The Davis expedition team this week awoke to find the station under a blanket of fresh snow, concealing the brown earth we have grown used to treading over these last months, an indication to all that the end of the summer season is not far away. Amidst the snowfalls our workgroups were as productive as always, pumping water through the reverse osmosis system, painting workshop floors, undertaking asbestos removal from the old living quarters, familiarising themselves with search and rescue equipment, launching science field trips down to Kazak Island and embracing the extraordinary artistic skills of many on station. All the very best from another week at Davis.
This week at Davis: 27 February 2015
Winter is coming…
Last Monday we took a couple of IRBs south to Kazak Island, in the south western corner of the Vestfold Hills. The purpose of the trip was to drop our electronics engineer, Adam, along with FTO James, on the island so Adam could check and download information from both the Automated Weather Station (AWS) and the sea ice monitoring camera installed there. The AWS and camera are recording information for a project that’s measuring changes to the sea ice through the year on the seaward side of the island and the front edge of the spectacular Sørsdal Glacier.
Conditions for boating were ideal with almost nil wind, smooth waters and excellent visibility. Something we haven’t had a lot of this summer. Kazak Island lies just to the north of the Sørsdal Glacier, a prominent feature that marks the southern boundary of the Vestfold Hills and the Davis station operating area. We were fortunate to get great views of the Sørsdal’s 70 m high ice edge from the work site and the boats.
Water for general consumption here at Davis is sourced differently from the other continental stations. Where the other two stations have easy access to melt lakes of fresh water, we have to make ours through a process of reverse osmosis (RO). A small salt water lake (known as a tarn) is the source of our water and this is run through the RO plant.
Water production can generally only occur once the tarn has unfrozen, and must be completed before things get too cold again. During this small window of opportunity this year, the plumbers here, assisted by the electricians as required, have been able to produce in excess of 1.586 million litres. This water is then stored in tanks for use over the coming year.
The old living quarters has been sitting unoccupied here for some time now. One of the reasons for this is that it is known to have asbestos containing materials that need to be removed before any future works can be started.
One of the projects this year has been the construction of an asbestos decontamination container. This has now been put into position and works have commenced. Works are ongoing this week with the idea to get as much done as possible before the ship arrives next summer.
There has been a need for a while now to repaint the floor of the diesel mechanics’ workshop. A nice clean floor helps the team to find any dropped bolts or screws, and assists in locating leaks as the drips of dark oils stand out quite well on a bright yellow floor.
Recently a team set up and completed the job. The diesos were able to schedule their works in such a way that the workshop could be left vehicle free for a couple of days. This allowed some helpers from the infrastructure team to assist with the floor cleaning and painting.
Search and rescue training this week focused on the ‘Rescue Alive’ platform. In the case of an emergency on the sea ice, this piece of equipment enables a rescuer to access the victim in a safe manner. It can also be deployed over open water, or a combination of both. As we currently have no sea ice it was put to the test in the open water, much to the amusement of the local elephant seals wondering what the strange humans were up to this time.
Last Saturday we were treated to the annual ‘Davis Arts and Crafts Exhibition'. This was an opportunity for the artistic, the creative and the flamboyant amongst us to display their creations for all to behold, scrutinise, critique and admire. Entries were only limited by the imagination and there were a wide array of pieces submitted ranging from hi-tech programmable LED lamps to the more traditional sedate arts such as wood carving, leatherwork and pasta pasting.
We were very privileged to have quite the art expert in our midst with our deputy station leader David, who had spent considerable time working on the construction of Hobart’s world renowned art museum MONA. He was able to cast his expert eye over the displays and gave them his seal of approval.
The evening was also an opportunity to dress up and enjoy some of the finer aspects of Antarctic life with a sumptuous spread provided by our chefs, adding to the gala event. The exhibition was a wonderful occasion to showcase the many and varied talents of our current expeditioners here at Davis.
Doc’s Dozen this week with Séamus L — Metal fabricator, Davis jeweller, and ‘Sunday Night Movie Maestro'.
This week it is my pleasure to talk to Séamus, our Irish tradie. Conversation with Séamus is a skill that takes a little while to master, but once you get past the thick Irish brogue you are rewarded with absolute pearls.
Editor’s note: spelling is in alignment with the aforementioned thick Irish brogue.
Séamus, how many trips have you had to Antarctica? What brings you here?
4th summer, see question “What do ya love ‘bout Antarctica”.
What is it like being a metal fabricator (I hope this is correct term) here?
Great, always something to do and it’s up to yaself to make it happen. I like being a tradie. I have enjoyed all the jobs I've been on, some more than others.
Best experience in Antarctica?
A lot of moments I have enjoyed but one in particular was walking from the Antarctic Circle back to Casey station, in the middle of nowhere with no noise or sound, all ya could see was white, but actually there was nothing to see. So, one of my best experiences was seeing nothing.
What do you love about Antarctica?
99 percent of the people want to be here as opposed to most jobs where 95 percent don’t want to be there. When ya have people who want to be somewhere it leads to a good fang sway. (Feng Shui)
What have you learned living in a small community?
Keep ya mouth shut most of the time.
If you were a car, what car would you be?
(Very practical and efficient, Séamus.)
You have a great love of the outdoors here Séamus, what is your favourite walk around Davis?
All good, none in particular.
We all love Séamus’s ‘Sunday Night Romantic Movie’ in the Davis cinema. Are you a true romantic looking for ‘the one’?
We have all admired the jewellery that you make, is this a passion of yours? (Or perhaps a way of impressing the ladies?)
I find it keeps the brain active and there’s a great sense of enjoyment in giving something to someone, especially when they come up with the idea and design themselves. It’s interesting to see what different people like.
Do you think there is a retail opportunity here in Antarctica for you?
Nah, then it would take the fun out of it.
If you could be someone else, who would it be?
Happy with myself. (A very good way to be, Séamus.)
What is in store when you return to home?
Head to Ireland to see my family, visit friends in Tuscany maybe, work and enjoy life.
Thank you so much for sharing with us Séamus. I’m not so sure I agree with your views on love and romance. There are many ladies of Davis delighted with your jewellry work and the ‘Sunday Night Romantic Movie’ is a weekly highlight for many of us who have been bitten by the love bug.