28/8/2016: WinFly - the contraction of the words Winter and Flight
has been the focus of the week. For many years, the Americans have been running winter
resupply flights around the same time as the sun returning on the 20th of August. The
return of daylight of course making it much easier to land aircraft. There are usually
around 3-5 flights over a period of a week; a combination of passenger and cargo
The highly changeable and difficult to predict weather patterns nearly always cause
cancellations and delays, and this year has not been an exception. Despite a number of
postponements caused by unfavourable weather and aircraft mechanical issues, we've
gained another five contractors and staff here at Scott Base until the beginning of main
body in October.
It's actually been good having the new people about, most of them being returnees.
While some of our winter crew have been unsettled and upset by the crew growing to a
total of 15, the majority of us have found it to be motivating to have fresh people
about who aren't yet morbidly depressed.
Since I rarely get out very much (my primary role at Scott Base would seem to be doing
fire crew for everyone else so they can go out and have the day off work) so the photos
today are from Vonny and Becky. The one above is the Australian Airbus A-319 as it
landed on Tuesday.
40-something passengers departing from the first aircraft of Winfly. A majority of
them bound for McMurdo Station, whose winter population of around 150 is set to swell
to around 450 people with the completion of the last flight on Monday.
Just after 12PM on Friday last week it was the first sunrise since winter began. Not
that we've seen it from Scott Base yet as the mountains are in the way. Or in the case
of today, it's too stormy, so hidden behind much cloud and snow. I think one of these
photos made it to media, which incorrectly said we could see the sun from Scott Base,
which we can't yet. This photo was taken on Monday near Hut Point ridge, nowhere near
One of the things I love about this time of year are the fantastic colours in the sky
during the dramatic sunrises and sunsets. By contrast, mid-winter is boring because
it's always dark. And of course mid-summer is always daylight. This was the colour of
the sky behind the Crater Hill wind farm on Thursday afternoon.
Also at this time of year they run a few day trips by Hagglunds out to Captain Scott's
hut at Cape Evans to make sure
it hasn't blown away or something. In this instance it hadn't. Just as it also hadn`t
for the past 103 years.
Inside Scott's hut, everything is exactly where the Captain and his team left it back
in 1911. Aside from the minor detail that everything has been removed, catalogued,
preserved and put back by the Antarctica Heritage Trust over the last few years.
Some of the hundred or more Colman's Flour food boxes in Captain Scott's hut, each of
them meticulously persevered by the Antarctic Heritage Trust specialist carpenters
over the past few years.
21/8/2016: The first sunrise on Friday was somewhat of a non-event
due to the sun being obscured from view by the surrounding terrain and the three-day
storm in progress.
At least the storm has delayed the first of the August flights, giving us just that
moment more of peace and quiet; long may it continue.
The 12 of us and partners sat down to a delicious group dinner on Friday night to mark
the end of the main chunk of winter. I'm sitting front, right. Apparently we're not
supposed to mention the fact that we had tuna steaks, which we traded for something at
McMurdo Station, because we're not supposed to trade stuff with McMurdo Station. What's
up with that? I'm not great at history, but I thought World War 2 ended in 1945??
Keith the chef carving up the bacon wrapped mushroom stuffed sirloin. Yes, it was every
bit as tasty as it looked.
Grubb and Scooter acting the shot for the computer generated flame thrower effects
in the Scott Base vehicle workshop.
Votes are in for the 48-hour film festival from the start of the month. All
30-something participating Antarctic stations voted, the results were:
48Hr Best Film: Arctowski (Poland) Lost in Translation
48Hr Acting: Crozet (France) Elephant Manfive knots and the vehicles might
have had a snowflake or two land on them
48Hr Cinematography: Scott Base (New Zealand) The Things
48Hr Editing: McMurdo (USA) Night Flight
48Hr Sound: Crozet (France) Elephant Man
Keith acting the chef part in the 48-hour film we produced one weekend at the
start of the month. The story went that an unseen alien force is going around
Scott Base and it was discovered that it was afraid of fire. These flames were
real, Keith knows that if you cook with a lot of wine in a hot pan, it causes an
impressive flare up such as this.
The ending shot of the film from Anthony Powell's quad-copter mounted camera.
Complete with computer generated flames. See the Scott Base 5-minute film
14/8/2016: Only a week to go until our quiet winter of 12 people on
station receives an influx of new people. The first of the four August flights is next
Saturday, bringing with it eight or so support staff, including construction staff to
complete the building extension work that began at the start of the year.
And only five days to go until the first official sunrise on the 19th of August. The
increasing ambient light and lively colours in the sky are already brightening everyone's
otherwise gloomy spirits.
The Scott Base kitchen and dining room were closed on Friday for the annual floor wax and
polish. So we had a delicious barbecue in the workshop welding bay for dinner. The
extraction fan was struggling to keep up with the smoke produced by Steve's cooking.
Just as it was getting too hard to handle the smoke, Grubb took over with the breathing
There was a severe weather warning in place, so Jason brought most of the vehicles inside
to prevent them from being buried in snow. Just as well he did; the winds rose to nearly
five knots and the vehicles might have had a snowflake or two land on them.
Even the D6 dozer got a break from its usual frozen parking spot outside.
Steve is still struggling to complete several months of work they sent him down for six
weeks to complete. He's hard at work on installing fire sprinkler pipework within the new
container lab dock at present.
A rare treat yesterday at lunchtime seeing the colourful nacreous clouds
over Crater Hill, the HF conical monopole antenna in the foreground.
More nacreous clouds, technically known as polar stratospheric clouds, we saw at noon
yesterday. The silhouettes of Castle Rock and Mt Erebus dominating the skyline.
7/8/2016: Again, the rare treat of a 2-day 'long' weekend couldn't
have come at a better time, meaning people should be a little less tired and cranky next
week, for a few days anyway.
This weekend is also the annual Antarctic 48-hour film festival. It was started around 10
years ago by film maker, Anthony Powell, who is with us at Scott Base this season. That
gives us an overwhelmingly unfair advantage, having not only the professional film maker
here, but also the originator of the festival and the driver for it again this year.
The festival is essentially a short movie making competition between Antarctic stations.
Mystery elements are selected by randomly chosen stations, which were all revealed on
Friday. The idea is that you need to produce a 5-minute maximum film of any theme you
like, providing it contains the mystery elements, and have it submitted on Sunday,
So Anthony Powell had a script in mind, which is very loosely an abbreviated version of
the 1982 movie, The Thing. We filmed the four scenes yesterday and Anthony has
since been working on the editing last night and today.
The addition of the mystery elements are so that it guarantees the film is made in that
48-hour period. This time the elements that the film had to contain were: the sound of
an elephant trumpeting, the action of someone pretending to walk as a fashion model on
a catwalk, the object of a stethoscope, the line of dialogue "may the force be with you"
and some form of mythical creature.
It's the first time I've been involved in something like this, which was both educational
and fun to do. It's surprising how much is involved in film making and to see some
of the professional tricks of the trade used by Anthony. It turns out that most of the
magic is done by the video editing software these days, but there's still a lot of skill
involved with camera angles, lighting and capturing sound.
Friday bought the opportunity to install the POCSAG paging receiver at our radio site
on top of Crater Hill, which is part of the new radio paging system I've been working
on this past month. With finally a bit of light at mid-day, it was possible to
walk up the mountain without constantly tripping over rocks in the dark. Though the
strong wind at -30C was anything but pleasant to walk into, with all the pleasure of
feeling as though you're being knifed in the face.
The northward sun under the horizon providing background illumination of two of the
Americans' radio sites on Crater Hill.
Looking east from the top of Crater Hill towards the third American radio site on
Crater Hill. Though the sun is not above the horizon for another two weeks, there's
plenty of ambient light at mid-day as this photo shows.
And continuing the mid-day photo theme in case you're not sick of it yet; here's the
sun behind Mt Erebus as seen from Scott Base during the week.
A large aurora display during the week got some of the others whipped up into a
frenzy of photography while I was doing my regular part time job of washing dishes
in the kitchen. This is Andy's proud shot of a Hagglunds at the hitching rail.