25/10/11: They say that all good things come to an end;
or good riddance to bad rubbish. Take your pick as this will be the final
With great excitement I saw the C17 land on the ice runway on Monday afternoon
and before I knew it we were winging it back to Christchurch. It all seemed so
sudden, but here I am in the 'normal world' once again. It was a surreal
experience to step off the aircraft 5 hours later at 10PM that night. Outside
was dark, yet we'd just celebrated the final sunset a few days earlier at Scott
Base as they enter another four months of 24 hour daylight. Hence the
unfamiliar feeling of darkness once again. The air felt hot, wet and heavy.
It felt both unusual and great to be home. Seeing large numbers of people and
cars was uncomfortable and I quickly wished I was back in the safe confines of
Scott Base. My re-integration into society may take some time.
So far everyone has been asking what it was like and would I go back. Hard to
describe in few words, though I particularly enjoyed the company and support
of my winter family, the winter project work was interesting and varied plus
the environment cannot be described in words. Actually, that's a lie. It's
usually cold and miserable, but on a sunny day with no wind, it's actually
pretty special as the results of my mediocre photography skills may suggest.
And would I go back? We'll all have to wait and see, although I'm not saying
no at this stage.
To all my many followers, friends, colleagues, managers and family; thanks for
your support and contact throughout the season. The many kind Emails from
everyone certainly helped to make the many dark days of winter feel a lot less
Some seals by the Scott Base pressure ridges during a final walk around on
10 minutes drive from Scott Base was a waiting C17 that had just been unloaded.
Boarding time. There were only 2 of us from Scott Base on the flight, plus
about 8 Americans.
There was also no return cargo, so the return flight was just about empty.
23/10/11: Hard to believe, but it's nearly at an end.
Tomorrow afternoon, with a bit of luck, I'll be on the C17 flying back to
my home in Christchurch. For some reason my name is on the "northbound flight
list" but it's somehow missing from the passenger manifest. I'll have to look
into that with some urgency.
It's been a fairly relaxed week for me as Hayden, my replacement for 2011/2012,
takes the reins. We finished the last of the handover details yesterday and he's
getting quite confident with most things now. Last Tuesday we installed the
radio equipment at the Black Island remote HF receive site, that all went well.
Some bad weather and high helicopter demands resulted in flight cancellations
for the last half of the week so Hayden might have to do the remaining summer radio
site installs by himself. I feel a bit bad leaving him to it, but realistically
if I keep sticking around due to these delays and other jobs that keep cropping up;
then I'll never get home.
We celebrated the 2011 final sunset party in the Scott Base bar last night, so it's
24 hour sunlight once again. The celebration was fairly tame in comparison to the
same party we had at this time last year, although the bar was serving cocktails
made from snow which kept things interesting.
I'm happy to be leaving tomorrow, but sad at the same time to be leaving Scott Base
which has been my home for the last 13 months. Some of our winter crew hope to have
a catch-up in Christchurch next weekend, so I'm looking forward to that as well.
Yet another pressure ridges photo with Mt Erebus (background centre) and Castle
Rock (background left). This view is from the helicopter prior to landing at
Some people engaging in a bit of seal watching on the sea ice by Scott Base.
Flying into Scallop Hill at our remote HF radio receiver site at Black Island
to install the radio equipment for the summer season.
The new regulation and DC distribution board mounted at Black Island. It's
particularly rewarding to see this and many other winter projects being installed
and working. Fingers crossed, everything has worked right first time so far.
My former manager, Christine, from Tait Custom Integration with her 'right first
time' initiative would have been proud. New designs at remote sites have the
potential for many issues; hence I spent a lot of time testing everything as
thoroughly as possible.
The departing passenger list on the whiteboard in the Scott Base main hallway.
After seeing hundreds of other people come and go over the last year, it's
finally my turn.
16/10/11: It's been a very emotional week as nearly all of
the winter staff who have been my close friends and family for the last 12 months
flew home to NZ on Friday the 14th. So all that remain from our winter bunch is
Molly the electrician, the two Antarctic Heritage Trust crew and myself.
Handover with the summer staff is all but complete although I have another week
to spend with Hayden, my replacement, on installing radio sites and final handover
details. Still a bit to go, but he's learning quickly.
Depending on the weather and how other things go, I'd like to return to NZ with
Molly on the 24th of October. Will see how that works out. With the sad departure
of our winter crew, I've suddenly reached the point where I really want to go home
At long last our officially framed winter photo was mounted on the wall of Scott
Base yesterday. The full resolution version can be downloaded
as a 1.4MB PDF file.
With continued nice weather yesterday evening, it was time for the first pressure
ridges walk I'd had in months. I thoroughly enjoyed the winding trail through the
shapely masses of ice just a few minutes walk from Scott Base.
The wind farm viewed from the pressure ridges with the lowering sun in the background.
Another week or so and the sun will remain above the horizon until late April 2012.
In support of the All Blacks and the Rugby World Cup we took this photo on the 9th
of October which ended up featuring on the national TVNZ news. This is a mixture of
the new summer crew and our old winter crew from last year. I'm in the centre of
the photo directly above the "BA" of the Scott Base sign.
9/10/11: The first week of the new summer season has been fairly
hectic as expected. I'm actually enjoying it as opposed to hiding in the corner due
to all the new and unfamiliar people about. It had been planned to fly the new crew
down in two lots; but because of the storm last Monday, we received all 29 of the new
crew on Tuesday. There are a few known faces from last season in the new bunch, so
great to see them again. Everyone is very friendly and enthusiastic which makes the
handover process between our winter crew and the new people a lot easier.
My handover to the new guy, Hayden, is in full swing. While he's a bit green in some
areas, he's at least picking things up very quickly. We've got a project of fitting a
new antenna tracking system to our satellite station next week, more handover and
training followed by a bit of systems commissioning on my side. Then finally I might
someday return to the real world at the end of October or early November. Less than a
month to go, I can't believe how the time has flown.
The daylight hours continue to grow every day; sunrise today at 5:30AM and set at 10PM.
In a couple of weeks it'll be permanent daylight once again but for now we're seeing
some brilliant sunrises and sunsets. Thanks to Mike M for these fantastic photos.
Just when I thought I'd photographed Scott Base from nearly every conceivable angle,
Mike took this evening photo of the Hatherton Lab at the west end of Scott Base.
Here's Hayden, who will be doing my job for the next year. About time I had a minion
to do my bitch work!
The official winter to summer handover ceremony held at the Scott Base flagpole on
Saturday afternoon was a moving moment for myself and the other winter staff, some of
whom will be returning home to NZ next week.
2/10/11: With the summer crew just a day or two away it was time to give the
place a decent tidy up. That included yet more snow shovelling. Certainly looking forward to
seeing some friendly and enthusiastic new faces.
I'm running out of things to say about snow, but the sunshine and calm days are most welcome.
The compacted snow blocking this doorway took nearly two hours to clear, some rough going.
The north side of Scott Base, looking east.
I celebrated my 2nd consecutive birthday on the ice yesterday, 33 years young. Also just over a year
since we landed here on the 30th of September last year. Thanks... I think, to Lance for the 'gay'