Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Doc stabbing me and Antarctica's Winds & skies

The start of July saw our young Doc. getting tired and restless of our well exercised safety record and lack of blood resulting injuries, and so conjured up this weeks Doc. School on blood types. In particular, measuring Haemoglobin (Red blood cells) in our bodies, using the Haemoglobinometer and cross matching our blood types using the blood grouping card. Which is useful in seeing who's a potential donor for who on base.

Richard, helping me use a Haemoglobin test, as part of Doc school.

Finding out my blood type using the blood grouping card.

So far this year, when i'm not cooking, i've been practicing my woodwork skills with several projects still underway. The only one i've finished is a picture frame made out of Ash wood, from the retired "Nansen" sledges, that BAS still use today, designed by the Norwegian Explorer Fridtjof Nansen (1861 - 1930), who made his first voyage to Greenland in 1882. The frame is made from the front skis of an old dog sledge, that was disassembled due to damages, spare parts and the removal of all the dogs from Halley.

The back of the dog sledge frame.

The lashings with sledge tightening, tautening dope on, which keeps the half lap wood cuts in place.

Brass clips i cut out and filed into the shape of Antarctica to hold the backing board in place.

Finished article, original and unique.

In 1991, an additional clause was included into the Antarctic Treaty.

"Introduction of non-native species, parasites and diseases, Dogs shall not be introduced onto land or ice shelves and dogs currently in those areas shall be removed by April 1st, 1994".

BAS dogs were shipped out of Antarctica on 22nd February 1994 under the Antarctic Treaty, where all non native species were prohibited to enter Antarctica - apart from humans. These dogs were from a breed of Eskimo huskies from Arctic Canada and Greenland, renowned for their sledge pulling abilities. With strong descendants from the wolf, the severe climate and isolation and a very dense fur allows them to survive in the most hostile of environments.

In 1994, acting on the new Antarctic Treaty legislation the last two teams of BAS huskies were given one last expedition, before being sent on the BAS Dash 7 aircraft on 22nd February, 1994, destination, quarantine in Port Stanley on the Falkland islands, Heathrow, Boston, where they were driven by truck to Hudson Bay, Canada. From here they drove the dogs to new homes in Inukjuak, a Inuit village in Arctic Canada. However, outside the sterile environment of Antarctica, some of the dogs succumbed to various infections, and with all breeding attempts failed, the 50 years of BAS generation huskies, saw the appearance of the Antarctic-born and bread dogs, which evolved over generations with Greenland, Canadian and British dogs, as being larger and wider chested, possibly due to the regular nourishment of seal meat, sadly died out.

With no events planned for July, apart from the visit from the "King", later on in the month. The quiet peace on base was shortly lived, interrupted by the constant whirling howls of what was going on outside. It finally came, the experience of an Antarctic storm. Pictures on base would sway, hanging corkscrews would swing, the water in the toilet bowls would slosh and in some instances you could sit down in the lounge and see yourself gently rocking without instigating the momentum. All in all, not too dissimilar to the gentle rocking motion of living inside an airborne plane, with the noise equivalent of sticking your head outside of a moving car window.

Me hanging onto the hand lines on the way to the melt tank in temperatures of minus 24 degrees and 41.5 knot winds, which relates to a strong gale on the Beau font scale.

I didn't think these pictures gave the ferocity of Antarctica's winds any justice, so, i decided to go out in the howling wind and film what it was like to dig the melt tank. The video has been edited to about 5 minutes, but try to imagine going through this for about half an hour - enjoy.

One of the many amazing things about Antarctica, is the changeable weather. For a day, a week or any number of days, natures wrath, could be inflicting all she's got on the stilted matchbox we all call base, and without warning she could give up the onslaught and portray a light show, as if you were seeing the gates of Heaven glowing.

The weekly melt tank banks being raised by Bulldozer, in a break from the July blows.

Day and night, a break in the weather reveals the illuminating skies we've all be missing out on.

Common practice out here is the ritual digging up of more or less everything and anything which has stood outside weathering the high 40 knot winds. Once the winds have passed, drifted and blowing snow creates alot of digging and exercise, but also the opportunity to venture outside and clear the stale base air from your lungs.

One of the victims, a lonesome skidoo buried several feet below the drifted snow, visible only by the stem of a black flag planted on most vehicles during the summer, signaling that something is buried here.

The impact of the ice formation around the skidoo, requires a slightly more aggressive approach, with Matt the mechanic, watching tentatively - any damages, he's the one who's got to repair them.

Battle won - man, reclaiming back from the ice.

Andy pulling Matt on the once buried skidoo. Notice how dark it is at 11am.

Hoisting the skidoos into the garage for servicing, with a glimmer of light on the horizon at 14.45.

Defrosting time!

Amazingly after defrosting and a service, all the skidoos will start up perfectly, without any faults whatsoever.

As a treat for a hard days digging, or more precisely, "i held onto them for as long as i could before they went off", the last of the apples were eaten up on the 17th July. Yum yum.

We had two Birthdays in July, Andy's and Mark's, although one was celebrated and advertised alot more than the other.

20th July 07

Andy receiving his "Primus stove" Birthday cake, in relation to what he made for his mid winter present, also bearing the "Elvis" quiff in readiness for Marks Elvis party the following night.

Happy Birthday mark, 21st July 07.

Z or Dead performing their Elvis tribute.

Mark pouring his "home brew".

July Statistics:

Max. Temp. -11.8 Degs C on 28th
Min. Temp. -46.0 Degs C on 24th
Max. Wind. 49.6 Knots, classified as a storm on 27th
Max. Gust 64.1 Knots on 27th

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