Halley Diary — September 2006

30 September, 2006

September started for us with temperatures of -40°C and lower, even a simple task of walking to one of the other platforms requires dressing up in full combat gear completely covering all exposed skin. This can be very uncomfortable and strangely enough exceedingly warm to the point of getting too hot.

We also have to deal with the sun, we now get sunlight all day and on a clear day It Is necessary to use sun cream maximum 30 UVA protection. It’s nearing the time to start wearing sunglasses but unfortunately its still too cold and they tend to steam up and freeze so we use goggles with some success.

Once a month the buildings need to jacked to remove any stresses from the steel legs, Liz our Chippy and Steel erector takes all the necessary measurements and works out what legs need to be adjusted, then Liz and me get kitted up in our harnesses and warm clothing then with a big bag of spanners commence to manually jack to the required legs, this week we jacked the Simpson platform.

As part of the every day in the life of a generator mechanic Bob changes over generator sets, this is done every 250 hours, the set that has been taken off line is then serviced and commissioned for use, every day the oil pressure, voltages & KW are checked to ensure the smooth running of the system, these checks are also carried out by the night watch person and if any problems are found the necessary persons are woken up to deal with the problem.

Because of the extreme cold temperatures of the Antarctic its not uncommon for pipes and associated equipment to freeze, even though protection methods are used such as insulation and heat trace systems occasionally they are not sufficient to keep equipment from freezing, last week we had temperatures of -40c and the wind blowing from the West, this caused one of the grifters to freeze, grifters are basically a macerator and are used to liquefy human waste.

As part of a never ending programme to improve the base Liz is building a cupboard that will be installed in the entrance hallway this will be used to store the harnesses that we use these on a daily basis whenever working at height or descending into the tunnels as part of the Heath and Safety at work act.

No matter what the weather is doing we have to dig snow every day into the melt tank to replenish our water supply, this is generally done once a day via three persons.

All of our water has been on the end of a shovel; it’s a pain staking job that everyone takes part in.

Our chef Nicola is entitled to the occasional day off plus she also gets to go on the penguin trips, so we cook on a voluntary bases, everybody has taken turns at this to show off there cooking skills.

This month our winter trips have started which include a trip to the Rumples and Creak Two giving us some more opportunities to see the Emperor Penguins in there natural environment on the sea ice.

The trips are organised by Simon our very own wintering GA with the first stop being the Rumples, the accommodation will be via a pyramid tent, the tents are designed for two people plus the storage of all the cooking equipment and food for up to 20 days if required.

Weather depending everyone on base will get the opportunity to go on a trip the first group out was sledge foxtrot who are Kirsty, Julius, Liz and Simon

Creek Two accommodation will be via the Antarctic equivalent of a caravan, which is a well-insulated caboose that sleeps up to four people.

That’s it for this month, thanks for reading goodbye from Halley and finally here is a photo of me taking a couple of minutes to plan my next job.

Thank you

Mark Wales
The Electrician & Fire Officer