Halley Diary — March 2008

31 March, 2008 Halley

March may be the third month in the Gregorian calendar, but to the hardy Antarctic Heroes at Halley, March might as well be the first.

You’re probably asking yourself why… I mean what’s wrong with January? Well simply put, January isn’t winter enough, and March is like, 4 times more winter than March. We don’t mess around with date-based seasons down here, our winter starts when everyone else leaves us alone – typically standing on a bit of ice waving flares at a big red ship, eagerly steaming towards warmer climes. Saying that, Winter 08 started on March the 8th…

Thus, the Month of March in the year of two thousand and eight saw 11 people (of questionable sanity) become the latest wintering team at Halley Research Base, Antarctica.

Woohoo, the ship’s left and we can relax! No more 100+ people on base, no more queuing for the showers, no more summer. Ok ok I exaggerate somewhat, we’re not quite into winter mode just yet – we’ve still got a lot of hard work in front of us and the summer wasn’t really that bad. It was a lot of hard work, but the summer crew made it highly enjoyable and I’m sure we’ll miss the majority of them.

March held some personal significance for me also. As the only person staying on from last winter, I was saying goodbye to friends that I had worked, lived and relaxed with for the last 14 months. People that felt like family, and true friends that I’m sure will keep in touch for … weeks to come. The new winterers were to be moulded into a close knit team, which started with our first meal together.

Killer – Now a weekly entertaining hour of ‘forget potting a ball, stitch up the next person as much as possible’ game.

The Winter 2008 Team: Rich B (he still calls himself that on the radio), Lord, Comms, Paddy, Scottie, Mechanical Tech Services, Lancelot, Doc, Metbabe, JC and The Boss.

The first few weeks of winter are manic. The Tech Services boys (Joe, Bryan and Les) have to close the Drewry and prepare it for winter. This includes emptying the melt tank, but not before we all have a nice long soak. This was my first bath in 15 months, as I missed the first melt tank party due to a technical problem with our satellite system.

With only 11 people on base, we have a lot more room this year. I suggested we deploy a trampoline in the dinning room but that was quickly vetoed by most, so we had the table tennis, er table put out instead. For my first winter a table tennis game was a luxury, (much like a day off or a cup of tea … cough) so the prospect of annoying people with the plonk of table tennis balls during breakfast was something I was looking forward to. We started a competition within a week, and the favourites established themselves right out of the gate.

We also celebrated Easter in usual tradition with an egg hunt (they’ll be finding eggs for the next six months mwhahahah) a fancy meal, a cheesy film and eating far too much chocolate.

Hannah spent days in the kitchen making eggs, each inscribed with our first initial. I was half expecting a small self-assembly toy inside, but they were empty, which I thought was really slack.

We were lucky enough to have a few exciting winter trips in March. Lance was lucky to hit the creeks before the ship left, and managed to climb the cliffs and explore a few crevasses.

Rich, Joe and Dave visited the Hinge zone. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t particular favourable for climbing and exploring, so they spent a lot of time in their tent. The three of them stayed in a three-man tent for 3-4 days, mostly reading and bonding (not reading about bonding). Joe and Dave got really close during the trip, they were like brothers.

They wanted to share a sleeping bag, but they’re just too small.

We had our first fancy dress in March and we went with an 80s themed party. Paddy made the food and a few of us dressed up in our best gear (Dave and Lance were dressed normally).

Dave was in his element, he turned up wearing his Sunday best, and then claimed it was his fancy dress gear and not his usual wardrobe.

Nothing epitomises 80’s fashion more than bad makeup, bad hair and a happy woman with a miserable bloke.

Joe ‘the kid’ that does Karate. And just like the film, he’s annoying, whiny and can’t catch flies with chopsticks.

To finish off, here’s a photo of the moon by our resident photographer, Richard.

Hello to all my friends and family back home. I miss you all dearly.


A big thanks to Richard for the photos.