This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 11 April 2014

Completion of changeover and departure of 2013 expeditioners.

Late last week we completed our station resupply, refuelling, station crew changeover, and station handover to the incoming crew, after which the outgoing expeditioners departed on the LARCs. With them they took some special cargo, the 11 rabbit and rodent detecting dogs which have been working here with their handlers for up to the last three years.

The refuelling process uses a floating hose connecting the ship in Buckles Bay with the fuel tanks in the fuel farm on the shore. The hose needs to be closely monitored by a crew on shore and crews in zodiac boats to ensure against leaks or spills.

On Thursday night after dinner we held the formal handover of responsibility for the station to the incoming station crew. Outgoing station leader Mark presented incoming station leader Ivor with the symbolic key to the station and his handheld radio. Additionally, TASPAWS ranger in charge Chris and wildlife ranger Mike, representing Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, presented Mark and Ivor, representing the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), with a beautiful plaque in appreciation of AAD’s support and close involvement in the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP). Mark and Ivor both expressed their thanks for the many hours of cold hard work put in by all involved in MIPEP, including the marvellous dogs, and congratulated all on the spectacularly successful outcomes.

a group of expeditioners set up the hose on the beach
The refuelling shore party setting up the ship to shore floating refuelling…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
An expeditioner connects the refuelling hose on the beach
Incoming plant inspector Pete conects the refuelling hose at the shore connection,…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Two expeditioners inspect the refuelling hose connectio
Incoming plant inspector Pete and outgoing PI Lionel inspect the shore point…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
The outgoing station leader and the incoming station leader exchange handheld radios as symbols of running the station
Incoming station leader Ivor accepts the station leader's radio from outgoing SL…
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
Two  rangers present both station leaders with a commemorative plaque
TASPAWS ranger Mike and ranger in charge Chris present Ivor and Mark…
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
The station leader and previous station doctor with the MIPEP plaque
Ivor and previous station doctor James with the MIPEP plaque: both were…
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)
A terrier dog on the beach with gentoo penguins behind
Rodent detector dog Cody enjoying last walk on Macca before going home
(Photo: Meg Mckeown)
A dog handler with 2 dogs
MIPEP dog handler Nancye with MIPEP dogs before departure
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The dogs and LARC crew on a LARC
LARC operators James and Marty supervising the dogs boarding the LARC
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
THe LARC is seen departing with a load of people
The LARC departs with the 2013 wintering crew
(Photo: Barry Becker)
An expeditioner holds a burning flare
The ship is farewelled with life expired boating flares
(Photo: Meg Mckeown)

Changeover of main power house diesel engine

Earlier this week, only a few days after taking over the station, the crew was presented with their first unexpected challenge when one of the two big diesel engines in the main power house (MPH) broke down with no warning. The problem was unable to be fixed on station. Fortunately we hold a spare engine in store, but the MPH lacks a lifting system to lift out the approximately one tonne engine and lift the replacement back in. Our trades crew had to then work out a method of doing so from scratch. In a classic example of Antarctic tradies rising to the challenge and surmounting difficulties, plant inspector Pete and his colleagues designed and constructed in a day - from scratch - a lifting gantry, and next day the job was completed safely.
Four expeditioners supervise lifting engine
The diesel engine is lifted on the gantry and slung onto a…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners disconnect the lifting slings from the engine
Plant inspector Pete and building services supervisor Graeme disconnect the lifting slings
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
The JCB handler lifts and moves the engine
Paul lifts the engine out to remove to the store with the…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)

Commencement of field training

One of the first tasks for the incoming crew was to complete their subantarctic field and survival training so we can travel into the field for work or recreational purposes. Our field training officer Ian has a busy few weeks to get this completed with groups of three expeditioners at a time for three days each. He will then commence further training for all in search and rescue (SAR) techniques, so we are fully self-sufficient in this vital function.

Ian is new to Macquarie Island, so for the first lot of training TASPAWS ranger in charge Chris accompanied Ian, with Ivor and Sean along to do their training. We had a stunningly beautiful first day to walk down to Bauer Bay, but the island turned on the windy wet, weather conditions that it is well known for the next day. Ivor got blown off his feet twice (once into a creek): ideal training conditions!

Ivor Harris
Macquarie Island Station Leader 2014

Three expeditioners in the field holding maps
Sean, Ian and Ivor during field training, isthmus in the background on…
(Photo: Chris Howard)
Two expeditioners in the field with lake in background
Sean and Ian at lovely Island Lake during field training
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Expeditioner walking down track into beautiful bay
Sean arrives at Bauer Bay during field training
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
A dead clump of tussock grass is sprouting new leaves
Revegetation on Macca: since revmoval of the rabbits, apparently lifeless clumps of…
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners looking at a pumpkin
Chef Benny and electrician Paul admire the station pumpkin!
(Photo: Ivor Harris)
Two expeditioners smiling on the ship with Macquarie Island in background
Senior weather observer Keon and communications technical officer Ryan were pleased to…
(Photo: Benny Bogusz)