Halley Diary — December 2011

31 December, 2011 Halley

I arrived at Halley on the 2nd of Dec after spending the previous week travelling through Cape Town and Novo with ALCI. The journey was particularly smooth and even got an extra day sunbathing in Cape Town, so took the chance to go to Robbin Island, where Nelson Mandela sent years imprisoned.

By the time we arrived at Halley the site had already been set into 2 different locations. The majority of people were out at Halley 6 where the build of new station continued apace. It was with sadness that we drove straight pass Halley 5 (which is already at ground level), where I already had done 2 winters to my new home in the temporary site overlooking the stunning new Halley 6 building.

A skeleton team of 15 or so were keeping Halley 5 running in case it was needed for another winter. After quick induction it was time to get working and meet some old faces. I had only 4 weeks to get organised before the Ernest Shackleton arrived with all our incoming cargo and food!

The 4 weeks flew by.

This was mainly due to Halley 6 being a very busy site, with over 80 people having to live in close quarters, a mixture of BAS and Mfl, the build contractors.

Our living quarters were the Drewry building, which is the summer accommodation block and annexes. These are shipping containers that are kitted out as bedrooms, shower room and toilets. All our dining and recreation took place in a large tent attached to the Drewry.

Mfl were working very hard in the modules trying to get piping and electrical works finished, ready for commissioning. It was a hive of activity and I must say the best group of lads we have had during the build.

If you were free you were quickly put to work pulling in large cables into the under crofts of Halley 6. The under crofts are voids under the flooring where all the services run through and covers the entire building. We had to pull cables to the two energy modules where the generators and distribution boards are situated. This was in the region of 100m. Plenty of hands were used.

All this was going on as well as the usual summer work that needed doing. Landlines had to be put in place and fuel raised. The Garage and vehicle section were working flat out to maintain the fleet and keep on top of an ever growing jobs list. The chefs and support staff were busy feeding and keeping everyone in clean pants! No easy task when 70 hungry builders turn up! On the Sundays in between this hive of activity, trips were arranged to Windy for people to visit the Penguins.

The Ernest Shackleton arrived on the 26th of December and we began relief. It was a bit of an unknown this year as we had to do rotations from Creek 3 to Halley 6 via Halley 5. In total a round trip was approx. 36km, a long way to tow fully laden sledges. In saying this relief was despatched in less than a week, but this was mainly due to the hard work and long hours that were put in.

As the Ernest Shackleton did not arrive until the 26th it gave us all a chance to relax and enjoy some carol singing and mince pies on Christmas Eve and a day off on Christmas Day. Not usual for Halley. The chefs produced a great meal with limited resources and a good day was had by all.

The New Year was seen in quietly as everyone on station was busy either building the new station or tidying up after relief. Tension was also growing as there was only two weeks to the “decision to winter”. This was the day it would be decided whether we wintered in Halley 5 or Halley 6. More on this in next month’s diary.

Pat Power