14 November 2004

Helo. Day!
Or a day in my gloves!

Everyone except myself and Kathy have gone diving at Cape Bernacchi today. I was to have time to repair all the flooded equipment that has been steadily collecting and then oh yea we might get a few helo flights to bring fuel, water and take some of our empty barrels. I am looking forward to the bench time. Repairing flooded gear is a lot of cleaning then polishing then clean it again. It's steady but relaxing work. 

Our only remaining drinking water

The first helo to show today is 08Hotel. It has a sling load with a long plastic toboggan of a sled called a Siglin. Strapped within the sled are 2 empty gray water barrels. We need these for all our waste water as dumping anything on the ground or in the ocean is a big no no. As we untangle the cargo net we find to our delight 5 large jugs of water. This is the best news of the day so far. Our drinking water was down to about a gallon left. As 08Hotel flies away without landing, The voice of  31Lima crackles on the radio.

Gray Water storage

 Paul, the pilot of 31Lima, is a Brit. His voice over the radio is distinctive when he calls  inbound to New Harbor and 5 minutes out.  With him is our helo tech for the day, Ryan. he lands and shuts down.  After a short tea break we get to work on the to do list. 31Lima has been assigned to us for the day so it looks like my relaxing day planned for polishing corroded electrical connectors is now going to be a lot of glove time moving fuel barrels and building sling loads for the helo.

31Lima is an Aerospatiale Astar helicopter well suited for the rigors of Antarctic work

10 barrels of JP8 (it's a special low temp diesel fuel that powers most of the Antarctic program. 8,000,000 gallons a year are delivered by fuel tanker ship) arrive in sets of two with barley enough time for us to roll the 500lb barrels up the hill between loads. The good news is it's such a nice day we are stripped down to only sweaters

DSC_5388.JPG (2321815 bytes) The helo. softly sets down a net with 2 barrels in it, releasing the cable after it is slack. He then circles once and comes back, hovering over Ryan as he clips the next cable to the belly hook. Ryan scampers away as Paul slowly lifts the boxes and empty fuel barrels off the ground. When he is comfortable with the load he transitions the helicopter to forward climbing flight and we are left with silence, a little grit in our teeth and one more sling load behind us. The loads leaving the camp today are empty fuel barrels, about 15 of them, along with several large triwall boxes (basically 4 foot cube boxes constructed from three layers of corrugated cardboard), each crammed full of individual bags of varying size. The segregation categories are our waste:  burnables, plastic, light metal (mostly tin cans), glass, batteries, construction debris, cardboard, and food waste.  DSC_5380.JPG (2473003 bytes)
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The reason the word triwall makes sense 

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A short video of clipping the cable to the hook on the belly of the helicopter

 helo hookup .mpg 1.8MB

helo hookup .mov 272kb


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Our recycle corner

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As the early afternoon arrives, most of the loads have been shuttled. We still have one Hotsy out on the ice to move and two sets of barrels left near the dive shack. 08Hotel returns with Jack, the head of PHI (Petroleum Helicopters Inc. is the helo. contractor), at the controls. We load boxes, bags, poles, empty water containers and dive bags. The big bird leaves just as the divers return from a long trip over rough sea ice and hard day of diving at Cape Bernacchi. I haven't spent 5 minutes on my flooded light projects but it's been a good day. The returning divers hardly recognize the camp. Its new leaner look and the confidence gained from full water and fuel will help us concentrate on the diving.

After dinner the day seemed it might be over but talk of an evening dive progressed into planning and then into the suiting up. I have spoken enough of my dives so even though this was as always the highlight of my day I will leave you with some frame grabs from the video. Sorry about the quality.

Lets see the next day!

See you soon!   Bob