Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Commuting to work

It was business as usual on the Shackleton, routines were well established and our homely floating fortress was cruising as she should be. It was all plain sailing as they say. The excitement was building, when was the ice coming? would there be any ice coming? what would it feel like sailing on ice? All our visions were about to be answered.....GGRRRR...BOOM..BANGGGGRRRR. This was the noise entering our ears, in the early hours of wednesday morning. A noise not to similar to airborne turbulance and grinding metal, whilst being in a lift with grit being fired at you from beneath, mmm very pleasant, but all in all exciting.

A 4000 ton ship laden with 500 tons of cargo, crashing down on the earths coldest ocean, is a very apparent noise. You don't sleep through the bashing and to top it, the sun never sets past the horizon, so its always light. This was it for the duration of our journey within Antarctica's frozen sea. There were moments of freedom from the grinding, banging, turbulant world we had just entered, moments, we all knew were the calm before the ice storm.

12.00 midnight, tue 19dec 06. The lowest the sun will get during the early summerAntarctic months. We had know entered the Antarctic circle 65 degrees 35.7 S, 001 degrees 025.3 W.

Its an amazing sight to see a forever waving tide of sea completly frozen. Then crack underneath you like viennetta ice cream. The ship seems to stumble and glide through the ice, depending on its mood. Sometimes we would slice through it like a flat dew pond, other times it requires Herculian force, rising above the ice, crushing it into the wash with its tonnage. The shades of ice glow and glisten, some are shades of white and grey others are hues of blues and some with orangey, rusty tinges, which is algae. Occassionally a slice of ice with flip over as the ship crashes into it, revealing wriggling krill, hungry for the algae.

A vertical shot of the hull cracking into the ice.

There are also those times when Mother nature gets the better of us! Initializing a term i like to call the triple RRR's, Repeat, Reverse, Ram. This highly evolved technique, requires immense skill (with a push of a button and a stick) and yes it usually comes up trumps, usually??

The ice here is at least 2 metres thick, and spreads out as far as the eye can see, in one clean sheet. As you can see the triple RRR manuvere, doesn't always work. Stopping us in our tracks, making every nut, bolt and weld grimmace at the shunt.

Me within the Antarctic circle.

Cracking our way through the sea ice, avoiding the icebergs.

Cliff edges of the Antarctic ice shelf.

This is for my lovly little one, don't you think he's cute? I'll try and smuggle him back in my bag for you? Happy Christmas. x

If i could ask you too imagine for a moment how large the southern ocean is surrounding Antarctica, what the chances are of seeing a seal? Quite good. The chances on the ship steering a course directly towards a seal basking on the sea ice, propelling the seal into a getaway frenzy, like Tom and Jerry, and smashing the seal into the frozen ocean with the ships hull. What are the chances? Of all the places in Antarctica for the seal to be laying, or of all the courses the ship could have steered, bet the seal never thought a 4000 ton ship would be squashing him?

For all those animal lovers, no our captain isn't an exwhaler or seal clubber, the seal immediately swam under the ship once the hull cracked its exit.


Little Sar said...

arrhhh I want that seal pup, how cute!!! Your pics are wicked wicked wicked, I cant believe what the boat has to get through! Can see that shaving isn't going to be a priority hey babe! It's nearly Christmas so sending you lots of Happy Christmas hugs xxxxxxx

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Yeah I noticed some bits of food in your beard, give it a wash.

Jazz said...

Amazing , photos get better and better ! Hope you are helping cook Christmas dinner . Love Dad and Sue

Mr Biggs said...

Dubber i never realised you was so clever! it reads like a micheal pallin journey. Quality !!!

Emily A said...

Hey Ant, Adam just showed us your site - fantastic pictures and very eloquently written - am impressed! Hope all is well and both me and Mike wish you a very merry Christmas - least you'll be having a white one! Take care Em x

Adam said...

Merry Christmes Dubs. Enjoy the white Christmas once you have finished unloading the boat.