This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 27 September 2013

A perfect boating day

Last Friday the weather systems lined up to give us a perfect day for boating.

It gave us an opportunity to ‘ship’ various items needed at field huts down the East coast of the island.

The three IRB’s (inflatable rescue boats) were readied early on the day and we had all boats, each with a crew of two, on the water off Landing Beach at 1020. We left the station and headed south over glassy water and calm conditions. Clive and Barry in boat 4546, Mark and Josh in 5350 and Greg and Tony (chef) in 5280.

First stop was landing on the beach at Sandy Bay, just north of the Brothers Point hut. We unloaded plenty of timber for track work onto the beach and then up into the tussock beyond the high tide mark. In the meantime Doc Clive went to the hut to swap over medical supplies. Then Josh and Barry tramped up to the hut carrying a generator and a replacement wind generator. We then brought six sleeping bags and a generator from the hut back to the boats.

The task of walking to and from the hut along the beach and then up the hill to the hut was made all the more difficult because we were wearing thermals, two layers of fleece and all this covered by a thick, heavy dry suit.

We continued south and had a very easy landing at Green Gorge. It was great to see all the wildlife on the beach. While we were there a elephant seal pup was born. We unloaded more gear from the boats, then picked up a couple of items to be delivered to Waterfall Bay.

Soon we were back on the water again heading further south. We landed in a little protected cove about 500 meters north of Waterfall Bay hut. Tony and Barry, loaded with the gear for the hut, wandered up into the tussock and wallow beyond the beach. Some of the wallows were still covered in snow, so on a couple of occasions were up to their thighs in water.

Mark and Greg arrived at the hut not long after. The four of us then had to carry eight bags of dry dog food back to the huts, with each bag weighing around 8kg.

After stowing the dog food on the boats it was decided to continue the journey south as conditions were still perfect. We stopped for lunch about 400 metres offshore from Lusitania Bay.

The weather was still great, so we continued south, rounding Hurd Point then westward along the rugged south coast, around South West Point and up the west coast a little, eventually ending up in the sheltered Caroline Cove.

A short break in Caroline Cove, then we retraced our route along the south coast and up the east coast. The water was still glassy and as we motored parallel to Lusitania Bay we encountered a lone orca, moving slowly in the same direction. What a bonus!
Taken from one of the boats looking across the 'glassy'  water at the escarpment just south of the Nuggets. There is patches of snow on the slopes and the tops are covered in misty cloud
Glassy conditions just south of the Nuggets
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Heading south in perfect conditions - shows two of the boats on the water which is like a mill pond. The boat in the foreground has distorted reflections in the water of the crew - Mark and Josh
Heading south in perfect conditions
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Beach landing at Brothers Point - the three boats on the grey sandy beach with Greg, Mark and Josh tending the boats and Brothers Point hut in the distant background up on a hill that slopes up from the beach
Beach landing at Brothers Point
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Heading for the pot of gold - The red bow of a IRB is in the immediate left foreground with another IRB up ahead heading towards a fog/rainbow. The slopes of the escarpment, shrouded in low cloud and mist, are in the distant right background
Heading for the pot of gold
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Arriving at Green Gorge - the red bow of a boat is in the immediate left foreground while another boat is just about reach the beach in front of Green Gorge hut. There are a couple of elephant seals and dozens of king penguins on the beach, while the escarpment in the background is covered in patchy snow
Arriving at Green Gorge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
The beach at Green Gorge - a lone elephant seal lies on the pebbly beach at Green Gorge. Behind him are several dozen king penguins and behind them is extensive tussock mounds with the partially snow covered escarpment in the background
The beach at Green Gorge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Heading south after leaving Green Gorge - boat 5350 with Mark and Josh is in the foreground with the coast and the partially snow covered escarpment in the background
Heading south after leaving Green Gorge
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Mark and Greg carrying bags of dog food back from Waterfall Bay Hut - they are walking over an area of grass and tussock with some patches of snow and a single tall rock stack behind them. The east coast and rugged slopes of the escarpment are in the distant background
Mark and Greg carrying bags of dog food back form Waterfall Bay…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A view from the boat to Lusitania Bay. The distant beach is populated by thousands of king penguins. The partially snow covered steep slopes of the escarpment rise up from the beach
Lusitania Bay
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
From one of the boats, Hurd Point hut looks very small at the base of the very steep slopes of the southern end of the island
Hurd Point hut at the southern end of the island
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
One of the boats motors along below the steep jagged rocky slopes that rise up directly out of the ocean on the southern coast of Macquarie island
The rugged southern coast of Macquarie island
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Dorsal fin and part of the distinctive white and black back of an orca. The slopes of the escarpment rise up from the coast in the background
Orca off the east coast
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)

The land of the long green leaf

It’s has been over six months now since the first seed was sown and life in hydroponics land has settled down to a regular routine. There were a number of learning curves along the way that caused a few setbacks but we have hopefully got most of them sorted.

Between Patty, Craig and myself, we manage to check the water levels daily and every few days, prune and pollinate. Being a constant ‘summer’ inside the hydro building, once the plants have established themselves, they will just keep growing and growing so regular maintenance is a must.

Lettuce is definitely the number one crop and we normally have plants in all stages of its life cycle to afford a continual supply. Tomatoes and cucumbers come a close second, though due to space limitation new plants can only be grown on a needs basis. Chillies were hard to get going, but with a couple of established trees now producing, their yield is a welcome addition at meal times. Numerous other varieties have been grown with snow peas and silver beet being an irregular extra.

The fresh greens are definitely a welcome supplement in the mess, so fingers crossed everything can keep ticking along smoothly.

By Aaron Tyndall

Lettuce. A close photo of a lettuce seedling with full grown lettuce plants in the background
(Photo: Aaron Tyndall)
A couple of Roma tomatoes hanging from a trellis with Aaron proudly looking on in the background
Roma tomatoes
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A big, red and ripe tomato hangs off the vine which is attached to a trellis. You can see Aaron through a gap in the the leaves
Big red
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A cluster of tomatoes, some red and some green, with the lettuce beds in the background
Full house
(Photo: Aaron Tyndall)
Thriving silver beet in a planter box with sweet pea creepers climbing the trellis behind
Thriving silver beet
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Shows the hydroponics hut with Cucumbers growing in planter boxes on the left of an aisle and tomato plants also in planter boxes, clinging to trellis on the right
Cucumber and tomatoes
(Photo: Aaron Tyndall)
Aaron, with a garden hose in one hand, attending the plants on both sides of the aisle
Aaron tending to his plants
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)

Macca Gallery

In this week's gallery we feature photos of the seals, birds and scenery around the station plus some interesting night time shots during the full moon.

A feather on the grey sandy beach is adorned with large dew drops
Feather with dew
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A lone gentoo penguin strolls across a green grassy slope while a large male elephant seal snoozes on the top of the tussock covered bank above
Taking a stroll
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Night scene illuminated by the full moon. Many stars show up in the sky while the snow capped escarpment is visible under the light of the full moon
Night scene illuminated by the full moon
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Time exposure of weather balloon launch at night - shows the balloon as a lighter band as it is brought out of the balloon shed then the band heads skyward after release. A thin green line (battery light) parallels the balloon streak
Time exposure of weather balloon launch at night
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Elephant seal harem on West Beach - around 40 females, one big bull  and several pup elephant seal lie on the beach. A large number of opportunistic skuas hang around the harem
Elephant seal harem on West Beach.
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A female elephant seal bends over backwards trying to dislodge a skua from her back
Get off!!
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)