Sunday 25th December – visit to creek 6 and meeting the captain of the relief vessel

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Although it’s Christmas day, due to the relief operation still being underway and the ship being unloaded, the celebrations are postponed until the 28th. This will ensure that everyone can relax and enjoy Christmas together.

I was asked as part of the management team to get involved this morning in digging out barrels and loading up sledge.  This is easy on the most recent top layer of barrels, but far more difficult on the lower levels where the barrels become iced in.  Not what I hoped for my day off but got stuck-in until 1200 and stopped for brunch. BAS’s photographer asked what I was doing after brunch and offered to take me down to Creek 6. This was great as I had missed the 2 or 3 Sunday trips due to the places being filled within minutes of going on the notice board. So we grabbed a couple of ACE skidoos, radioed for permission to leave site boundary, checked that we had transit bags and zoomed off.

The 10m wide relief route was becoming fairly chewed up by the heavy vehicle going back and forth for the past week carrying fuel, food and drink, equipment and construction supplies. So we initially rode on one side which was fine but had quite a few snow tails that were hard to see in advance – so a bit of a jumpy ride. We switched over the other side and found it a fair bit smoother and got up to around 50km/hr. This was great and I know my sons would pay a lot of money to have this much fun on a skidoo. We saw some of the last cargo heading back to site VI dropping off food and drink for the temporary camp and construction supplies such as the temporary bridge support frame, and then onwards from there to site VIa to with the rest of the supplies for the both the temporary camp and the modules once re-located for the over-winterers. As we neared the coast we could see ice cliffs and then the dark grey sea emerged over the headland. The vehicle team had some time ago created a deep snow ramp across the crack that is formed between the ice shelf and the sea ice to allow the vehicles to safely access the floating ice adjacent to the ship. The ship is anchored with ropes into the sea ice but has a directional positioning system that allows it to adjust its position very precisely and keep it there when necessary without anchors.

I met the Captain of the vessel, who was kind enough to take some time to show me the bridge systems etc.  I also met the first officer and the chief engineer who took me around the ship from the engineers to the galley. Caught up with BAS’s photographer back on the sea ice where he was capturing the loading of the empty fuel drums back onto the ship.
We joined the vehicle drivers for some tea before heading back to site VI.

I enjoyed the normal Sunday evening meal and played cards.  Fluxx – a complex game of changing rules – in the end one of the others had a card that meant he could deal me his entire hand which he did as it was getting too complex.  I played a move that instantly brought the game to an end with him winning.  Think we were all relieved – and he laughed at my approach!

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