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Getting Started

Subj: General report 1

Date: 10/8/0010:02:21 PM Pacific Daylight time

From: [email protected] (Gordon Bain (on Aurora))

Hello all you folks out there

It is very early (0630) Saturday morning here and I felt it was about time I gave you a report on what has happened so far on this journey which, in some ways, started on Wednesday 27 September. So let's do it in a sort of a diary form.

Wed 27 Sep: I spent today at the Macquarie Wharf on Hobart's waterfront. The ship was not there but there was this huge shed and regularly through the day trucks arrived with small and big containers, crates, boxes, reels, vehicles, drums of aviation fuel, drums of petrol, refrigerated containers with cool room and frozen foods. Gordon spent his time checking arriving goods against this big list he had. The biggest pieces were three sections of a special building we are taking down to Davis station. These are the LlDAR building -but I'll tell you more about that another time. During the afternoon a news photographer came down and took some photos of Gordon with the LIDAR building.

Thu 28 Sep: Deliveries continued at the wharf, here just seems to be so much that is going down there. Gordon tells me that most of it is for Davis station and is their major resupply of equipment and stores for a whole year. It will be interesting to see how it all fits onto the ship and also how it gets off the ship at the other end.

Fri 29 Sep: This was a huge day. This morning the ship we are sailing on, the Aurora Australis, came around from another wharf and tied up where we had all the cargo. At about 0900 a huge flurry of activity began. Small and big fork lift trucks began moving the cargo to the side of the ship and the ships crane lifted it on board and lowered it to the various holds inside the ship. Gordon and others had worked out very carefully where every item was to go because somehow we had to fit it all in. Most of the cargo went into the holds in the front of the ship but some scientific equipment was taken onto the back part of the ship -some down to an area known as the trawl deck, some remained on the helicopter deck. Gordon took the opportunity today to start moving some of his personal and work equipment on board. There seemed to be so much - computers and printers, boxes of files and other papers, tapes and CDs and books to read, kit bags of clothes, overalls and helmets and protector glasses, various types of boots, and much, much more. I'll tell you about the set up in another letter. In the afternoon Gordon went up to the offices of the local newspaper the Mercury and collected a whole pile of newspapers -the special supplements the paper printed with news and results of the Olympics competition. A photographer and journalist came down to the ship and took a picture of Gordon taking these papers on to the ship. In his interview Gordon said that the people down at Davis and Mawson stations had been following the Olympics on the Internet and perhaps with a little TV reception but they had not seen mail and newspapers for over six months now and would appreciate seeing and reading the articles in the papers. It was very cold and windy this afternoon with a lot of rain.

Sat 30 Sep: Another huge day but not as long as yesterday. More cargo loading but it was mainly time for getting the rest of personal and work gear on board and getting it "battened down" for going to sea. I guess I'll find out what that means in the next few days. By arrangement today, the expeditioners who are sailing with us had the chance to bring their own personal equipment on board but they won't be coming on themselves for another few days. Gordon spent an awful amount of time sorting out people's questions and directing them where to take certain items of equipment. In the afternoon a number of other people got on board -these were scientists and technicians who are going to be checking out and calibrating some of the scientific equipment during the next two days. Gordon and I left the ship late afternoon and we went back to his home. In the early evening though, the ship left the Macquarie wharf and sailed a few miles up the Derwent River to a place called Self's Point. This is an oil storage terminal and the ship was to spend the next 24 hours there taking on the oil it needed to operate its engines for the next few weeks. But also the special diesel fuel that Davis station needs to run its generators to provide power for the station during the next 12 months. This evening Gordon and Pat took me to dinner with friends at their place. Here I met someone else who is coming on the trip with us -the Dragon Fly called Puff -I mentioned him in an earlier note when I introduced my traveling companions. We had a lovely night -our last on firm ground for six or so weeks.

Sun 1 Oct: This started off a very relaxed day. We rose late, had a leisurely breakfast, went out and did a couple of minor chores, packed the last few things we needed. We went to neighbours for a barbecue lunch and then Pat drove us to Self's Point where we boarded the ship. We didn't have the type of send-off I believe Brownie had earlier this year. On board at this stage we only have 5 of the expeditioners who are sailing south with us but a number of other scientists and technicians who are doing the equipment calibration. There were about three people on the wharf to see the ship pulling away and heading down the river and out to sea. We also have visitors from the National Oceans Office who are just going to be on board overnight to see how the ship and its equipment operates and the facilities for scientific research. Had a pretty quiet evening - wandered about the ship with Gordon checking out things, catching up with crew members Gordon has traveled with before, sorting out things in the cabins. It's amazing how much stuff accumulated in Gordon's cabin and work space since we first came on board. Sorting out all this is a job for tomorrow and part of Tuesday. Got to bed about 2200, fairly rough outside but for seasoned sailors like us -not a problem; some of the Oceans people were looking a little green when we saw them on the trawl deck talking to one of the scientists.

Mon 2 Oct: After the overnight trip which included testing of new trawling equipment, we pulled in to Carnarvon Bay at Port Arthur about 0700. The ships set out four anchors to allow the calibration work to be done, but for us a pretty relaxed day but a lot on -fortunately one where we could set our own pace for doing things, and what an assortment of jobs. Unpacked and stacked hundreds of videos for the video room, re-stacked and sorted mail bags going to the stations, set up computers and connected them to the network, unpacked and stored office supplies and stationery for on board use, unpacked and stored personal equipment, set up the Voyage Leaders space and emergency equipment (the Voyage Leader had returned to Hobart earlier in the day for final briefing of expeditioners). A quiet evening meal and then finished up the last of the sorting -shifting stuff from Gordon's cabin to other parts of the ship.

Tue 3 Oct: THE DAY. It started off in very relaxed form. A leisurely breakfast followed by some light finishing up work. At around 0830 the first of our two helicopters flew on board. The helicopter people then started taking the blades off to allow the helicopter to go into the hangar for the trip south. A colleague of Gordon's from the office came out with the last and final copies of manifests, papers, and sundry items of equipment. At about 1000 the second helicopter flew on board and shortly after that the first of the expeditioners arrived. They had come from Hobart by bus and out to the ship by ferry from Port Arthur. Three ferry loads in total, with all their kit bags and cameras and all. While all this was happening a sea plane flew around us and we noted someone taking pictures from it. Wonder what that was about? Gordon had a busy time checking off the names of people as they came on board and giving them directions as to where to take their stuff. After lunch Gordon was asked by a National Geographic film crew to reenact one of the expeditioners coming on board and being greeted. What's this -a starring role in a film? Nothing as big as that. The National Geographic Wildlife TV group are collaborating with some Australian researchers on a documentary about Leopard Seals but want to also capture images of an Antarctic voyage generally. Gordon has known the principal researcher Tracey for some years, and he had also established a working relationship with the film crew. So several takes of cameras rolling to have Tracey climbing the final step onto the ship and being checked off and greeted by Gordon (seeing they had known each other for a long time, a big bear hug was in order - nothing very formal about these ANARE expeditions!!

In the afternoon we had sea safety instructions from the ships' captain and crew -this included putting on survival suits, getting into life rafts and so on.

And then it was count down to departure. The scientists and technicians doing the calibration work packed up their gear, the anchors were lifted and moved, the final lashing of equipment, the final testing of engines, Customs officials and others left the ship about 1830. At 2000, we sounded the hooters and slipped down Carnarvon Bay and made our way to sea. It was quite dark by this time so there was not much to see.

And so we are on our way -82 expedition members and 21 members of ship crew. 103 people who will share the next 17 or so days together.

Wed 4 Oct: Our first full day at sea. By the time we rose, land had long since vanished and we were in the southern ocean. Gordon is a seasoned seafarer and I'm proud to say that I take after him -a solid constitution and no hint of sea sickness - though I'm not too sure about some of my traveling companions -OzGold looks a bit green around the gills. Today was settling in day for most, though there are many who are feeling decidedly poorly. Gordon and the doctor did cabin rounds late in the day to check on people and how they were traveling. My traveling companions and I have a lovely spot -we are on Gordon's desk and can see and hear everything that's happening. We will get out and explore the ship in the next few days and tell you all about it and various people on board.

Thu 5 Oct: Second day out, more people up and about though some are still feeling ill. The doctor has been busy keeping pills up to people and in some cases even administering needles. In mid afternoon we reached the site for the first science activity - ~ recovery and redeployment of sediment traps. But I'll make a special report on that activity when it is all over.


Fri 6 Oct: Continued the search for the sediment trap and found it late in the afternoon. Brought on board in the evening. Other than that a pretty uneventful day -Gordon actually had a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon.

Sat 7 Oct: Today has yet to happen. We will be putting out a replacement sediment trap in the same location as the one we retrieved and then sail off to a second trap site about 400 miles away further south. In between the sites we will deploy and recover a Continuous Plankton Recorder. More of that in another episode.




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