Sea ice drilling

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This week at Davis: 5 April 2013

With the sea ice formed in and around station, the time came to do the first drill of the year. All on station are now eager to get out and amongst the Antarctic wilderness from the safety and comfort of either a quad bike or the relative comfort of one of the specialised Hagglunds on station. But the question was raised, who would be the sacrificial lamb to first set foot on the sea of ice to test its thickness? When the question was asked it was none other than the Dieso Jeff who bravely stepped up to the plate to be the first man ever at Davis station to walk on water (this year away). Jeff went to get changed into a submersion suit in the -25 temperature, a sight to be seen as it was truly as if he was racing superman with the speed at which he did the costume change (it’s funny how fast you can move to get warm clothes on when the thermometer is threatening to burst the bottom bulb due to excess mercury still within it). With Jeff now changed into the submersion suit, it was time to assemble the Rescue Alive raft (a new safety toy for the station) and tie on the survival lines to the brave soul who must have been having second thoughts about what he had nominated himself for. Jeff was now secured safely to the land by a thin 13mm rope being held by some very cold, yet excited, people on the shore putting his fate in their hands should the sea ice break through.

Jeff eased his way down the bank to the spot where water once flowed and courageously took another step into the unchartered ice cube that was once a sea. All on shore were watching with excitement and concern for our much loved dieso as he cautiously made his way 60 meters from the safety of the land. It came time to do the task so he stepped out bravely. Then, out came the power drill, as did the ice auger, and the first ice drilling at Davis station for 2013 commenced.

After what seemed like a very short time with the drill, out came the trusty tape measure on a string and the measurement was taken. Jason the station leader called out to Jeff for the measurement for his records and to ascertain if it was safe to continue with the drill a little further out from the shore. Jeff called back to Jason with the figure 42 causing much nervousness on the shore with the ice only being 42mm so back to safety Jeff came. When Jeff made it back to shore, he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about and said he felt quiet safe standing on 42cm of ice, so out he went once more. (Much laughter was had at a few muttered words: only curtain makers work in centimetres)  

Jeff ready to go onto the ice with the Rescue Alive unit with his fellow expeditioners standing around him
The sacrificial lamb
(Photo: Gavin H-T)
Jeff moving onto the ice walking in the middle of the Rescue Alive unit
Let the drilling commence
(Photo: Gavin H-T)
Close up photo of Jeff’s face with his frozen eyebrows and beard
Told ya it was cold out there
(Photo: Gavin H-T)
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