Friday, December 28, 2007

Boxing Day Outing
In the run up to Chritsmas and even on Christmas day itself it was all hands on deck to unload all the cargo (food, fuel and supplies) to keep the base running for the next year. When the rush finally subsided I sneaked away to the coast to visit the big red Santa ship which had also served as my taxi south the previuos year.
Here she is, moored up against the sea ice about a kilometre from the ice cliffs that mark the edge of the ice shelf I live on. Although the sea ice is 3m thick and thought to be capable of supporting weights of at least 6 tonnes the scramble nets hang down the sides incase the ice starts to break out with people working on it.
In the morning just before I arrived ship side they nearly had to make a swift departure as a large ice floe loomed ominously near to the hull. This one is nothing in comparison but still pretty: above you can see it floating towards the bow and below you can see that most of it lurks beneath the waves.
Looking at it from a distance it looks almost as if there are oil slicks all around. In face the calm, shiny patches are not pollution but areas of 'grease ice' where the sea surface is just beginning to freeze. It goes through several stagges as ice crystals starts to cover the surface on swirling patches which grow eventually into 'pancake ice'. The changes are visible from minute to minute.
Here I am about to head out for a boxing day stroll along the foot of the ice cliffs.


By the way, some parts of Christmas are just the same down here. For instance the ship arrived bearing bucket loads of maltesers so I have been stuffing my face with chocolate just like I would do back home at this time of year.
Also, we had a very white Christmas with beautiful giant flakes of snow.




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