready for our masterpieces to be created.
The band has practiced a few songs ready for midwinter celebrations and we hope the spa will be ready for the 21st of June for our dip recovery after our midwinter swim.
The Red Boat and the Red Shed
“The Red boat that was here
Has now gone away
Taken everyone with her,
We’ve been left to stay.
Here for a while,
And we have much to do,
When out in the cold,
Your first layer is food.
So if you wake up,
And the dark day you soon dread,
Some cereal you need, with a bit of toasted bread,
So that you are prepared,
To leave the shed that is Red.”