THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
Today is our 11th day at sea on the Agulhas. We are right on scheduled to complete a 13-day trip to Crown Bay from Cape Town. Considering the slight mechanical glitch our first day, I am told this is really good time. When I stood down from my bunk this morning and looked outside, hoping to see even more ice than the day before, I was disheartened by the complete lack of icy obstacles. Instead, the sea was a dead flat calm, the calmest I’d seen since Cape Town.
It was calm enough that the Captain granted us access onto the main deck and into the holds. As we pulled the covers back and opened the doors into our cabooses for the first time since London a wave of emotion rushed over me. It is difficult to differentiate between fear and excitement anymore. The feelings are so strong at this point they are barely recognizable.
We will get into the pack ice on Saturday, my last day of rest. Sunday, Richmond and I will be tasked with prepping the two Snowmobiles for offload and operation as well as filling Snowflake – the snow truck – full of jet fuel and making sure it’s ready for work as well. There is some work on the D6Ns as well. We need to install the wax filter onto the Fleetgaurd Dozer System, which helps add lubricity to the aviation fuel. We have some winch electronics to repair on Rover, one of the Cats. The biggest task will be deploying the tent in the hold of the ship to attach all the components onto the canopy that had been removed for transport. This is a must because of the way the tent is secured at the moment, which prevents escape from the roof hatch. If we are unloading on the sea ice, a clear escape path is absolutely paramount.
Starting the day after tomorrow (Sunday), we will be flat out busy for at least nine days at my guess. Then the ship will depart, leaving the six of us perched on the shelf watching her sail off into the fog. The Ice team will spend a few more days completing the construction of the cabooses, stowing kit and preparing for our depot run. This is what I came for. I can hardly wait. It feels like Christmas Eve and I’m five years old again.