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ANARE CLUB REPRESENTATIVE REPORT MARGARET WHITELAW - V3 2011

Tuesday 8th February 2011
We arrived at No 4 Wharf and joined the queue to have bags weighed. Luckily no problems although there were a few expeditioners seen repacking their bags so that they weighed less than the maximum of 15 kg per bag. All my belongings were put into a cage ready to be lifted onto the helideck. We wandered about until it was time to say our goodbyes.

A large S76 Sikorsky flew overhead and landed on the helideck to be quickly debladed and put into the hanger.

All the expeditioners were marched under escort, single file from the shed to the gangway two hours before sailing where we were checked by customs and given the safety tour of the ship.
At 5 pm we gently moved from the wharf and out into the Derwent while our friends and relatives waved sadly from behind the guardrail just outside the shed. It was a sad farewell compared with the streamers, music and bustle of my 2004 departure. Relatives were then able to stand right at the edge of the wharf and conversations were possible without the need for mobile phones.

Friends family at wharf
Isolated families and friends at the wharf Sunday

14th February 2011
Hello everyone, It is Sunday (I had to check my calendar to make sure), and we put our clocks back another 1 hr last night so we are now 2 hours behind. The weather is grey and the sea is reasonably calm so everyone is fully functioning.

We have an interesting group of people on board including, 19 winterers going to Mawson, a couple of scientists going to Davis for a brief 4 week summer whose aim is to strap recording devices on as many elephant seals as they can. The timing is critical, as they have to wait until the animals have molted and then allow enough time for the new hair to grow sufficiently long to hold the device securely.

Then there are the 3 Korean cameramen who are spending the winter at Mawson to make a movie about life on base and also to spend time in the field with the Emperor penguins.

Harpist Alice Giles is on board. She is the Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowship winner this year and is the granddaughter of Cecil Madigan who accompanied Mawson in 1911.

There is a group of Navy surveyors who hope to do a survey of the bottom of Horseshoe Harbour and the outside edge of West Arm to see if the steep rocky wall there drops sufficiently steeply to install a mooring. This would overcome the problem of ice being trapped in Horseshoe Harbour as it is at the moment.

The closest we will get to the base is 30 km which means supplies/people must be helicoptered in. We have one helicopter on board and we will pick up two more from Davis. AAD decided to send us to Davis first to do the light resupply there, allowing extra time for the ice to leave Mawson (and to pick up the other 'copters incase it doesn't). They are planning a very fast resupply at Davis so I don't think I will get to go ashore which is very sad. There have been many changes at Davis since 2004 and I was hoping to have a look around. Anyway, fingers crossed, I might get lucky.

I have been documenting Phil Law's trip to establish Australia's first base on the Continent of Antarctica on the Kista Dan and I have been putting notices "On this day in 1954..." on the whiteboard each day. People seem interested and happy to be part of this historic voyage carrying his ashes to Horseshoe Harbour. Tonight I am showing my slides from our trip to Mawson's Huts at Commonwealth Bay and then a short film called "Cape Denison" where Estelle Lazer talks about the preservation of the huts. I plan to wear my ANARE shirt and talk a bit about the Club as well.

The ashes handover ceremony at No 3 wharf went extremely well, Ray McMahon spoke beautifully about Phil and Nell and the whole ceremony was quite moving. There are some AAD representatives on board who will document the internment ceremony at Mawson and with Alice Giles playing her harp it will be a unique and moving ceremony.

That's about it for now, not much wildlife yet, it isn't windy enough for albatross and no ice in sight for a couple of days.

After clearing Storm Bay we headed west for several days and now we are heading 229.9 deg . Lat 48 58 S Long 120 51 E , We are travelling at 9.4 knots and the outside temperature is about 9 degrees as is the water temp. (I have access to this great site called Aurora Australis Underway Data where I can get all the information about our position etc right here in my cabin using wireless

Club information noticeboard
ANARE Club information on the dining room whiteboard

Tuesday 15th February 2011
 Great day today. We saw the arrival of our first iceberg. It was a long way off in the distance however, and the AAD are not a cruise company so it stayed on the horizon. A second berg also appeared well in the distance mid morning. Once again no photo opportunities as we had experienced on the Marina Svetaeva voyage to Commonwealth Bay in 2008.

 During the morning there were several snow flurries with lovely big clumps of snowflakes that melted as soon as they landed on our clothes.

 Also, the albatross have appeared and I must have taken a hundred photos, I'm not sure how many will be good enough to keep but that's the beauty of digital photography. I'm sure I have a few good shots.

Wanderer
Wandering albatross


Wednesday 16th February 2011
Grey, misty and quite cold, water temp is 1.82 deg C, air temp 0.3 deg C on Port side and 1.9 on starboard with a wind chill of -7.9 deg C We are heading 194 deg and very close to crossing the 60 deg line. I wonder if they still do the King Neptune thing?

Excellent news this morning, I am on the list to go to Davis and I have been allocated a room in the Operations building, room 4. I remember being very jealous of Chris and Joel in 04/05 who were in that building while I was out in the cold in a Donga! I am very much looking forward to seeing the many building projects that have occurred there in recent years.

We have been busily scrubbing boots and vacuuming backpacks and jackets in readiness to land. No seeds in my stuff will take root in Davis!

I have just had my first ever win of scrabble with a score of 148. Wow that's so good for me, I'm usually hopeless. Tonight is Trivia Night so maybe I'm on a winning streak.

Thursday 17th February 2011
This morning we had helicopter briefings including videos and I got to sit in the big S76 we have on board. It has three rows of seats, 2 in the front then two rows of 4 seats. Hopefully I will get to ride in it soon.

King Neptune came aboard this afternoon to initiate those who have never been below 60 degrees. Poor people! It was so disgusting and much worse than my experience in 2004 where I had flour and water through my hair with vegemite face cream and ice down my neck. This time They had a green/blue mixture that looked like vomit, and smelled like fish which they wiped liberally over everyone's head and poured ladles of it down the back of their necks. One of the green people had a huge fish, salmon I think, which was hollowed out and he had his arm inside it with his blue-gloved hand protruding from its mouth. This was to be kissed by each person. There were lots of expeditioners who have never been south so it went on for some time. Then when everyone needed a shower and the laundry the water was turned off. Lots of screams and complaints could be heard echoing down the corridors. All good fun to watch and after all you only need to do it once! The entire ship needed cleaning afterwards. There was green clumpy stuff along all the passageways and it was inches thick in the dining area.

Afterwards we put on outdoor clothing and had a BBQ on the trawl deck. It was lovely and just as I remember. My Sauvignon Blanc stayed icy to the last drop. I met a few members of the crew and it was interesting to talk to them about their jobs. I know a few of the officers on the bridge but there is little chance to meet the rest of the crew members. I spoke to an IR having no idea what that stands for but I think they are basic seamen (and women too). I met the Bosun and he is called Senior IR. Some of them, including the Bosun had a slightly green tinge to their skin so I know what they were up to this afternoon! As the BBQ is seen as a special occasion we were allowed 3 drinks, one with dinner and two in the bar later where some people danced and others watched.

Friday 18th February 2011
Another busy day filled with interesting things to do. There was a talk about the Nella Dan and then later in the afternoon Alice played her small harp on the bridge with lovely icebergs floating by. She is very good.

We have been given new cabin allocations and I am to share with a scientist lady who has been summering at Davis studying penguins. We should get along well.

We are into the sea ice now, with some snow flurries and it is usually too cold to be outside for very long without gloves. I tend to stand on the bridge and when something catches my eye I duck out the door, take a quick photo, or several, and return inside to defrost. I did get my outside gear on and stand on the bow for a while and watch the ship break through the sea ice. I think I appeared on the web cam as it takes a shot every 30 minutes and I was out there for at least an hour. It wasn't at all cold as there was no wind.

grey day
A lovely grey day

Sunday 20th February 2011
The sun is out this morning and the sea is glassy. I have taken some lovely reflection photos of icebergs and a few great seal and penguin shots. I am trying to refrain from any more giant petrel and other bird shots as I must have literally hundreds of them. Of course there will only be a handful of good, clear photos amongst the hundreds of mediocre ones.

I have spent many hours over the last couple of days on the bridge watching the ever-changing parade of ice floating by. It is never the same from one minute to the next but always beautiful. Even yesterday which was grey and snowing, the ice doesn't shine as brilliantly as it does in sunlight but it was soft and beautiful in a different way.

Last night in the pinky/mauve dusk, with ice floating by and snow petrels circling, Alice Giles played her big harp on the bridge for nearly an hour. This harp is an electric acoustic harp and deep blue in colour. Alice wore a beautiful electric blue Thai silk outfit to match the colour of the harp. The atmosphere on the bridge was electric too. The program has been especially put together to honour her grandfather, Cecil Madigan, who accompanied Douglas Mawson to Commonwealth Bay in 1911. The music was interspersed with Alice reading from her grandfather's diary and singing some of the songs and hymns the men had enjoyed singing during their long period of isolation. It was a moving and beautiful performance and made more special by the setting.

How lucky I am to be on this voyage!

We are 15 nautical miles from Davis and 2x8 loads of people have flown off in the big Sikorsky helicopter. It is nearly 5.30pm and that will be all the flying tonight. I am with the 5th group so 3rd in line tomorrow. I watched the departure process and it is run with army precision. The 16 passengers had to be in the 'departure lounge' (library) with their red bag (survival gear) and other things needed while on shore. i.e. toothbrush, PJs, change of undies and socks, camera and laptop, well in advance of departure time. All bags are taken up to the helideck by the designated 'bag carriers' while the designated 'dressers' got people into their special survival suits that must be worn when flying over water. They are orange, with an enclosed rubberised suit that has rubbery socks and is tight fitting around ankles and wrists. No watches or earrings or other jewellery could be worn as the suits are rumoured to be worth $7000 each and are easily torn. Then once you are enclosed in the suit you need to put on the sorrel boots and lifejacket. You then line up and are escorted up to the helideck. Once at Davis you have to quickly get out of the suits for the helicopter to bring back for the next group.

This morning before breakfast it was lovely and sunny so I spent a while on the bridge taking more photos, mainly lovely reflections of icebergs. The water was like a mirror. I am very happy with some of my photos this morning. Otherwise, not much for me to do. I am packed and ready for tomorrow.

iceberg reflections
Reflections

Monday 21st February 2011
This morning, about 6am, we moved the AA into Davis Harbour. I noticed out of my porthole that we were moving, so I quickly went up onto the bridge and stayed there for an hour and a half and watched our journey through iceberg alley and into Davis. The sun was shining, the sky a clear blue and overnight tiny pancake ice had formed on the sea. It was entirely different from my last visit to Davis, no walking to the base over the sea ice this time and the hills were all bare and brown and stripey. It was lovely, there were all these little islands that last time were covered with ice. I took some lovely photos of iceberg alley.

After breakfast we assembled in the 'departure lounge', to 'hurry and wait'.

What a business it was getting into the survival suits! It took longer to get into the suits than it took to fly the short distance to land. They were very tight and claustrophobic and I took off my jacket and just wore the black thermal top. We were given instructions to hang onto the bag the suits are stored in so I put my jacket with glasses, gloves, hat and sunscreen into this bag thinking I would put them all on again when I took off the suit. Well! they wouldn't let me carry the bag onto the helicopter so they said they would put it with the luggage. However, when I arrived, the bag didn't. It was left on the ship and finally arrived a few hour later on a barge unloading supplies. So there I was, cold, no glasses except the sunnies which didn't work inside.

 The station leader lent me her jacket to go on a tour of the station but my fingers and ears were very cold.

reflections grey berg
Reflection of a grey berg

bergs morning sun
Bergs in the morning sun
Sunrise on ice
Sunrise on ice
Pancake ice off Davis
Pancake ice forming off Davis
A pretty berg
A pretty berg
Sunrise berg near Davis
Sunrise on a berg near Davis

New living quarters
New living quarters
Remaining old dongas
Remaining old dongas

There was an aurora tonight. People who see them all the time say it was average, but I still thought it was very interesting. My camera wasn't too happy out there in the dark and cold for over an hour and the battery said 'enough is enough' and died.

The Lidar was working at the same time as the aurora and it was spectacular. A green beam, shooting out into space. There is also a very bright star (planet) either Mars or Venus that sits just above the horizon all night, doing small loops I think.

It is very comfortable in the Comms building so I think I was quite justified to feel jealous in 2004.

Flags flying
Flags flying at Davis P&O left, ANARE right.

Davis wallow from the air
Davis and the wallow from the air
Elephant seals
Eles doing what Eles do in the wallow at Davis


Tuesday 22nd February 2011
At Davis - I skipped breakfast this morning with the intention of enjoying Smoko at 10am. I remember it was my favourite meal of the day 6 years ago and it was as good as I remembered. The Station Leader here is Alison Dean, a lovely person, who has spent a lot of time in Antarctica with the British. She looked after the visitors so well and made us all feel at home. I had a wonderful flight in the Squirrel this morning for over an hour.

We went to the airstrip up on the plateau at Woop Woop to close a door, which had been reported as unlocked and on the way the pilot Doug, flew me over Law Cairn where Phillip Law landed about this time in 1954, (early March I think). Then from the plateau we visited most of the huts in the Vestfold Hills, landing on the helipads of some but mostly just flying low overhead. I saw Lake Laternula and Watts Lake, which brought back memories, I think I could see traces of our excavations along the shoreline! (maybe not). We flew along Trajer Ridge and the whole thing was just spectacular. On the way back we went along the Sorsdal Glacier and saw a huge crevasse that had recently occurred. It would have held the Aurora Australis it was so big with blue tunnels at each end. Finally, back over the base and the wallow full of elephant seals, over 60, to the helipad. Wow! not only was the flight spectacular on a crisp and clear blue day but the pilot in another life, was a tour guide. He knew so much about the area and gave us a really interesting time.

In the afternoon we returned to the ship to make an early departure as there was threatening weather coming.

Departed Davis early evening heading west to Mawson.

Squirrel AA me
Squirrel, Aurora Australis and me

New crevasse in the Sorsdal
New crevasse in the Sørsdal Glacier
Stripy Vestfolds
Stripy Vestfolds

Lake Laternula
Picture Lake Laternula, my main fossil sampling site in 2004/2005

Wednesday 23rd February 2011
Not a lot happening today. We are well out to sea to avoid the ice so I have spent most of the day working on my photos. I took over 400 photos during the helicopter flight making the total so far 1650 photos taking up 10.5 Gb of space. I am glad I bought a 500Gb pocket hard drive to back up.

A beautiful sunset as we travel past huge icebergs near Mawson. I think we are travelling parallel to iceberg alley but to the north of it. The ice in the alley is over 3 metres thick, it has been a cold summer here, and at Davis too which is quite unusual. The days we were at Davis were the warmest and most pleasant they had experienced for some weeks.

sunset bergs near Mawson
Sunset on icebergs near Mawson

Thursday 24th February 2011
We have arrived at the ice edge off Mawson. Well, when I say off Mawson, we are about 50 miles away so quite a long helicopter flight. The plan at the moment is to fly some people and cargo in while we push our way through the sea ice as close to the station as we can manage. Last evening was perfect, we travelled through some slightly frozen water and at about midnight we rammed ourselves into the ice for the night. Early this morning we began pushing then reversing then pushing again through the ice progressing about a boat length at a time.

 There were some very inquisitive Emperor penguins who came very close to the ship and entertained us for some time. Another 250 photos hit my computer.

We plan to be at Mawson until Friday week. My turn to go ashore is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week and I think a Hägglund trip to a hut is included so I am looking forward to that.

I continue to do the "On this day....in 1954" theme and put up daily pages on the white board plus interesting photographs. Today in 1954, the Kista Dan had left Mawson and was on its way to the Scullin Monolith which although visited twice before, no one had been able to land. Law was keen to try but eventually was 'persuaded' not to take the risk.

 Friday 25th February 2011
Unloading of people and "cargo that doesn't talk" as the Deputy Voyage leader calls cargo, continues today. I guess that makes me "talking cargo".

We are still pushing through the ice which is becoming thicker and harder so I think the plan is to stop when we get to about 30 nautical miles from Mawson.

I am spending my day organising the Order of Service for the Interment Ceremony for Phillip and Nel Law.

The scenery outside has been too pretty and constantly changing to be sitting at my computer and for some reason at the end of the day I am exhausted.

Emperors checking us out
Emperors checking us out
An inquisitive group
An inquisitive group
Emperors and icebergs
Emperors and icebergs
On bow moving through ice
Standing on the bow as we move through the ice

Saturday 26th February 2011
 We are as far as we intend to go into the ice and I think we are still about 30km from Mawson. It is very cold here for this time of year, it was -18 deg C overnight and is still -14 deg C.

Not much for me to see or do. We are not allowed on the decks or the bridge as they are flying helis in and out all day. They have just started unloading boxes onto the ice where they will then load into the helicopters.

Squirrel from my porthole
 Loading the Squirrel from the sea ice (view from my porthole)

My roommate helped outside yesterday and she said she had 7 layers of clothing on. I don't have 7 layers of clothing so I will just continue to help out in the kitchen.

Today I peeled about 20 kg of potatoes. It is a good job helping, they are a happy lot and play good music and it is warm. They also feed me hot scones or hot bread rolls for morning tea so I am not losing any weight. I am now eating less than when I first came on board. The range of food is vast and very tempting. How can you not have bacon and eggs for breakfast each morning? I don't have the other tempting things like sausages, baked beans, and bubble and squeek. I usually have fruit as well. Amazingly, they are still serving mango, passionfruit, paw paw, melon and other lovely fruit. So, I am eating some foods that are good for me.

This evening they allowed us to leave the ship and walk about on the sea ice. I put on my freezer suit and all the warm gear and took some photos of the ship jammed in the ice with a rising moon and a pink sunset happening in the background. It was lovely to walk about. The ice was covered by about 4" of snow and was quite smooth. I wandered about for an hour until my nose told me to go inside. The neck warmer works well over your face but when you wear glasses they tend to fog over so I need my nose out in the air.

Evening walk seaice
An evening walk on the sea ice
Moonrise off Mawson
Moonrise and sunset on the sea ice off Mawson

Sunday 27th February 2011
Not a lot to report, snow peas on the menu tonight so I prepared those in the kitchen this morning.

There was a group of Emperors just off the trawl deck this afternoon, diving into the water that the ship has brought closer to them and also churned up for them. They are very cute. When they stand with their wings behind their backs they really do look like little gentlemen but then they spoil the image when they drop onto their fat tummies and slide along.

I have finalised the details for the Ceremony and have made an Order of Service with a picture of Phil Law on the front. The Ceremony is still set down for Friday but the forecast is ominous. At sunset tonight there was a bank of very black cloud to the east and it was cold today with some wind blowing. The temperature was -18 deg C and with the wind factor down to the mid minus twenties.

Unloading onto the ice continued. The clothing is fantastic, you do not feel the cold if you are properly dressed. A good aurora is predicted for tonight, as the sky is clear. It will be between 1 and 2 am so I don't think I will make it. There have been a couple of opportunities to see a green flash, when the sun dropped below the ocean and then on another occasion on a clear evening, when the sun dropped behind sea ice, but as yet it hasn?t happened for me.

 Monday 28th February 2011
Things are not looking good here. A blizzard is predicted to arrive this afternoon and it looks as though they might want to leave early. Phil and Nel Law's ashes went ashore today and they are bringing all the people who are coming home with us, back on board. The indications are that they are keen to get going. Alice Giles is going ashore tonight to play her Concert Harp for the people at Mawson. She was meant to be going for 5 days but that has been dropped to 1 night.

Quite a few outgoing winterers came aboard this evening. The Voyage Leader tells me he is hoping the Ceremony will go ahead on Friday as the weather may be better by then. I certainly hope it all happens and I am relieved to hear that he is going to wait until Friday and even Saturday, to try to achieve that goal.

 I have now started watching videos, I was too interested in what was happening outside to watch any before but now I am feeling a little depressed with the way things are going. I watched Tom Hanks in The Terminal and felt much cheerier.

Tuesday 1st March 2011
 "Happy New Month?" The planned flights to take the last of the winterers ashore and to bring Alice back to the ship have been suspended until further notice. The temperature has dropped and the wind has picked up. It was reported to be 70 knots at the Station this morning, it is about 28 knots here at the ship. We are dislodging ourselves from the sea ice and moving out into the big polynya to avoid being crushed by blowing sea ice so it will be further for the helis to fly if they are able to do so this afternoon. I spent some time on the bridge today watching the horizon disappear as snow and cloud enveloped us. The Emperors were unfazed and continued to swim alongside us jumping onto the sea ice every so often. The sea is warmer for them at -1.77 degC compared with -12 degC with a wind factor taking it to -25 degC (at 11 am). Wind sensation is labelled "Bitterly Cold" and frost bite would occur in less than 30 min. It's lovely on the warm bridge and I am choosing to take photos through the window today!

 Lunchtime briefing: they have taken the wings off the Helis at Mawson as the wind is very strong and there will be no flights, based on weather predictions, until late Thursday or Friday.

Wednesday 2nd March 2011
Another day of not doing much. This morning the wind had dropped a little and continued to drop as the day went on. It is blowing at about 26 knots at the moment although and at the station it is 60 gusting to 66 knots at present. Vision is better today, I can see the horizon, it was a total whiteout yesterday.

My kitchen duty today was to sort tomatoes into 'good', 'not so good but OK for soup and stews' and 'into the bin' I am surprised how well the fresh food is lasting. The cherries and peaches disappeared long ago but we are still eating paw paw, melons, kiwi fruit and a few green grapes. The winterers who have come aboard are enjoying the fruit and fresh salads. There may be news tomorrow about going ashore if the weather continues to improve.

Thursday 3rd March 2011
I woke this morning and looked out the window to see a whiteout again with the winds gusting to over 40knots. At Mawson it was gusting to over 70 knots so another no-go today. Tomorrow has a better forecast but then again so did today. I am still packed and ready to go so I am living out of my back pack.

Saturday 5th March 2011
This morning was the complete opposite to the last few days. It was sunny, calm and beautiful. I was on the first flight to Mawson, left at 8.45am and the flight took about 25 minutes flying low over the ice. Mawson Station is lovely, it is neatly located at the end of Horseshoe Harbour and surrounded by the ice from the plateau which slopes down to the sea so the Station can't spread out too much. There are two wind generators one on each side. The view from the Living Quarters called "The Red Shed" is spectacular.

Shortly after our arrival I was taken on a tour of the old historic buildings dating back to Phillip Law's first trip in 1954 and that was very interesting. The early expeditioners would have been cramped for space but reasonably cosy. All the newer buildings are further up the hill and very comfortable with great views from every bedroom.

Weddel hut
Weddell Hut

It was decided by the incoming Station Leader and the Voyage Leader that at 1.30pm we should hold an indoor Ceremony for Phil and Nel Law due to time restrictions and the need to complete the resupply and be on our way. I prepared an abridged version of the original plan without the actual interment into the cairn and an Order of Service with a picture of Phil on the front. The winterers will finalise the interment for us at a later time. Although I was very disappointed about not completing the interment as was originally planned, I think it was quite a moving Ceremony especially with Alice playing Dark Eyes, one of Phil Law?s favourites.

Law ceremony Red Shed
Ceremony for Phil and Nel Law in the Red Shed

Following the Ceremony some of us were taken for a Hägglund trip onto the plateau. It was such a sunny day that the snowdrifts on the ice were melting and it was quite slippery. The Hag would roar up the incline and then slip sideways down again, very exciting! We didn't make it to the top so we put the chains on our boots to walk the last bit. I didn't like the experience. It was fine when you could walk on snow but there were many spots where you had no choice but to walk across the blue ice. After treading too heavily on the edge of an area of snow, the snow decided to slip downhill and took me with it. I didn't come to any harm but that was enough for me, I slipped about 2 metres down the hill and had trouble getting up again. It really was very slippery. I stayed put and took photos and enjoyed the silence of it all while the others walked the last bit. Alice took her harp halfway up the plateau and allowed the wind to blow through it and recorded the sounds. She is now back on the ship after being stranded by the blizzard at Mawson Station for 6 days.

Hagglund me on plateau
Hag and me on the Plateau

I had also hoped to walk out to West Arm to see the Cairn but the Station Leader said I was to go back to the ship so there wasn't enough time to do that. So, here I am back on the ship, warm, comfortable and reasonably happy with my day's achievements.

Law cairn from Red shed
Phil and Nel Law cairn (far right) on West Arm, viewed from the Red Shed

Monday 14th March 2011
It is nine days since my last letter and it is hard to believe that so little can happen in nine days. When I last wrote I had spent a lovely day at Mawson where the conditions were perfect, still and sunny. The following morning found us in whiteout again so I was very lucky to have my day ashore and to hold the Ceremony for Phil and Nel Law. That Saturday was a little oasis in a long chain of white days. We were unable to leave on the Sunday because there were 5 high priority loads to go ashore and also six expeditioners to bring back to the ship. By Monday afternoon, the weather had cleared enough to finish the resupply and we finally moved from the ice to open water at 5.15 pm. It was a calm and beautiful afternoon. Some Emperor penguins and a few Weddell seals waved goodbye, probably pleased to see the last of us although we did provide a useful waterway for them to access the sea. So, we were underway and running a few days behind schedule with plans to go full-bore with both engines. And that is what we have been doing now for eight days.

The weather has been mostly grey, we have had snow then rain but the seas have been moderate. I think we are making good progress. (That last sentence reminds me of my days writing school reports Aaagh!)

It is very quiet on the ship, people tend to come down for meals then retreat to their cabins to watch videos on their laptops. It is not as I remember my trip home last time, where there were groups of people playing scrabble and 500 and generally mixing together. Perhaps there weren't as many personal laptops in 2005. There have been a couple of talks and a physicist who travelled with us in 2005, you may remember Theo Davies, has been showing episodes of Grand Designs each day after lunch.

There have been two musters on deck since our departure, just when I thought I would never have to get into my freezer suit and sorrels again. On Wednesday the 9th there was another BBQ on the trawl deck which is very close to the water line. When travelling at 16 knots the water going past reminded me of Niagara Falls, huge volumes of water tumbling past me as I looked over the rail. I loved the way it swirled with deep green patches and the foam frothing along on the surface. I think deep inside we know we came from the sea because it attracts us so much. This time I had Cab Sav which doesn't lend itself to getting colder, Sav blanc is definitely better suited to trawl deck drinking! I had another red in the bar later and it was much improved. Thursday 10th March was a crazy day. I went with the flow and watched six movies between 9am and 3am the next day in my cabin. In between movies I appeared for meals and to watch Grand Designs in the theatre with some other humans. The movies I watched were all good but I can't remember too much about them as they have blurred into oblivion. I do remember that the last movie, in the early hours of the morning, was 'The Time Travellers Wife' which seemed to fit with my state of mind quite well. To make things worse we have been putting our clocks forward one hour every night for the past 5 nights, two more to go and we will be on EST. On Saturday 12th March we had a fundraiser for Camp Quality, which was very entertaining. Called 'Busking on the Bridge', Alice played her harp and three expeditioners played and sang guitar and finally Meggsie Mills, who some of you will know, played his mouth organ in a duet with Alice on harp. Then they all had a 'jam session'. It was pretty good really.

Alice Giles Meggsie Mills bridge
Alice Giles and Meggsie Mills "Busking on the Bridge"

Our earliest time of arrival in Hobart is late Thursday or more likely Friday morning but if we strike bad weather we could be a day or two later. I hope it isn't any later than Friday as we have made bookings to spend a couple of days in Port Arthur. Ron and Rohan may be a bit lonely in that spooky place without me!

This was my last report. The remainder of the voyage proceeded without incident and we disembarked early Friday morning, 18th March 2011. To the Australian Antarctic Division and the ANARE Club, my thanks and gratitude for making this amazing voyage possible.
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