Word on the dusty station streets is that a ship is about to depart Hobart, arrive at Davis in the coming weeks and return the current crew to their natural habitat. You can almost feel the anticipation in the air as everyone talks of their future plans on return to Australia. There is also a hint of anxiety, as we are aware that the world has radically changed since our departure one and a half years ago. It has been an amazing experience and like the majority, I have made the most of my time here in Antarctica. Daily life on station has become so routine it is almost surreal to think that the ship will sail over the horizon soon. We are ready though, it is time to go home!
With our room contents packed into boxes weeks ago, attention has been focussed on preparing the station for the incoming crew. The Met Team has been cleaning the office and balloon shed plus finalising the paperwork in readiness for handover. I am bewildered by the amount of empty space in our storeroom which in late 2019 was filled with cardboard boxes - definitely enough room to swing a moulting penguin in there at the moment (theoretically). When not engaged in BoM stuff the Met crew has relished slushy duties and offered their services elsewhere. Pat has worked feverishly to complete the Year Book, Jen has continued to manufacture Kombucha and wooden clocks, and Rach has been stuck in the void somewhere between DAP and BoM.
Saturday duties have started to incorporate other jobs that don't just involve vacuuming, mopping and cleaning toilets. While a small but dedicated team distributed the many COVID posters around station, Jen and I helped put the station boats together. After a spring clean of the boat shed, assembly commenced only to discover that two out of the three trailers had been damaged by snow build-up over winter, which we had a lot of. Apparently the leaf springs weren’t up for the challenge and snapped under the weight of snow – not a good start. But as they say 'where there is a Will, there is a way' and the amazing Will Kenton had the two trailers fixed in less than 24 hours by making them rigid-axle.
All work and no play would be a bit sad, and a number of the crew have taken the dwindling opportunities to undertake a few recreational trips. A few groups have visited Brookes Hut, with my group also climbing Lied Bluff to take in the great view incorporating all the bays and Long Fjord that we surveyed for seals over the winter. Rach and I also spent a night bivvying under the three visible stars out at the Old Wallow. The Old Wallow was definitely a different experience at night with the 21 transient residents (elephant seals) becoming more active and loud during the night. We kept our distance, but I was too scared to use ear plugs in case a more adventourous seal decided to attempt to crush me in my 10 minutes of sleep that night!
Not long now……………….
Met senior observer