06 February 2007

I-TASC expedition 2006/2007

Seas are relatively calm. We have a few more birds appearing out the back of the boat, but otherwise, all is the same.

Advice from the bottom of a well, Part 4 : extras
I thought I should write down some last bits I had forgotten in the last sections about what to bring if you ever find yourself going to SANAE.

* gloves
I have thought about the glove issue a bit. In the last week or so at the base, I found that the large windproof mitten gloves (the gloves without fingers) are excellent for warming up your hands while outside. If you get cold hands then you can take off any glove inners and put your ‘naked’ hands into the gloves. The natural warmth of your hands will warm your hands and fingers faster than any other way (except a heater). So bring a good pair of robust windproof mittens. Also, I mentioned earlier, merino glove inners, and lastly consider getting a really good pair of warm working gloves.

* Butane Solder Iron
If you are going to work with any electronics, then bring a butane soldering iron for working outside. It would pay to buy this in Cape Town as most airlines won’t allow them onboard aircraft in checked or onboard luggage.

* cups
It might seem a little trivial, but there is a lack of good cups and glasses at SANAE and it’s the little things that make a difference. Bring a big thermos flask type cup. Good for coffee up on the monkey deck on the boat, and good for long cold drinks at the base when you come in from a hot day’s work or a sauna.

* tradeables
Bring some extra CDs and DVDs, if you don’t use them, they are good currency on the boat for trading with the crew, and if you have a laptop with a dvd burner, you will also make good alliances if you don’t mind a bit of extra work ripping/burning.

* video
If you are going to take video you most definitely need a good ‘Zepplin’ microphone sock. You won’t get any outdoor sound without it.

* currency
Make sure you bring enough currency with you to pay for the communications and shop bill you might accumulate on the boat.

* USB stick
These days it almost goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Bring a USB memory stick, at least 1GB. You need it if you want to send emails from the boat as you need to write emails, transfer them in a text file to a stick, and then give it to the radio comms officer. The officer then copies the text into an email and sends it (all emails leave via the same Agulhas email account). You get replies the same way except the radio officer prints them out for you. However, even without this, I used my USB stick several times a day while at the base.

* Wireless Router
Don’t leave home without one.

* Arduino
I wish I had a small PIC set up. If you know what an Arduino is then get one. We had to build a circuit on the fly on this trip for a reasonably critical role, but if we had an Arduino unit we could have done the same thing faster and more reliably.

* Radio
For listening to Radio SANAE!!!

* Disk Space
Make sure you have lots of disk space available for photos etc – consider an external disk.

* Rechargeable Batteries
Bring plenty of rechargeable batteries.

* Sunscreen
The stuff SANAE provides isn’t that good. Bring your own and make it as strong as possible.

* Extension cords
You won’t find any extra on the boat or at SANAE so bring your own extension cords and power boxes, especially if you are using plugs that are not South African plugs…bring as many extension boxes and cables as you can, you will use them all.

* Walkie Talkies
Not absolutely necessary to purchase for an individual, but useful for the team.  They can be expensive, but 2-way hand held radios are rare at the base. I would find out what kind they use (what frequencies they work on) and then buy a couple. This is the expensive way but it has the advantage that you can always have a radio that is on the same channels as the SANAE radios. A cheaper way would be to buy 2 or 4 small walkie talkies of the cheap variety for comms just within the crew.

* Attitude
Bring a good one 😉 – on this note -> you can expect tensions amongst your crew. It’s _normal_. Part of the experience of the trip is learning how to deal with team dynamics. I recommend you expect that tensions will arise and you prepare to forgive, forget, and move on as fast as possible. On-going issues need to be addressed but there is a lot to be said for a generosity of spirit. Provide your teammates with comradeship, and good feedback, never criticise the person but instead address the issue at hand with an attitude of improving the situation and not apportioning blame. Be prepared to own up to and laugh at your own mistakes. Find out what motivates your teammates, and work on that. They are old rules, you can take them or leave them, but trust me on the sunscreen 😉