30 November, 2013 Halley
Having spent a winter in isolation on the Brunt ice shelf we were all very excited as the first plane landed on the runway bringing people and freshies. More than just a research station, Halley is also an airport, where planes and their crew can stop for a few days to rest and refuel on their way to other destinations. The first two planes coming through, a Basler and a Twin Otter, were on their way to Novo but stayed for a few days to wait for better weather.
With seeing new people stepping on base came the realisation that winter is now over and base life goes into a different gear. The Halley Research Station is accessible by ship only through three months of the year. This means that the base has to be fully prepared before ship relief starts so that the most can be made of this time window. To help us the operations team is flown in early in the summer season. They were flying in through Rothera which is a major flying hub operated by BAS on the Antarctic Peninsula. Their role is to prepare the base for the coming summer season, making sure that vehicles are in top condition and that the summer accommodation is up and running. Along with the operations team the first of the new winterers also arrived.
Some of us also took a trip down to the penguin colony to check up on the Happy Feets. It’s very hard to know when the sea ice will disappear, and with it the colony, so we’re taking every opportunity to get down to the ice edge which is about 2 hours away.
In the science team we shifted focus from maintenance of experiments to planning and preparation for the summer season. There is equipment going home and parts coming in with a whole lot of paperwork detailing both processes. The apparatus of running a remote station like Halley is quite awe-inspiring. With lead times of equipment usually being 6 months or more it’s incredibly important to get it right from the start. If something is missing the next opportunity to bring it down may well be a whole year away.
One aspect of base life that can be somewhat intimidating at first is being Sunday cook. This month it was my turn and Andy the chef suggested fish. With ample help from Andy and with some precision instruments at hand the result came out rather nicely. For most of us this is the only opportunity we’ll ever have to work in a professional kitchen so it’s quite fun to learn how it’s done.
Throughout the month the air traffic continued with people coming and going. Now was also the time when the first of the old winterers went home. Andy and Ian stepped on the plane that took them to Rothera and then further on via Punta Arenas in Chile to Britain.
All in all the month of November was very eventful. The first new winterers arriving and some of the old winterers leaving. We’re now fully prepared for the summer season and looking forward to the ship coming in with new supplies, experiments and personnel.