Summer cruising at Macquarie Island

Boating on Macquarie Island

We keep several Zodiac type inflatable rubber boats (IRBs) on Macquarie Island. We use them for trips down island to the field huts to deliver supplies, collect rubbish, move rangers for work purposes, and evacuate casualties back to station in a medical emergency. They are the only form of mechanical transport available here, other than when we have helicopters during resupply periods. Use of the IRBs is subject to stringent weather and wave and ocean swell operating conditions, so given the prevailing conditions here on Macca, we don’t always manage to get a lot of utilisation.

The summer group on station has two fully qualified coxswains, so we got two of our boats out on a rare calm day last week, to carry out a boating induction day for our other “competent crew” members. We enjoyed a memorable day’s boating around the eastern side and northern tip of the island. To make the day’s activity well worthwhile, we collected a large amount of marine debris (a huge pile of rope and an old 200L fuel drum) that had been previously picked up and cached on a difficult to access beach on Wireless Hill near North Head. So a big thanks to our two skilful coxswains (Field Training Officer Rich and Ranger in Charge Chris) and tractor driver Lionel (see below).

A photo below shows one of the typical geological structures here at Macquarie Island. Our geology is unique in that it consists of rock from the Earth’s mantle, deep below the Earth’s crust, that has been lifted out of the ocean by plate tectonic upward movement. The igneous basalt exposed here has formed as lava into multiple pillow shapes each about a metre in diameter. This is seen at many locations and at The Nuggets it is clearly evident.