Friday, 18 April 2014

Saturday 19th April 2014

By now I should be back on Terra Australis, paying for my own coffee and sleeping in a non-rolling bed. I’m not too sure what my plans are yet? I might hang around Hobart for three or four days sight-seeing or head off on Sunday for a few nights in Victoria. It just depends which way the wind blows. After a few nights in Victoria I will fly back home to Perth. When back in Perth I will update the blog pages from Mawson to Hobart with some photos taken during the voyage and also some of the Arrival Ceremony in Hobart and then that’s it, the end of My Antarctic Adventure.

“Thanks for coming”

~ Craig ~




Voyage 6, Aurora Australis RTA Hobart Saturday 19 April 2014

Passenger Disembarkation Program

(Please note timings are subject to change)

All Passengers bags to be lined up in the Tween deck prior to coming alongside

  • 1230 Vessel berthed alongside Macquarie No 3 Wharf, Hobart
  • 1245 Customs/Quarantine Clearance - all passengers to report to the E Deck conference room for Customs Clearance. Once cleared by Customs passengers to proceed to the port side mess for Quarantine clearance of baggage.
Upon Clearance Passenger disembark the vessel and transit to Macquarie No 2 Cruise Ship Terminal to meet family and friends and for the Arrival Ceremony/badge presentation. Passengers are to disembark as one group (AAD Shipping representatives will escort all passengers off the vessel once final clearance from Customs/Quarantine). Passengers may carry a day pack down the gangway but must have two hands free to hold the gangway.
  • 1400 (approx.) AAD Arrival Ceremony and badge presentation conducted inside Macquarie No 2 Cruise Ship Terminal.
Passenger cabin baggage will be slung off the vessel during the ceremony and will be available for collection inside the Macquarie No 2 CBC (Cargo Biosecurity Centre) main entrance at the completion of the Arrival Ceremony. There will be no access to the Secure Wharf area, there will be no vehicles allowed on the Secure Wharf area. The Macquarie No 2 Cruise Ship Terminal will be open from 12 noon for the use of family and friends.

Welcome home
Before & after
Life back to normal

Friday 18th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Clearing skies, winds around 30 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 4 meter westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Nil

LATITUDE: 45.29S LONGITUDE: 141.08E

HEADING: 63 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 380nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 1019nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 12.5c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 12.6c

The conditions for the remainder of yesterday and during the night did not swing round as much as we would have hoped, and whilst the seas were nice to us compared to the last few nights, we did not make the headway we would have liked. The result of this is that our arrival into Hobart has been pushed back by a couple of hours, and we will now be alongside Macquarie No. 3 wharf Hobart at 1230 hours tomorrow, Saturday 19 April 2014.

I woke up this morning with some light coming in from my port hole and turned over to look at my watch. It was eleven o’clock and I couldn’t believe I had slept so long. I must have been exhausted. Lunch today was a special spread with lots of sea food. I enjoyed some prawns, fish, mussels and squid rings. After lunch I packed a few things up and then went up onto the bridge to see what conditions were like on my radio.

 Conditions seemed to be terrific once again but the transmit audio wasn’t working for some reason. I messed about for an hour or so and then decided to just pack everything up. I can’t complain having finally given up the ghost on the second last day from port. I spent the afternoon down loading some more documentaries and I had a good long talk to Graham, whose job I might be taking in Papua New Guinea. He showed me lots of photos of the place and equipment. Talk about a coincidence. Dinner was also a terrific spread with crayfish, oysters, prawns, duck and three cans of light beer each. Later I did some more down loading and watched some movies. Conditions have been reasonable all day and pretty good tonight also, so I think I should get another nice sleep again tonight.

The voyage has been a total success and there was a bit of back slapping going on tonight. Final statistics were 208 helicopter sorties, around 250 flight hours, 148,627kg of cargo flown ashore to Mawson – which includes 47,048L of SAB and 8,101kg of cargo back loaded to the ship. All achieved in nine days of actual flying without incident.

P/S

Yes I know I have stuffed up the distance to go !!


Thursday 17th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast with the odd rain shower this morning, clearing in the afternoon. West to north westerly winds around 30 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 4 – 5 metre north westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Nil

LATITUDE: 48.08S LONGITUDE: 132.09E

HEADING: 59 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 355nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 1399nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 9c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 10c

Conditions remained pretty ordinary throughout the night. I went to sleep about ten thirty and woke up thinking I had managed to get a good night’s sleep only to discover it was only one thirty. Lucky I managed to get back to sleep after a while. By morning conditions were slightly better and are improving as the day goes on, so it’s nice not to be rolling around as much as we were.

We completed the last of our time zone changes overnight, I forgot though and missed out on lunch. Once we cleared the ice pack, we’ve had to make six time zone changes on the way home, advancing our clocks forward one hour every second evening. So we are now on Australian Eastern Standard time, any wonder I’m confused.

Today all expeditioners had to return all their Antarctic clothing and kit, as it is no longer required given the balmy temperatures we now have. Once this equipment is back at AAD Head Office, it will be checked to make sure it’s still OK, fully laundered and then re-issued to expeditioners heading south during the 2015 Antarctic summer season.

With the final time zone change having occurred and the return of our Antarctic clothing it’s obvious we must be getting close to Hobart now. We have an ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) at Macquarie No. 3 Wharf Hobart of 1000hrs on Saturday 19 April 2014. Hopefully Hobart puts on a nice autumn day for our trip back up the Derwent River.

Conditions on the radio were quite good today and I made quite a few calls across Australia on 10m including two mobile stations. I have had a few US stations chasing me on 20m, but conditions weren’t so good today on that band.




Wednesday 16th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast, mist, rain, sunshine at times, west to north westerly wind at around 40 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 6 – 7 metre west to north westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Nil

LATITUDE: 50.25S LONGITUDE: 123.54E

HEADING: 65 degrees

SPEED: 17 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 384nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 1399nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 7c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 7c

We continue to make very good progress, although the “furious fifties” are having one last lash at us and trying to make conditions as uncomfortable as possible. As predicted, the swell and wind picked up overnight, and with them hitting us almost directly side on, they made the ship do some pretty big side to side rolls during the night. This made sleeping impossible and there were quite a few bleary eyed people getting around this morning. All night long I slid from one end of the bed to the other, hitting my head on the wardrobe and then hitting my feet on the wall while things crashed to the floor all around me. Occasionally on a very big roll you would hear a large crash or someone scream down the corridor.

At nine in the morning I got up to go to the toilet and I must have been so tired I fell asleep waking just in time for lunch. Once again I spent the whole day sorting out photos and computer files. I did spend a bit of time up on the bridge watching us smash through the huge waves and I also went outside for an hour or so and took a lot of movie footage of the extreme conditions. Today conditions remain pretty much the same, although as the day goes on the wind and swell are tending to be a little more behind us now instead of directly side on, not enough to get rid of the big rolls though, but it is improving.

After dinner I had a sked with a bloke in the States but I was late and missed him. Conditions on 20 & 40m tonight were awesome and I had a chat with a bloke in Montana for over an hour as well as a heap of Aussie guys too. A hail storm came over and the noise went up to 10dB/9 for a short time. Conditions on 40m were excellent with stations all over Australia coming through loud and clear. I was very tired though so hopefully tonight I will get a good sleep and spend the day & night on the radio tomorrow. I’m not counting on it though, as we are rolling very heavy again tonight. If only the beds pointed bow to stern and they were fitted with attached sleeping bags or seat belts. Tonight’s going to be hell again I just know it.


Tuesday 15th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast, rain, heavy mist. North to north westerly winds at 10 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: Confused 2-3m swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Nil

LATITUDE: 52.55S LONGITUDE: 104.36E

HEADING: 65 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 366nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 1783nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 4.6c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 3.7c

DEPTH: 4138m

We continue to make good speed through the Southern Ocean, although we have been running into a head wind since yesterday evening making things on board uncomfortable and slowing us down a little. Once again I had another terrible sleep last night. We could be in for some larger swell overnight so let’s see what happens.

I was up early this morning and I got a lot completed. I answered all my emails and completed and sent off my annual report. I wrote out a new CV, down loaded six new movies, finished cleaning up some files on my computer and did a bit more photo sorting.

Outside is foggy and miserable as we have now crossed the Antarctic convergence zone. After lunch I went up onto the bridge to have a look around and I couldn’t see anything, so I went back to my room and spent the rest of the day sorting out my photos. I am about 95% complete now with my photos and I just have to sort out my AAD files and I’m pretty organized. I still have my music files to finish sorting though. After all day sitting behind the computer I am going to treat myself to one of the new movies I copied today.


Monday 14th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast, winds around 15 knots from the North West.

SEA CONDITIONS: 3 m North westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Occasional large ice berg and small bergie bits

LATITUDE: 55.33S LONGITUDE: 104.11E

HEADING: 62 degrees

SPEED: 17 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 382nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 2149nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 1.7c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 1.6c

DEPTH: 3216m

Last night I had the most terrible sleep or lack of. I think I was just drifting in and out of consciousness all night without actually sleeping. As a result I got up around lunch time and shortly after eating I fell asleep again for about four hours, so I don’t like my chances of having a good long sleep tonight.

The long transit back to Hobart continues, but we are still making very good time thanks to the relatively calm conditions we are experiencing in these latitudes in the Southern Ocean for this time of year. We are monitoring a large low pressure system that may cause conditions to worsen in a couple of days’ time, but hopefully we can get well out of its way in time and out run it. If this occurs we may be able to have a relatively calm transit for the remainder of the week back to Hobart.
 
We are still seeing the odd iceberg, some quite large, which is a nice final reminder of where we have been given we’ll be seeing them less and less as the week goes on. I completed sorting out the files on my hard drives and now all I have left to do is finish sorting out my photos and finish sorting out my music files, my two least favorite jobs. After writing up my blog notes for the past two days it was now past dinner time so I had better run if I want something to eat. Our clocks go forward again tonight for the third time so I must remember to do that after dinner.




Sunday 13th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast with snow showers, winds averaging 20 - 25 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 3 m west nor westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Occasional large ice berg and small bergie bits

LATITUDE: 57.58S LONGITUDE: 93.53E

HEADING: 73 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 339nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 2149nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: 1.2c

SEA TEMPERATURE: 2c

DEPTH: 2954m

We continue our transit through the Southern Ocean at a good rate, even with weather conditions picking up a little yesterday afternoon and evening which bought on a little more rolling of the ship. As predicted, the swell and wind is slightly behind us now which, whilst still causing a lot of roll and bumps, is helping us maintain a good speed. We are now into the “furious fifties” latitude, which normally mean some bumpy sea conditions and rumor has it we may be facing some big seas by mid-week.

Today the air temperature climbed to the positive side of the thermometer and I spent some time out on deck in the very mild conditions where I saw lots of ice bergs. It’s been a long time since I have felt such warm weather. There were many snow showers throughout the day with big feather like flakes. It always seems strange when it snows over the ocean.

I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up my hard drives on my computer. I just couldn’t bring myself to look at photos today. This motion of the ship really makes you tired and lethargic. I did a lot of reading today on antenna fundamentals and transmission lines and it amazes me that I still have such an interest after working thirty four years in the industry. After dinner I watched a good film on the capture of Bin Laden.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Saturday 12th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast with snow showers this morning, clearing this afternoon. South-South Easterly Winds at 30 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 2 - 3 m westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Occasional ice berg

LATITUDE: 60.22S LONGITUDE: 83.29E

HEADING: 60 degrees

SPEED: 15 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 289nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 2488nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: -1.7c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -0.63c

DEPTH: 2390m

We continue to make very good progress on our voyage back to Hobart although today is a little rough as we smash head on into the swell. We had an abandon ship exercise this morning with everyone having to muster out on the helideck. There were a few green faces among us.

Most people are staying in their cabins today and not venturing out and there is a lot of chundering going on with either the smell of chunder or disinfectant wafting through the corridors. The conditions should improve overnight as the wind change direction which will hopefully result in the wind and swell being behind us.

There has been a marked increase in the air temperature as we progress towards Hobart, with the air temperature rising twenty three degrees since Monday. We now have an air temperature of only -1.8c, and water temperatures have now climbed into positive figures. My cabin is now so much warmer and it’s time to get my shorts out again. I spent all morning sorting out photos to the point where I can’t stand to look at them anymore. While everyone is lying on their bunk I thought it would be a good time to do some washing.

We will cross our second time zone tonight and will have to put our clocks forward an hour again. Darn, I forgot to turn on the washing machine. I spent a bit of time up on the bridge today watching the huge bow smash into the large swell and send huge waves and spray in all directions. It was rather uncomfortable so after a while I went to see what was happening out there in radio land. Nothing, not a thing, propagation was dead so I went back to my cabin and watched a few documentaries and wrote up my blog notes. At least there is less movement on the lower decks.

This weather drains you of all your energy and motivation and you just want to lie down or sleep. I am going to have to go into rehab when I get back to wean myself off cuposoup’s. It’s a habit I picked up working out in the field to help stay warm.

This ship seems to have a soul and talks and sings to itself. It has a passive anti-roll system with a series of holes through the hull and they squeak and sing like a whale does, sometimes even letting out a scream. It’s quite disturbing at first but like the banging in my roof you get used to it.

Its official, I’m now hot and have to take my shirt off. I can just imagine how hot Perth is going to be. We are expected to arrive in Hobart on the 19th of April during Easter holidays which is causing havoc already as people with cars in storage can’t get them out and all accommodation in Hobart is fully booked out as well as all flights and the ferry to Melbourne. After fourteen months away we have timed our arrival perfectly.




Friday 11th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast, winds averaging 20 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: 1 - 2 m westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Odd large ice berg and small bergie bits

LATITUDE: 61.53S LONGITUDE: 75.53E

HEADING: 72 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 296nm

DISTANCE TO GO: 2777nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: -7c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -0.3c

DEPTH: 2390m

It is notably warmer on board now the outside temperature has changed from minus twenty to minus seven, although my doona insulation in my porthole was iced onto the glass this morning and there was ice all around the porthole, so it is still quite cool.

I had a lazy morning and I finished reading my book in bed, then I got up for a shower and spent a couple of hours doing some research on my computer. After lunch I went up onto the bridge just at the right time to see a huge ice berg floating past. I couldn't help thinking this would probably be the last ice berg I will ever see.

Weather conditions have been rather favorable and we are taking full advantage of this with the ship running both engines to give us maximum speed at around 16 knots. Conditions are expected to deteriorate during the night though, and whilst we would slow down at night any way at these latitudes due to potential icebergs, the wind is forecast to swing round onto the nose, so that will slow us down with an expected swell of six to eight meters. If we get these rough conditions tonight I would expect half the people will be sea sick tomorrow.

Radio conditions today were very poor and I couldn't get anybody to answer my call. We crossed our first time zone last night and we had to put our clocks forward an hour. After dinner Luc and I watched a few documentaries down in what used to be the old bar that has now been ripped out.




Thursday 10th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Overcast, winds averaging 15 knots

SEA CONDITIONS: Low westerly swell

ICE CONDITIONS: Nil

LATITUDE: 64.03S LONGITUDE: 64.36E

HEADING: 68 degrees

SPEED: 16 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 191nm

AIR TEMPERATURE: -9.5c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -0.66c

DEPTH: 1572m

Once again I had a sleepless night and woke up very tired. Early this morning we cleared the actual ice edge, and we took this opportunity to slow the ship down and do some trawling for Krill. For many years the AAD has been running a Krill research project that is designed to focus on obtaining life history information that can be used in managing the Krill fishery, which is the largest Antarctic fishery. These studies will enable scientists to gain key information on the impact of climate change on key aspects of Krill biology and ecology. The trawling we did this morning did result in us collecting just over 50 live Krill, that’s individual krill and not tons of krill. It’s just as well we are not fishing for a living.

The krill are now being cared for in one of the ship’s laboratories which has been set up as an aquarium for the Krill. Back in Hobart they will then be transferred to a larger aquarium at the AADs Head Office in Kingston.

Once the trawling was finished and equipment packed away, we commenced our long transit back to Hobart. We have over 2660nm to go now in a direct straight line from our current position to Hobart and at our current speed of sixteen knots that should have us arriving at Hobart sometime around the seventeenth of April. We have a large number of birds following our progress at the moment, most of them being Antarctic petrels and we continue to sight minke and wright whales.

I’ve had a headache since waking up this morning and I guess it’s because I’m tired and also caused by the swell. That means people will be getting sick shortly and remaining in their cabins. I had a quick chat to I bloke in Slovakia who I have been talking to all year, the propagation is not very good today.






Wednesday 9th April 2014

HEADING: 282

CURRENT SPEED: 3.5 knots

DISTANCE COVERED LAST 24 HOURS: 15 miles

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Skies clearing, sunny, 17 knot south-south easterly wind

AIR TEMPERATURE: -17c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -1.8c

ICE CONDITIONS: Backing and ramming through Heavy first year pack ice, large flows and rubble

Yesterday we continued to make slow progress through the heavy pack ice and as the day went on the weather deteriorated to a point where we had very little visibility as the snow and winds increased, so we turned the ship into the wind and just held the ship in that position. The pack itself is drifting in the direction we want to go, so by just holding position we were able to drift with it. So for very little effort we were able to make progress in the right direction at around 0.7 of a knot per hour.

This morning’s conditions have eased weather wise, and as the day goes on the clear skies and sunshine are returning. As soon as it was light enough we re-commenced the process of backing up and ramming through the pack ice, and again we are making slow but steady progress. We are hoping that Mother Nature will play the game and “open up” a few leads as the day goes on, but ice breaking is never easy. We are hoping to get through to the open water sometime in the next few days.

I had a bad night trying to get to sleep with a lot of things on my mind and I woke up very early also, so I am rather tired today. I just had a chat with Fred in Melbourne on 10m who was quite strong, but I think the bands a little fickle today.

In the late afternoon we sent a helicopter out to scout around for some leads and once again he put us on the right track and within an hour or so we were making progress, slowly at first and then the pack ice turned into fast ice that we could slowly slice through. Eventually the fast ice thinned and turned to plates, then frazzle and finally we were cruising ten knots through open grease ice.

After sailing for an hour or so through a long lead surrounded by lots of large bergs we entered back into the large plates and fast ice. I went up to the bow for a few hours to watch the ship smash these huge lumps of ice to smithereens. The raw power is amazing to watch and the sound is just as impressive. I was there on my own and every now and then there would be a small open pool and there would be three or four minkie whales coming up to breath. After dinner I stayed out on the bow until sunset and finally had to go inside when the skin around my eyes started to burn.

I had a nice hot shower and later we were traveling at ten knots through loose pack ice and the ship was now rocking with the deep ocean swell so maybe tomorrow all the ice will be gone.







Tuesday 8th April 2014


WEATHER CONDITIONS: Heavy first year pack ice, large flows and rubble. White out conditions and 30 knot wind.

LATITUDE: 66.02S LONGITUDE: 58.19E

AIR TEMPERATURE: -17c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -1.8c

DEPTH: 1022m

I woke this morning to see the same ice berg out of my port hole that I was looking at yesterday and realized the situation is not good. I had a lazy morning and eventually rolled out for lunch and a coffee. By now the ship had managed to turn around but I could still see the same ice berg from last night. I had a look at the satellite image and it all looked straight forward, we just had to keep following the lead between the fast ice and the pack ice and we would be in open water in no time, but things on the ground were totally different.

We are currently only about twenty five to thirty nautical miles from the open water, but it might as well be a thousand miles as we are not going anywhere. The ship has been stationary for most of the day and we are waiting for the wind and currents to hopefully open up a lead for us to move through, so I think we are going to conserve fuel for a while and play the waiting game. The radio has been dead most of the day but there were a few brief opening with good signals back to Perth, Thai Land, South Africa and Italy.


Satellite sea ice photo

Some statistics of the resupply

All up on the voyage to date we have conducted 216 helicopter flights from the Aurora Australis helideck. At Mawson we transferred ashore over 130,000 kg of cargo to the station, including 47,084 L of SAB (Special Antarctic Blend Diesel), and back loaded over 7,700 kg of return to Australia (RTA) cargo from Mawson station. As well as retrieving the 2013 wintering team and deploying the 2014 winterers. All of this was achieved in 9 flying days, some of which were not even full flying days.



Monday 7th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Clearly skies and light winds.

LATITUDE: 66.08S LONGITUDE: 59.09E

AIR TEMPERATURE: -24c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -1.8c

DEPTH: 7754m

I woke to the sound of ice scraping against the side of the hull. Every now and then there would be a dull thud and you could feel the shock waves echoing up and down the hull and feel the hull bending and flexing. I looked at my clock and it was just past five o’clock so I laid back and tried to go back to sleep. It was useless, as I was too excited, so I got up to look out my porthole. There were three huge search lights moving around out front as we pushed our way through the chunky pack ice while overhead the sky was full of auroral curtains. I didn’t want to miss out on this so I jumped into the shower and then headed up to the bridge to take it all in. Once the sun came up we managed to pick our way through leads all morning seeing lots of Adélie penguins and minki whales as we went along.

Every now and then we would hit a thick patch of pack ice doing ten knots that would stop us dead in our tracks requiring us to back up and hit it again at full steam. Our luck couldn’t last for ever and around one o’clock we had to stop and send out a helicopter to do a reconnaissance of the area. The helicopter reconnaissance paid off and after a couple of hours we were off again heading in another direction to follow a new lead. This new track took us past a huge ice berg that must have been many kilometres long but by four o’clock in the afternoon we were totally stuck and the ship was continuously backing back and ramming the ice with very little headway.
 
At five o’clock we had a BBQ outside on the trawl deck in minus twenty five degrees to celebrate the successful resupply. We were given a couple of light beers each but these froze solid in your hand in about two minutes so you pretty much had to scull them if you wanted a drink.
The best thing was being down only about two meters above sea level and watching the raw power of the ship trying to smash its way through the pack ice. Some of the chunks of ice were massive and it was quite noisy. The ship went back and forth constantly for hours not making any progress at all and later I went up onto the bridge to chat with the master before going to bed.







Monday, 7 April 2014

Sunday 6th April 2014

WEATHER CONDITIONS: Mainly clearly skies, some light scattered cloud. Light winds.

LATITUDE: 66.22S LONGITUDE: 60.00E

AIR TEMPERATURE: -24c

SEA TEMPERATURE: -1.8c

DEPTH: 1754m

Last night there was another great display of auroras all night and some of us got some great photos braving the minus twenty eight degree temperature.

We had another great day of helicopter operations yesterday with 30 flights conducted which resulted in another 24,159kg of cargo taken ashore. We also back loaded another 4,866kg of cargo from Mawson.

This morning we have started helicopter operations again, and today will be our final day of operations. The first flight from the Aurora Australis saw the last item of Mawson cargo transferred ashore, which means we have been able to fully discharge all the Mawson cargo that was loaded onto the vessel. We are currently back loading the last RTA cargo from Mawson, as well as bringing back to the ship the remaining ground support personnel that are on station. Once that is complete we will conduct an ice reconnaissance using the helicopters, which will not only let us determine the condition of the ice we need to get back through, but also pinpoint the best course for the ship to take through the ice.

Radio propagation today was quite lousy, but I did manage to contact two stations in Namibia.

By mid-afternoon we had all the helicopters safely stowed in the hanger, and the ship then commenced to turn around and to start breaking its way out of the fast ice so we can get on our way back to Hobart. I spent hours out on deck in minus twenty four watching in amazement as the ship repeatedly rammed full steam ahead into the one meter thick fast ice smashing it to pieces like huge chunks of Styrofoam cracking and exploding under the huge pressure. The massive prop wash shooting out the back of the ship looked like rapids in a raging river. It took over two hours just to turn around and to start with it was really slow going, but eventually the speed increased slowly until we were doing about eight knots and there was ice smashing in all directions. It was a rough ride and very noisy as you could imagine but gradually the ice thinned and by the evening we were gliding through the ice at over twelve knots.

At eight o’clock we watched an amazing documentary about the Americans raising a Russian submarine during the cold war and later I worked on my blog until late.

Around eleven o’clock we entered the pack ice with lots of banging and hard jarring. I went into the bridge to see what was going on and I stayed a while watching the large chunky pack ice illuminated by the three huge spotlights as the fairy dust sparkled in the light beams. A short while later the master decided it was safer to park up for the night and to navigate his way out during daylight so I retired to my chilly cabin to read my book for a while.











Saturday 5th April 2014

POSITION: 67 02 S, 62 09 E

HEADING: 139

CURRENT SPEED (KNOTS): 0

WEATHER CONDITIONS: predominantly clear skies with some light scattered cloud, winds 5-10 knots.

AIR TEMPERATURE: -22.5

SEA TEMPERATURE: -1.8

ICE CONDITIONS: Parked in fast ice, numerous ice bergs

It’s a lovely day today and flying has resumed. If we get a good day of flying both today and tomorrow we will be departing for Hobart Monday evening, which means heading out into the Southern Ocean in late April which should be exciting. At least we will be running with the sea all the way home. It will probably take about three days to smash our way out of the ice to get to the open ocean and then another thirteen days to get back to Hobart, so we should be back in Hobart around the 22nd or 23rd of April.

Radio conditions don’t appear to be very good today and so far I have only had a chat with a guy in New South Wales. Things picked up a little on the radio, but it was a pretty quiet day with only ten contacts in the log today. I had a nice chat to my mate David on Marion Island and he is about to depart also. Another great day of flying and now I’m off to watch a movie.




Friday 4th April 2014

Another great day of flying with lots achieved. At the completion of operations yesterday, our discharge/back loading stats was as follows:

- 36 ship to shore flights conducted

- 31,119kg of cargo transferred ashore

- 3,084kg of Priority 2 RTA now stowed on the vessel

- All of the remaining containerised SAB has now been transferred ashore

- 3 passengers were brought back to the vessel

Statistics wise, here’s where we are at:

- 100% of Priority 1.1 cargo discharged

- 100% of Priority 1.2 cargo discharged

- 99% of Priority 1.3 cargo discharged

- 100% of the IBCs that contain SAB have been discharged from the vessel

Due to the different sizes of IBCs we had, this equates to 47,048L of SAB delivered to station;

- 100% of Priority 1 RTA cargo stowed on the vessel

- 100% of Priority 2 RTA cargo stowed on the vessel

- 14 of the 15 2013 winterers are on the ship now

There’ll be no flying today as it’s pretty much a whiteout outside and the wind is blowing about thirty knots with lots of blowing snow. I spent pretty much all day on the radio working plenty of stations on 10 m all around the world including a few nice chats with South African stations, Dave in Albany and even Don before he got called away to light the BBQ.

Its freezing cold inside today and I have a doona stuffed into my port hole as insulation. I can’t wait to get back home and lay back in my spa with a nice cold beer. I’m doing a lot of reading too and really enjoying it.