Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting ready for Winter over

As the Austral-Summer nears its end and a sunset is only 21 days away, McMurdo is a buzz of people preparing to head off the ice, talking of plans to vacation, seeing family, etc.  There are a few though that have just arrived.  These folks are a special breed.  The few are around 120 or so that winter-over.  By choice.  You just can't abandon the base as some projects are monitored year round on the science side of thing, the rest are mainly keeping the place running.  Literally.  Keeping furnaces lit, checking pipes, etc. 

One of the big preparations before the winter over is getting the once a year delivery of our life blood, fuel.  As green as this place is, it still requires around 6 million gallons of fuel (mainly aviation) to get along.  Its not as easy as it may seem however--if anyone thought it was easy out there.  You see the Ross Sea is Frozen.  We're about 20 miles from the ice edge.  How do you get the fuel here?  In comes the ice breaker Oden.
Oden in the turning basin

Oden in the main channel
 Oden arrived here about the same day I did 2 weeks ago and has been non-stop clearing the channel.  The idea is to break up the sea ice and hope for a good wind in the right direction and it will blow out most of the ice-sluree to open sea.  That hasn't quite happened yet however the tanker has arrived and is awaiting the pier to be prepared.

Our fuel a mile off shore waiting to come in.  Scott's hut and Vince's cross in the foreground.
There in lies another tricky situation.  The pier.  Our pier is a shaped ice sheet.  Right now the ship can't come in because she's too big and too much draft for the current "shape" of the edge of the pier.

Charges being placed on the ice pier
The beauty of ice is, if you don't like the shape of something you can adjust it.  Well, there is a big shelf that juts out under the current pier that smaller vessels had no problem with however this deep draft tanker is at risk of breaching the hull is it comes in like this.  Unfortunately it was not realized until yesterday that it would be a problem.  Ooops.  So in the meanwhile the divers have been down apparently setting up some shaped charges to knock the entire edge off the pier and have a flat sheer section all the way down.  Hopefully I can catch them when them do blow it as it should be fairly impressive. 

Anyhow, a busy day here.  Meeting after meeting.  No fun stuff unfortunately.  The weather finally lifted today so we're getting some missions done from our recent backlog.  Well, I'm off for now.  Take care all!

No comments: