This week at Macquarie Island: 16 November 2018
This week on Macca we light sparklers, welcome summer expeditioners and reminisce about a snowy winter walk
L'Astrolabe - merci beaucoup!
In this past week we were very pleased to see the arrival of the French icebreaker L’Astrolabe. She arrived in Buckles Bay around 0900 Friday 9th November, keeping station just offshore, without dropping anchors. It was always going to be a short visit.
Weather was standard Macca fare and just too much for locals to get out onto the water (beyond the wind parameters for boating). L’Astrolabe’s Master and crew kindly took over the responsibility of ship/shore transfers, being able to operate in windier conditions than the Macca crews. People and cargo came ashore in a constant flow, using the ship’s RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat).
At the shore end, a line of helping hands in dry suits assisted new arrivals onto the beach and all baggage and cargo into waiting palletised containers.
With all the incoming summer crew ashore, all the Macca freight landed, we sadly bade farewell to the L’Astrolabe at midday Friday. It was indeed a short visit and many thanks to the French Navy – merci beaucoup!
The action continues as new summer expeditioners complete station induction and training sessions, begin their allotted tasks, and familiarise themselves with this great place. Now half the summer crew are down island acquainting themselves with soggy tracks and cosy field huts.
It ends all too soon for some, as the next ship due in a few days will take them away again.
Where's the snow?
One of the most common greetings around the world is 'hello, how are you?' Followed by a comment on the weather. 'Beautiful day, good to see the sunshine, we need some rain etc etc.'
Here on beautiful Macca our weather is usually, wet, windy and cold and all at the same time.
Being a tiny land mass in the middle of the Southern Ocean, we have an extreme maritime climate with nearly always strong westerly winds and around 300 days a year with rain and heavy cloud.
The temperature doesn't vary very much and usually hovers between 3°C to 7°C.
I think for most of us expeditioners, when we do head down here our family and friends think we are going to be snowbound like on the continental bases and they are usually surprised at pictures of us surrounded by greenery. The island gets its nickname of the Green Sponge because of the peaty, wet and soggy soil and the covering of beautiful mosses, lichens and tussocks.
Even though we do have occasional snowfalls it usually only stays on the ground for a day or so or melts straight away. There is nothing nicer than waking up to see a cap of snow up on the plateau. On a recent trip to Green Gorge hut we woke on the morning of departure to a 30 cm blanket of snow down to beach level. The hike back to station certainly became a bit more arduous and the novelty of hiking in knee-deep snow wore off around the 3 hour mark. By the time we arrived home all the snow around station had completely disappeared, leaving the dusting on top for another day or so before the island returned back to the Green Sponge.
Sparklers and marshmallows
Due to a surplus of sparklers here at Macca, we decided to commemorate Guy Fawkes Night with a fire in a barrel supervised by Ranger-in-Charge Chris, toasted gooey marshmallows, sparklers galore, and a handsome guy made by Librarian, DSL and BSS Tim.
Luckily the wind died down, the stars came out, and a stunning aurora played across the heavens.