This week at the station
This week at Mawson: 8 March 2013
Mawson is renown for many things, but good boating weather (once summer is over) isn’t one of them. All of us here on station are ‘experts’ when it comes to deciding when would be good times to take the boats out so after constantly pestering Cookie day in day out to let us go, he finally cracked and the rumour spread around station like wildfire: the boats are going out! Due to everyone being well prepared for such an occasion, once the go ahead was given we were dressed, packed and underway in no time. The primary objective was more than a mere recreational trip. We were headed for the Kellas Islands, just to the NNW of station. These two islands were named after Bill Kellas, who wintered at Mawson in 1959-60. Mr Kellas is the late stepfather of our very own Craig H. Bill passed away last month while Craig was travelling on the Aurora Australis to Mawson. Craig has waited patiently for the weather to calm and give him the chance to visit the islands. The trip out was smooth and once the islands were reached, Craig set foot on the larger of the two islands and spent a short time reflecting on his life with his Dad. After taking some photos of the islands and their residents, it was back into the boats. The wind began to pick up and the decision was made to head home. The trip back into the wind left us all covered in ice and shivering, but was enjoyable nonetheless. Here’s hoping we get a few more good days so we can all get out and enjoy the water before it inevitably freezes once again!
Being a tradesman in Antarctica can be challenging and rewarding with a bit of adventure thrown in. The normal work week is somewhat similar to normal life back home as well as being on-call, power house obs, fire team and station duties which are also a normal part of life down here.
Being on call 24/7 is never much fun but I found it can have a bonus. I was called out Saturday morning at 2:30 am to investigate a station power outage. On leaving the red shed (living quarters or LQ) to walk down to the main power house (MPH) we had to stop for a minute because the sky was a mass of colours unlike anything I had seen before. This is known as an aurora and it was by far the most outstanding I have witnessed (not that I've seen too many yet). I'm sure having the station blacked out made it look more impressive. By the time we had the MPH up and going again the aurora had almost disappeared and not a photo taken! Maybe next time.
The photos attached were taken by Keldyn Francis, Mawson's up and coming photographer.
Wandering and wondering
Since the “AA” left Mawson two weeks ago, many days have been spent unpacking cargo from the resupply. Certainly the surgery had its fair share of incoming cargo with 76 boxes unpacked. Old, expired medical stock had to be thrown out to make room on the shelves for the new incoming stock. The old stock had to be sorted and classified into five different categories before it can be RTA’d (returned to Australia for disposal). Three boxes of strange bits and pieces were found amongst the incoming cargo and, when put together, produced an exciting new machine for the surgery. The task was reminiscent of assembling an Ikea product.
This week also saw the 10th anniversary of the commissioning of the wind turbines at Mawson.
The giant jellyfish, which featured in last week’s station news, has moved a little around the Mawson harbour, but it has remained ever-present on our shores. It is enormous, about 1 metre across in size, with thick cordy tentacle which are about 1.5 metres long.
Weddell seals and Adelie penguins remain around the station in considerable numbers. They have been taking advantage of much of the good weather we've been having.
After one day of high winds, frozen seaspray was blown onto rocks on West Arm adding a mystique to Mawson station when viewed from the end of the Arm.
Many expeditioners have been sighted around Mawson this week in various disguises. Who are they?