Archive for the ‘SA Aghulas’ Category

Brief news snippets

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

It has been very busy aboard for the last few days, so I haven’t had much time to write.  I’ll try to put together something solid in the next day or so, as I hope things will be quieter.  Watch this space.

We sighted the ice-shelf’s most northern protuberance (a place called Trolltunga) after managing to get unstuck, restuck and destuck several times.  We celebrated Christmas at midnight on the 24th, stuck once again in thick pack ice containing remnants of last-year’s bay ice. Based on the foul ice conditions at the German base (their construction ship is still stuck, and all work is frozen, har har) we had decided to make for the ice-shelf, bulldozing a ramp if necessary.  In the small hours of the morning, we managed to get under way once again when the high tide spread the ice.  Finally, we reached a polynia (open stretch of water in the pack-ice due to slightly warmer up currents) that had been visible on satellite photographs, and steamed up to the shelf.  The scale is almost indescribable.  I sat on the monkey bridge and worked out that one ‘berg, which had broken off from the shelf last year, holds about 20 billion litres of water.  That’s enough for all processes, washing, cooking, cleaning and drinking for our whole ship (similar to a small village) for 3000 years… and that’s just one ‘berg.  The ice shelf stretches from horizon to horizon, too high to see over from the highest mast aboard, unbroken and forbidding.  As Christmas Day passed in lazy celebration under heavy skies, we steamed along the shelf to the RSA Bukta (off-loading point), where we found the remains of last-year’s ramp.  One significant crack was visible from the ship, but there was uncertainty regarding whether the ramp was salvageable.  To do so would save days of work.  The weather, however, prevented the helicopters from operating, and anyway, it was Christmas. (more…)

Christmas Wishes

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Here is Ross’s Christmas card sent from the boat:

Spirits on-board are rising again.  We’ve managed to escape the ice after four days entrapment, and it looks as if all goes well that our Christmas present will be arrival at the Ice Shelf.  I can’t write much, but with Christmas goodwill I’ve persuaded our radio officer (aka Sparks) to allow me to send this small ‘Christmas Card’ – hope you’ll accept it in lieu of a real present. 

Christmas Card


Friday, December 21st, 2007

S 68°14.331  W 002°18.220


Sitting in the passenger lounge during bar hours is definitely not my usual haunt.  Typing away on a laptop could be interpreted as antisocial, but fortunately the precedent has already been set by others.  The lounge is a delightful pot pourri of characters, all seeking entertainment to stave off the growing sense of boredom: although at around 68°S, only 120 nautical miles from our planned destination at the German base, Neumayer, we are currently stuck in the ice.   The floes have been thick, as predicted, but we made good progress until two days ago, when the ship ground to a halt in ice more than a metre thick.  The three nautical miles progress we made yesterday, using all the tricks in the book, has been lost today as the current takes us backwards.  The frustration amongst many passengers is almost palpable.  Scientists whose yearâ??s work rests on data from this season have good reason to be on edge as they attack their laptop keyboards; the Challenger drivers and â??dozer operators, bereft of anything to do, fill one corner of the lounge near the bar with boisterous poker.  For now, we must bide our time – we just aren’t an icebreaker.