I-TASC expedition 2006/2007
Back on the ship. It was an amazing helicopter ride from SANAE IV to the ship. I was very sad to leave the continent and couldn’t help shedding a tear or two on the trip back to the Agulhas. We left the base, swooped over the AWS, and then turned and dropped spectacularly over the Nunatuk…those chopper guys, they like to impress and I’m glad for it.
It was also amazing to fly over the ice shelf and see the ice stretching away to the horizon with ragged cliffs. Then the Agulhas. Beautiful on the sparkling blue water, cruising slowly in anticipation of our homecoming. She’s a queen of second homes amongst an array of second homes we have experienced on this trip. A good friend spent much of his life on the sea in the NZ Navy, and as a pilot in Dunedin. I could never understand how he could love it so, as it seemed a very harsh existence, but seeing the Agulhas again filled me with warmth and respect for the ship and the strange existence it offers. It made me realise how lucky I have been to have had a glimpse of life at sea, and I can see its attraction.
I was also sad to leave Zama behind. We had a tight cabin, the boys of B10. 3 of us came back but Zama was asked, just two weeks ago, to stay. I wouldn’t like to have been in his situation – the other over-winter crew had 2 months to train and many more to prepare psychologically for spending 14 months on the continent by themselves. However, Zama had no such luck. He decided to stay, and I am sure he will have an amazing experience. It would have been hard for him not to have said his goodbyes properly to family and friends.
It was also great to finally be able to call Lotte and talk for a whole 10 minutes! ah… the small pleasures of modern naval communications.
Anyway, we wait here on the ship for 2 more days, and then we move out across the Southern Ocean. I hope the seas are good. We were fortunate to have extremely good seas on the way here. I hope we get that luck twice. Leon (one of last year’s winter team) is hoping to see at least 10-metre waves and hopes the ship will surf some… I don’t share his enthusiasm… maybe the trip home will cure me of my new found respect for life at sea 😉
Outside, the crew are loading containers on the ship. There are a few more loads to come from the base, I think they expect to be finished with this tomorrow. They bring the containers down a steep bank cut they made in the ice. At this time the Agulhas is parked with its nose on the ice shelf and the containers are swung aboard.
So, I’m spending the days till we leave watching stupid American tv series, and taking photos. I am practising birdy shots with the telephoto…its kind of like skeet shooting… you follow the bird, trying to pull focus manually as quickly as you can, panning the cam at the same speed, and then pressing the trigger to get the perfecin-flightht shot… It’s great fun and quite addictive – I’m sure if they invented cameras before guns there would have been a lot less game shooting in the world (and consequently more animals still around, and the world would be better documented!). I got a couple of good shots, but I am anticpating that perfect trophy to hang on the wall, maybe an albatross in flight, or two snow petrels in frame with perfect focus.
First Born is sleeping through the day. He worked hard these last days outside.
When I get back to Cape Town I fly from Jo’burg on the 18th of Feb. Spending my birthday mid air 🙂 Then I land in Sydney and I hope I get to see Mr Snow, Zina, and the good Doctor Gillian for a day or so before winging it to NZ. Not long to go now before familiar shores and faces populate my existence… now i just got to strategise the best moment to shave…