ANARE Club Representative Voyage 5 2004/2005

Kit Scally in Antarctica

Greetings dear readers!

     It’s usual at times such as this to open the narrative with an unforgettable opening stanza designed to keep readers riveted to the very end – aghast at tales of derring do, heroic endeavours and such like. The reality is somewhat different – it’s a long way to the ice. The Aurora Australis’ last voyage for this season (V5) was originally scheduled to depart Hobart in early March.  It had to be brought forward about 2 weeks at the last moment due to the earlier voyage’s inability (V4) to reach Mawson’s Horseshoe Harbour to offload supplies and personnel. Departure from Hobart was now slated for 20 February at 1700 hrs but at midday, this was extended to 2000 hrs as more time was needed to load cargo. What else could go wrong?

Hobart turned on brilliant Sunday weather with the running of the Triathlon series around the city and Salamander wharf area starting early in the morning and finishing late afternoon.  With temperatures in the mid-20’s, the ‘Orange Roughie’ (a term of endearment for the Aurora Australis) departed Macquarie Wharf on time with an enthusiastic crowd on shore bidding farewell and safe travelling to friends and loved ones aboard the ship.

The mandatory ship’s safety fire and cold weather evacuation drill had been completed by all personnel earlier in the day.  Once underway and clear of the wharf, the helicopter deck aft was soon crowded with expeditioners taking advantage of the many “Kodak Moments” as the AA made it’s down the Derwent.  (Does the expression ‘Kodak Moment’ really translate to the digital camera world?)  Before long, we were out of mobile phone coverage (sigh) and a full (?) moon to our north caused another severe case of Kodak Poisoning – this time with tripod assistance.

It was fortuitous that there are Communications Technicians aboard the ship. Within hours of our departure, a steady stream of expeditioners were asking for assistance to connect their PCs to the ship’s LAN.  No comms – no emails – no reports – aarghh! (This is the 21st century after all!)  It was hard not to offer assistance, so there were soon 3.5 techs (me being the “half”) beavering away getting every kind of laptop computer working on the on-board email system.  My real business, however, is in promoting the aims and interest of the ANARE club. In the next few days, various groups have been asked to present a short talk to the ship’s complement on their area of expertise.  Interest so far has been promising but I expect the real sell to begin after the talk!
Everyone is settling down to the shipboard routine.  Breakfast is typically OJ, cornflakes and/or fully cooked; lunch – choice of gourmet salads, fully cooked or both.  For Dinner, I thoughtfully consider calorific intake, so it’s just a main fully cooked meal –  and a tiny desert: fruit salad and caramel crunch ice-cream. One scoop.  Then there’s late-night munchies, but I’ll leave this topic for another day.
The ship is averaging 10 knots at 240 degrees into a medium swell with little wind. At this speed, we expect to be at Mawson in 13.5 days, but we’ve yet to encounter the winds and seas of the ‘furious fifties’. Temperatures are even now noticeably cooler at 12 degrees C and a quick port-hole forecast shows it to be misty and 10/10ths overcast.  As many of you will be familiar with the infamous expression “the A-factor”, our real ETA is a moveable feast.  With new season’s pack-ice still blocking Mawson’s Horseshoe harbour (our first port of call), resupply may yet be by air (helicopter).  All are hopeful that early autumn storms and/or winds will do their magic and blow the ice out to sea and so enable us “round-trippers” to step ashore and visit the Premier Station – truly an unexpected bonus.  For others, it’s been a long time between drinks.


Kitski ANARE Club Representative, 2005