Polar Radar for Ice Sheet Measurements

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Special Report: Getting Out of Davis Station

We’ve talked about how we pushed and banged and crashed for over 12 hours to break through the fast ice to get to the anchorage. But how did we get out?

We were at the bottom end of this nine kilometre channel we had carved through the fast ice - only as wide as the ship and apart from a small area immediately behind the ship, the broken ice in the channel had frozen solid again.

If you are driving on a very narrow road and want to turn around and go back the way you came in, how would you do it? The technique in driving is called a three point turn - check it out with someone who drives if you need to. Well it is actually the same technique but it is a bit harder with a ship and such a narrow channel. Many years ago, Gordon started using the term 60 point turn. It’s not 60 but it sure is a lot of back and forth - the ship goes forward, makes a bit of a swing and cracks off ice at the top of the channel. Then it back up and knocks a bit more off near the back of the ship. The it goes forward making a slight change of direction and bites off another chunk, then back and forward again, turning a little more each time and gradually making the ‘hole’ at the end bigger. Eventually the ship had made a big ‘bulb’ at the top of the channel and the ship had got to being at right angles to the channel.

Once we’d achieved that it was easy - the ship made another forward move and this time it had a circle in which it could keep turning until it was facing down the channel. And then it was only a case of steering down the channel. But even though the broken ice had frozen up solidly, the ship had no problem re-breaking it and we made it quite quickly to open water off the edge of the fast ice.

It took us some 13 and a half hours to break through the fast ice to get to the anchorage point; it took us an hour and a quarter including the ‘60 point turn’ to get back out!!!!

It’s just getting a bit near to the close off time for the next email cross, so I’ll stop now. I still need to tell you about the sort of cargo we picked up at Davis, and then something about our journey to Mawson. The Mawson operation will be in its own episode.

Bye bye for now.



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