A different New Year’s Eve

Anna Wåhlin and Karen Assmann are on board I/S Araon for a two-months cruise in the Amundsen Sea. They will try to send us news at least once a week. As I’m learning the language, Anna sent her first post in Swedish… so it took me some time to translate it. Anyway, if you have any questions for them about life in Antarctica, please comment below and it will be forwarded to them.

“After an hectic week in Christchurch, checking that all the equipment that we had sent survived its journey and getting what we had forgotten (including a huge stock of sweets, probably more than enough for two months on a Korean icebreaker…), we finally went aboard by lunchtime and got ready for departure. Customs came in the afternoon to control everyone’s documents, after which we could no longer legally go on land. One last fuel top up and we began travelling to Antarctica overnight.

You have to be creative if you have forgotten something. Here, Tom Richter (Texas University), explaining to a confused shop assistant that he needs something producing loud bangs for his seismic equipments

You have to be creative if you have forgotten something. Here, Tom Richter (Texas University), explaining to a confused shop assistant that he needs something producing loud bangs for his seismic equipment.

I had just sat down to write this first post when the expedition leader (aka Principal Investigator or PI) came to our lab, looking quite concerned. The reason why? The crew had just found out that our ship, Araon, had freshly broken her gearbox and was leaking gear oil – that needed to be fixed as soon as possible! But that also meant that the expedition would be delayed by at least 5-6 days. Everyone on board was disappointed obviously, for that now means that we will not make our flights home, and the new dates often conflict with other engagements. Personally, I will miss my daughter’s birthday. I feel particularly bad, as I’ve already missed Christmas and my other daughter’s birthday for this expedition…

View from Araon's helideck, with the little town of Lyttelton (!) in the background. Lyttelton, a few kilometres south of Christchurch, is a historic palce from which famous expeditions departed. Many houses were destroyed during the 2011 earthquakes, but it's slowly building up again

View from Araon’s helideck, with the little town of Lyttelton (!) in the background. Lyttelton, a few kilometres south of Christchurch, is a historic place from which famous expeditions departed. Many houses were destroyed during the 2011 earthquakes, but it’s slowly building up again

Anyway, while we wait to depart for good (I hope) this time, let’s talk about packing for such an expedition! It takes a lot of time, and energy, and pain also. You need to account for absolutely everything you might need during these two months. Computers, equipment, battery and spares of course, but also any single tool, screw and o ring necessary for your equipment. And tape, cable tie and WD40, for fixing anything else! We put everything very carefully into boxes, which were then collected by a shipping company who delivered them to an agent in New Zealand. When the ship came into port a few days ago, these boxes got lifted aboard thanks to the Korean crew. Over the last 12 months, we ended up shipping a total of 12 pallets of equipment!

The packing procedure, from left to right: Karen putting everything in boxes; the shipping company taking over; finding the boxes back in sunny New Zealand

The packing procedure, from left to right: Karen putting everything in boxes; the shipping company taking over; finding the boxes back in sunny New Zealand

If you want to know more about what we’re doing here, Elin, another Swedish oceanographer on board with us, was interviewed today (listen here).”

 

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