17 November 2004

Hello All,

We are still at lovely New Harbor. The weather is beautiful and we are making great progress on what we have to get done. We finished up everything at Cape Bernacchi by picking up the our tent, survival cache, and the cookies that we use to cover the holes in the ice. The resident seal will be happy with our departure. Stacy and Bob took off across the rough ice to get this done. They only got stuck once but conveniently it was at the same time in two different places. Neither turned out to be a problem and both of the snow mobiles worked great.

While they were off closing that dive site the rest of us were doing random camp chores. Kathy was being the Queen of the Hotsie, distributing full jerry cans of fuel to it and making sure it was getting moved enough.
Jenn was looking at the plankton she collected the other day and to my joy she found a great polycheate larva (I love polychaetes.)

Mike was working on his update to appease his far away fans (and to avoid the gentle reminders from Jenn’s Grandfather.) We love the interest that you all show for our little updates.
And I was filling tanks. While at McMurdo we have the great Rob Robbins to fill all of our tanks that we use. Here we get to do it ourselves with a much slower compressor. The tanks are larger as well, so it is about an hour per set of two. Thankfully we have a nice heated hut to do this. Spending the hours emptying valves, swapping tanks, and listening to good tunes can be a nice break from the other chores.

Here are some pieces of the Scott tent after being sorted into the appropriate trash can
In the afternoon, Mike and I used two of the newly filled tanks to try and finish up the nearby site by removing the fence from under the ice. Not everything went as planned as the skirt (an old tent that we cut into strips and tied/zip tied to the bottom of the fence to bury and hold the buoyant net down) degraded badly with time and tore right off the bottom of net. It vaporized in our hands and so to get all of the chunks is going to take another dive. Although we had high hopes of finishing up at that site, getting the majority of the net out of the water still made it a success. Mike had the contact fall out of his eye halfway through the dive so we stuck closer than we normally do while on the bottom. He was happy to learn he still had no problem finding the hole with only one contact in since this has been a concern of his for the trip.
We finished melting the hole that we have been working on and so the last part of the day is moving the melter to what should be out last hole to melt (Yeeeeaaaahhhh!) Since it the destination is across the rough ice it took three people and quite a bit of time to tow the various pieces of gear in place for that. Plus, since this hole has not been blasted by Dynamite, we have to melt it from scratch by drilling a hole and putting the melting “finger” in it. We then pour water into the hole so it can conduct the heat straight to the ice for a quicker melt.

The highlights of many of the days are meals. We eat surprisingly well for being in the middle of nowhere for example:

For breakfast we had apple and cherry turnover’s made by Bob (with the usual accoutrements of chocolate.)

For lunch we had tuna melts on bagels made by Mike.

For dinner we had BBQ Sausages, with rice, tofu and brownies, thanks to Kathy.
We realized Stacy has finally lost it completely today when she was caught alphabetizing the spice rack. Although there were many a vintage of the same spices to combine and thus useful it is in the guide books as one of the warning signs of frost madness. The next sign of trouble is baking blue berry muffins for breakfast so hopefully her illness is progressing rapidly.


Lets see the next day!