Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shorter Days

Nothing really big and profound happening lately. I am in the boathouse now, it's after hours. The boathouse is a great place to hang out, as I have mentioned. I recently got a new monitor that constantly displays the weather and is still a kick to admire.

The Gould arrives in two weeks, bringing a large portion of the winter crew and therefore bumping the population up to 45. I am enjoying the 31 we have now. As our daylight decreases the boating hours get shorter, ending at 6:30pm currently. The days are still jumping with boats, though the after hours have become a bit more mellow. Soon I will be busy in the shop, patching and winterizing the motors.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An unexpected encounter...

This is a short video I was able to take with my little point and shoot camera. It's rough, to say the least, but you'll get the idea. We came upon a pod of four humpback whales, three adults and a baby. We were just drifting, with motors off about 100 ft from them when they decided to come up and see us. They were extremely curious, or angry. It was a bit hard to tell, but I can say that they were really cool and humongous.

Life here at Palmer continues to evolve. We are down to a population of 31 now, as the Gould left with the krillers, riggers and some of the divers. It was sad to see them go, though it feels good to stretch out a bit more. Today I went out with our communications technician to Outcast Island, an island outside of the boating limits, to work on an old Argentine tower. It's abandoned now and a grant is being written to install another wind detector to more accurately make boating decisions. The ocean is much more wild out there than in our protected harbor, with 12 foot swells and curling breaks.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Rubber Duke

Today I retired the Rubber Duke, which is an enormous platform boat, with a winch and large amount of equipment used for pulling krill out of the water. It is a beefy, gem of a boat and I will miss crawling around it, filling it's air and hoisting it's cranks. Weighing in at over 3200 lbs with a variety of priceless scientific instruments, lifting it from surging ocean to the boathouse deck is an operation fraught with peril, even with our sturdy track vehicle, the Skytrak.

This last week has been a good one, involving all the enjoyable experiences, projects completed and things learned that go into making a good run. Last weekend I had a whale experience that made me remember the immensity of our universe. On Monday, hunting whale with a group on the water, I came across a mom and calf, swimming around, bobbing up and down. Flopping their tails and blowing their holes. They came very close, directly under our boats, spying us.

Today again, out on Hermit Island replacing the SAR cache I noticed a group of two or three whales swimming around a series of shoals. Around me was a mine field of roaring fur seals. Asleep, they look so much like the surrounding rocks I had to be extremely careful not to trod on them. Also, there were penguins, skuas, and my favorite of all the Antarctic birds, the blue-eyed shag.