Midwinter festivities including dinner and a swim.

The midwinter swim – the Doc’s reflections on the event

What possess people to jump into sub-freezing sea water?

What perverse logic it is to welcome the sun god back in this way? It spits in the face of self preservation and common sense, but I love the bravado that says “Come on big boy, is that your best shot?” Of course it isn’t. He is just humouring us as we mark the passing of the solstice.

So, what is required to pull this feat off?

Firstly, timing: the weather gods must smile on you.  As usual, these gods take great delight in trying to foil best laid plans, kind of like booking tickets to the cricket well in advance and having the play washed out on that particular day due to a freak sleet storm in the middle of summer. To thwart the efforts of the weather gods, holding the swim on the day before midwinter at Davis was a master stroke of genius. Ha! Bet they never saw that one coming.

Secondly, you need dedicated swimming hole craftsmen: our team of ice carvers, who are willing and able to play with their Tonka trucks and tools for many hours testing Antarctic conditions, are just the thing for this. Well done! They sculptured a pool of Olympic proportions in a matter of hours, from the dark of night to, well, the dark of night. Such a superb amenity was constructed that it received a visit and blessing from the local Weddell landlord. The last seal seen here was on the 30th April so no higher compliment can be paid.

Naturally, all health and safety precautions were on hand to facilitate resuscitation of the frozen ones if necessary: mobile hot bath, RIMit van with heat and of course, me, the Doc. Other ancillaries included palm tree, galleon for the pool time and lots of onlookers. Costumes varied from the traditional Tony Abbot budgie smugglers, to ‘Ninja Comms’ and a ‘birthday suit'. Our first contestant was Pat (aka Turbo), who took the honours being his birthday!

Again our appreciation must go out to the movers and shakers that made this event memorable.  A great time was had by all, just before the winds picked up and the snow began to fall…

Doc Mal

A toast my friends!

After a flurry of activity in the kitchen and dining room in the afternoon to get everything ready for the main event of the day, it was time adjourn to Nina’s as our two volunteer cocktail party hosts, Rich and Paul, started making up some rather colourful potions (all enjoyed in moderation, of course!). The pair had been resourced with some fresh plateau ice, bucket of mint from hydroponics and other ingredients donated by the crew. There were some very interesting iridescent green drinks in martini glasses, alongside layered red and blue ones and the more traditional mixes for all to try. In honour of the station’s adopted mascot this year — the ‘Blue Koala’ (long story…), the boys were asked to create a drink suitable for the name. They certainly didn’t disappoint!  Charged with glasses in hand, the self appointed MC for the hour, Tim K, took the floor and made the first of the toasts for the evening. — “To the 66th ANARE! Happy midwinter!”  Nice one.

Bob & Mal

Ah, dinner and a show!

Having enjoyed the pre-dinner canapés, cocktails and toasting (to one and all), the crew were called to make the pilgrimage to the dining table for the continuance of the incredible eight course meal created by our resident culinary genius, Rocket. The table layout was superb, with the centrepiece being a collection of hand crafted ice axes every winterer had spent many weekends working on over the last few months. Picking up our axes and moving to our chairs, the dinner commenced in earnest. Images were being sent back to the outside world via our webcam, and it didn’t take too long before we received an image from back home of a midwinter party with our dinner up on the big screen! 

The fine dining was replete with good cheer, great company and lively banter. As the evening matured toward the eleventh hour, the band warming up drew the crowd to the live entertainment end of festivities. With half of the crew being musicians, it was a great to see many swapping instruments, singing and adding to the enjoyment as all were encouraged to ‘have a go!’. It really was ‘dinner & a show’ to remember.

Bob & Mal

Davis midwinter greeting to all!

Finally, from all of us wintering here at Davis, we wish you all a very Happy midwinter! May the rest of the year bring you further wonders and enjoyment as we look toward the 2013–14 summer. May the rest of the year bring you further wonders and enjoyment as we look toward the 2013-14 summer.

The Davis Winter Crew 2013