31 January, 2007 Halley
Unlike last year, when relief finished by New Years Eve, this year the madness started on New Year’s Day. After a week of the ship being stuck 50 miles from N9 in heavy sea-ice and everyone on base on standby for relief, it was a relief when the wind changed direction and the ship eased its way to N9. N9 was chosen, as there was too much sea-ice at the creeks, once again very different from last year when it was chosen because there was too little ice at the creeks.
As usual everyone was split into day or night shifts so that relief continued 24 hours a day. This year saw the arrival of some new vehicles: 2 Challengers and 2 John Dere tractors. However to begin with the snocats took the brunt of the work load.
As the new vehicles came on line the snocats were slowly retired until only the new vehicles were running. The weather was not nice either for a few days and this slowed down many of the shifts. There wasn’t that much wildlife this time at the ship except for a trio of Adelies that kept on turning up.
During relief the first few 2007 winterers arrived at their new home for the next year. Hopefully they weren’t too shocked. Even with the bad weather and only four vehicles performing the relief, the fact that they could all pull a lot more than the snocats meant the relief was over in a week.
Finally everyone arrived on station and we could all get back on days and get on with the summer season.
This year the major changes to the base seem to be the moving of the Garage and the Drewry buildings closer to the Laws. As well as that there is more Halley 6 sledge testing and a garage refurbishment. This is on top of the usual caboose, tunnel entrance raises and usual summer maintenance. On the science side we are installing a number of new instruments, lots at the CasLab, a new MF radar, and the flying of Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (UAVs).
One of the experiments used scale models of the Laws platforms and models of the new Halley 6 buildings to investigate the wind tail profiles that may form at the new Base.
All this adds up to a very busy summer especially when you consider that the summer season is less than 6 weeks long.
The aircraft was very busy, firstly carrying out the servicing of remote science equipment on the continent towards the pole. Later it was being used to remove empty drums from some of the field sites close by.
Somehow the new faces seem to have boundless energy (maybe we did last year) and are out every night skijouring, kiting or x-country skiing depending on the wind.
As usual there was the summer football match, with no injuries for a change.