11 November 2004

A Day at New Harbor!

Today was the first day of work after the rush of arriving and setting up at New Harbor. The setting up yesterday went well and it turns out that the only thing we forgot to bring are the backpacks to hold our tanks. Thankfully, Sam Bowser’s group, specifically Doug and Henry, were kind enough to lend Stacy and Jenn backpacks to dive with today. Since two out of six of us are sick (and now myself is included in this tally) we are short handed diving both in people, due to illness, and holes, doe to the slow process of melting, so the inconvenience of lacking tank backpacks is dwarfed by the other problems. Packs will be sent out tomorrow if the helicopters can fly.

The main other tasks of the day was fueling. Although the holes that we are diving out of here are blasted with dynamite, we have to remelt the bottom section which has already started to close up on us. The extent of this re-annealing varies by hole but at every hole it takes between one and three days of keeping the hole melter, or Hotsie running. It runs out of fuel every three hours so this is no little task, especially when you have two Hotsies going, one near by and one an hour away by snowmobile. The snowmobile terrain is not smooth. It is either ice or ice covered with a thick layer of dirt from “the storm” of the year. This storm had wind gusts over 160mph. The reason they know it got to 160mph is because that is at what wind the anemometer (wind meter) blew away.

Jenn ready to head off and fuel the hostie. Notice the stylish ear warmers to dish out the tunes and block out the drone of snowmobile on ice.

At New Harbor there are only two ways to get items: 1) a traverse that leaves McMurdo a long time before we get here or 2) helicopters. Anything we forget or need that is different goes by the later. Since helicopters are only so big we end up sling loading quite a bit of stuff. Sling loads are big cargo nets hung beneath the Helo and then set down right before they land. Normally they have the line is hooked up before they take off but in certain circumstances they need someone to clip the item to the bottom of the helicopter while it is in flight. Today Bob got to do just that. He has done this many times before, and gone through training on it, so it is no big deal for him but it sure looked cool to the rest of us.

The other not so great event of the day was the flooding of our video camera lights. There is a saying when it comes to anything that goes under water, “It’s not if it is going to flood it is when is it going to flood.” Although this is an unfortunate event the lights are one of the more in-expensive pieces of gear that could have flooded (less than a quarter of the cost if the video housing had flooded.) The worst thing about this is it impedes our ability to collect video data but we can still collect stills with our trusty (knock on wood) film camera. On the right is a picture of the lights which we hope we can fix but that is a rather far off hope.

That was the day. But it doesn’t end when we are fueling the Hotsies. We take shifts throughout the night making the drive. Thankfully it is beautiful in both weather and scenery.

Lets see the next day!