Another Productive Day on the Ice
Last night we remained hove to in the pack ice. It was a beautiful night with a pink sky reflecting on the ice around us. At 8am we were back at the unloading position and the first team went over in the crane basket so that discharging could start afresh. Today, we continued to transfer fuel from drums into the large rubber bladders we call ‘flubbers’. We also unloaded more fuel sledges (scoots) and by the end of the day had filled a further six flubbers. We now have eight full flubbers secured in their scoots and a further two part-filled. So, we have transferred fuel from a total of 320 drums. Only 240 more to do!
Ian Prickett and Jo Hardy are fitting out the living caboose. The two converted sea containers have to have wiring, plumbing and other connections secured to make them integral. Soon, the caboose will be operational and will provide shelter if a storm blows up and the ship is forced out to sea. Once sledges and scoots are laden, the two Caterpillars and the smaller “Snowflake” tow them inland towards the depot and away from the fragile ice edge. The last thing we need now is for the ice shelf to break up and take with it our essential supplies. The constant bumping of the bows of the ship against the ice doesn’t help but there is no other way of getting everything ashore.
It was another bright and sunny day, the air temperature varied from -5C to +3C. The early south easterly breeze soon dropped and became light and variable. Everyone is getting tanned faces with white rings around their eyes where they are protected by dark glasses or goggles. Spencer Smirl looks like a panda! There is excellent rapport and good spirits, instructions on VHF radio are always polite. “Please” and “Thank You” often accompany instructions or requests between ship and shore.
At 22.06hrs, Brian Newham, Thea and Jill Bowring – the last of the workforce, came aboard and the ship pulled out into the bay. Everything is secure. A solitary penguin on a nearby ice floe has agreed to be our watchman for the night. We, on the ship, will sleep well with Third Officer Nkosana (known as ‘Space’) and his two lookouts on watch until midnight. Then Second Officer Pieter will take over until 4am and Chief Officer Philane from 4am to 8am. By then we’ll be back at the shelf and back to work.
By Anton Bowring