Something you might not think about every day is clearing snow. This is how we do it at Davis.
This week at Davis: 18 September 2015
It flows downhill
There are two things you need to know to make it as a plumber: pay day is Thursday and water flows downhill. The idea is to keep the water flowing downhill to keep getting paid. When something threatens to stop gravity it is in everyone’s best interest to get on top of the problem.
This week we've had a fault with the electric heat trace on the sewer outfall line. The heat trace is designed to keep the pipe warm enough to stop any liquid freezing, so when issues were detected with this cable we knew we had to rectify it. Of course the problematic section was in a culvert under the road, so the call went out to Scott to get the excavator with the rock hammer to remove the layer of frozen rock and dirt from the culvert lids.
While Dave B and Chris were giving Scott a hand Davo, Ducky and Brendan were preparing the new pipe lengths. Once the rock, dirt and lids were removed it was up to the plumbers to cut in to the insulation to allow the sparkies to disconnect the troublesome heat trace before the heroes of the story stepped back in to cut out the old pipe and install the new.
Water was able to flow downhill again, and there was much rejoicing. Ducky was so excited he decided to warm himself by cuddling the living quarters building, with his face. After some minor tidy up work the culvert lids will be replaced and the road reinstated
Better luck next time. Rauer’s traverse
Around 0730 last Thursday morning, the first of two groups departed Davis bound for the Rauers, an island group to the south of station. Undertaken most winter seasons, the trip involves a journey across the sea ice heading north of station along the same waypoint line as used to access the plateau ski landing area of Woop Woop. From there the team traverses across the Sørsdal glacier before making their way down onto the sea ice to the east of the Rauers. On this occasion the plan was for each team to spend three days exploring, undertaking some hut and camera maintenance activities, and generally enjoying the scenery. The trip has value for the Australian Antarctic Division as it is an opportunity to check the field huts and science project equipment located at the Rauers while also maintaining the resources and skill sets required as part of a traverse capability.
But like any plan down here, it is subject to change, and subject to circumstances out of our control. Having left the station, the team proceeded up to the plateau and made it as far as the third waypoint on the Rauers traverse line before the lead Hägglunds oversnow vehicle suffered a show stopping mechanical fault. The team, led by our mechanical supervisor, responded well. Some worked to diagnose the fault, others prepped equipment to respond, and others arranged a refuge with warmth and food in the event we were stopped for an extended period. As it happened, we weren’t.
The nature of the fault meant the Rauer’s trip would have to be postponed and it was time to limp the Hägg back to station with as little strain on it as possible. This meant removing the sled with non-essential equipment and securing it with ice anchors to be retrieved at a later date. Looking for the quickest route back, the team moved to inspect the ramp off the plateau at Breid Basin. With the Hägg idling a safe distance away, members of the SAR technical team cautiously inspected the ramp before deciding it was not suitable for our descent. Instead, we returned the way we came, arriving back on station around dinner time to find hot meals put aside and plenty of helping hands.
It’s the second team’s turn to try later this week and we’re wishing them better luck!
A tea party at Rookery Lake
Recently, Ducky G and myself seized the opportunity of a glorious Saturday afternoon at Davis to head out on quad bikes to explore the nearby icebergs and take afternoon tea at Rookery Lake apple. We set off from station onto the sea ice and headed north. Visiting the apple at Rookery Lake (small round, red field hut) brought back memories for the both us, as Rookery Lake was the first field hut we visited when we were completing our field training after first arriving in Antarctica some ten months ago. Perusing the field hut log [as we waited for our scones and tea to cool] we noted that nobody had been back since.
From the apple we continued north and within half an hour we found ourselves surrounded by icebergs in every direction, a spectacular sight indeed! After an hour or so of exploring it was time to head home, just in time to put on our nicest clothes ready for our regular semi-formal Davis Saturday night dinner. This was quite a contrast from where we had spent the afternoon, however it topped off a very memorable afternoon [tea] for the both of us.
Aaron C (With some creative input from station editorial staff)
Davo how many trips (and years) have you done to Antarctica? And what keeps bringing you back here?
Four summers and this winter. Usually the Aurora Australis, though I have flown in to Casey, once. I love the vastness and the big sky.
Doc: Seems to be a fairly common interpretation of this question. Maybe I need to rephrase it.
What is it like being a tradie here and how is it going being the plumbing apprentice? (Do they send you out with a list for smoko*?)
Well, during the summer, it can be hectic at times. During the winter it can be busy, or not, depending on how busy you are, or not…I’ll get Mr Brett to draw a flowchart to explain it better. As to being the apprentice, well they’re slowly learning how I like things to be, and I usually give them the list of what I want for smoko.
Doc: Yes Davo, things down here can appear to follow a very complicated algorithm.
If not a tradie what job would you do Davo?
An electri…oops, um well, I know I’ll get flamed for this but, Met Observer. Yeah. That’s the ticket. Feet up, sittin’ up the back of the bus smilin’ away…
Best gig as a tradie Davo?
In Antarctica? Hmm. That period of time, just after resupply.
Best experience in Antarctica?
Probably the first off-station trip I ever did. First time down, first afternoon ashore, late afternoon trip to the Sørsdal Glacier in a Hägg. Clear skies, lots of colour as the sun dipped below the horizon, penguins, seals, birds and a huge wall of ice.
Who inspires you?
The WW2 generation. My grandparents.
Doc: Yes, they certainly lived through tough times
What have you learned living in a small community?
Keep your mouth shut and don’t get caught.
Doc: Now Davo, whatever do you mean? I just cannot imagine you doing anything that you might get a comfy chair for!
If you were a car, what car would you be?
Landcruiser trayback mid-eighties HJ47. Anyone who’s ever owned and used/relied on one will know why.
What is the ‘must have’ item that you packed for Antarctica?
A sense of humour and patience.
If you could be someone else, who would it be?
Tricky questions huh? Maybe Chuck Yeager or one of his later (recent?) contemporaries.
Davo if you had a year to travel anywhere, where would you go?
The Nordic countries, Alaska, Canada and I’ve always wanted to check out places like Pompeii and such.
DOC: Goodness Davo! Haven’t you had enough of snow and ice for a while? Although I guess that summer would be quite nice, and seeing walruses and puffins would be cool and you can get very nice shoes and handbags in Italy.
What is in store when you return to home?
Hmm. Kitchen reno and more bloody work I expect.
Well Davo. It looks like there might be a career change for you. Brickie, plumber, sparkie, met observer, so many to choose! It takes me forever to fill in just one job application. It’s going to take days if you throw your hat in the ring for all of those. Now that I think about it, why don’t you try out for The Block? You would be awesome.
*smoko is a special cooked breakfast.