As it gets darker at Davis we eat cupcakes to raise awareness about MS, some of us take a trip to Bandits Hut, and we look for and find quads deployed during the summer

Kiss goodbye to MS smoko

Here at Davis we decided to jump on board when we heard about a charity event to raise awareness for MS (multiple sclerosis) — sadly an illness that affects many and without a cure as yet.

On Tuesday the boys and girls at Davis got out their toys and got to work in making our ‘smoko’ something slightly different from our norm!

A couple of Häggs (the motorised kind), a Hägglunds trailer to use for the dining table, some big red lips for the banner, red food colour for the lips on ice, red lights so we wouldn’t get lost, red balloons just ‘cause we can. Then there were the Jaffa cupcakes, toasties, sausage rolls and the all-important coffee and tea.

We gathered round in our big red coats and enjoyed our picnic smoko on the beach…

Lesley Eccles

Weekend at Bandits

It was the first time Brett, Vas, Darren, Dave and myself had been able to get off station since the sea ice had opened. We were all very much looking forward to it, Darren maybe a little too much as when we were leaving station he bogged himself good and proper in the tide crack — in full view of Ali and Lesley watching the departure in the Living Quarters mess!

Departing after morning tea on Friday, the sun finally was high enough so we could see without the need for headlights. The five of us slowly made our way in the −23°C temperature to Bandits Hut, the most easterly field hut in the recreation area.

Only four bunks but with a bed on the floor made five. Vas supplied the ‘survival’ food for the journey and Dave supplied the new card game, which proved to take up much of our time as we relaxed. In the field the noises are only those you make yourself, no hum of generators, no footsteps past your bedroom door, only those we make.

It wasn’t all recreation though. We did have a couple of jobs we needed to do while out there. On Friday Dave checked the communications and an antenna needed to be replaced on the VHF radio. On Saturday we departed at first light to drill another section of sea ice for thickness to confirm a safe route for travel. It did get a little cooler out there at −25°C and the visors on our helmets were freezing. Traveling with them open became the only way to enable us to see, but it had its drawbacks as you can see in the pictures. On Sunday we arrived home for a well earned three minute shower!

Searching for the quads

Each year, part of our training after we first arrive as the wintering crew is to be field travel trained.

This year we had three winter crew come in later in the summer and one late change of personnel who were required to carry out the training without the sea ice. This entailed helicopter sling loading five quads (one for each person and one for the trainer) to the base of the plateau so they would be able to complete the training for the coming winter. Unfortunately things do not always go to plan and the training was not completed at that time, and there was not time to retrieve the quads or any way to access them until the sea ice came back.

Last week Dave and I went for a trip to drill the sea ice and find our missing quads to check up on them. We stayed overnight at Bandits Hut after drilling the sea ice for most of the daylight hours (all four of them) and getting to the hut just after 2:30pm. We timed the arrival to Bandits perfectly, as if we had arrived any later the king high tide would have stopped us from making it onto the land.

The following day we set out to find the quads. It was a bit windy and cold but nothing we weren’t prepared for. We made it to the quads, GPS marked them and checked on their condition for a later retrieval. Bar a couple of flat tyres they were not that buried in snow and all of them started relatively easily.

With our mission successful we headed back to station, drilling a a few more sea ice measurements on the way.