Friday, December 31, 2010

Visitors from Chilean Navy -Lautaro in November

On November 18th, the Chilean Navy Lautaro ship came to visit.  This particular ship services the chilean stations on the Antarctic Peninsula and is also part of the rescue team if needed in the peninsula area.  They are on constant patrol. 
The Chileans and also the Argentine vessels like to stop by and have an exchange of personnel.  Some of their crew get to come ashore and some of us get to go out for tours on their ships.  This ship is a tender called the Lautaro.  They've visited us many times in the past years, but the weather had been too bad for us to be able to go on board.  
 Their crew was able to come on station and get a regular tour that we give all visitors.  We take them up to the Bar where we serve tea and cookies and our famous brownies the cooks make. 
This particular sailor saw a picture of a picture of another chilean boat called the "Almirante Viel" that visited us in 1999,  He said his uncle had given the picture to Palmer Station at that time.  Here's a closer picture of it below...

 We head out to the Lautaro as they invited us for a B.B.Q. on board their ship.
 Here we are getting close to the ship.  It's not far from our station, only about 1/2 mile.
We pull up to the stern of the ship and tie off our zodiac and are immediately greeted with a tour and meat being grilled out on their deck.  
 They served us wine spritzers with fruit and every kind of meat grilled to perfection.
 We were able to go on a tour of the ship, up to the bridge...
 Then down to see the Captain's cabin.  The captain is seated to the left, then Bob Farrell our station manager and Dr. Liz our station doctor.
 This is out on the deck making the most of the spanish Liz and I have between us, we had a nice conversation with the crew.

The cooks!  

We had a fabulous time and are hoping they get to visit us again soon!

Station Training after Arrival includes Boating lessons

Once we arrive on station, we get training throughout the station on where to muster in case of fire, where we do our laundry, where we can hike around station, how to do our dishes, where to find cleaning supplies, understanding the White board for daily information pass down and then getting qualified to be a boat operator, which is by far is the funnest of all the other trainings.  
This is our Boating Coordinator - Lily Glass, she's an adventurer from past lives and we are blessed with her presence her.   She's funny, sometime serious, but mostly fun to be with.  The picture below she's showing Bill the finer points in holding his throttle.

PQ is driving this boat.  You can tell that the area is a bit foggy and possibly some moisture on my camera lens.
We called "Man overboard" drill and Lily jumps effortlessly into the brink.  We all are on the outlook for any leopard seals that might wander by.   
Our training is to give us the skills to pull in boater that has fallen off the boat without running them over.  If you're not used to a boat it can be challenging.  But we get Lily in and we're zooming back to station so Lily doesn't get too cold after we pull her out of the brink.
Here's some of our rules & Regs.  It isn't classified, but just informative.

While we were traveling checking out the islands, we found some shallow areas where to could go up to mini icebergs that were grounded in the shallows.  I had my underwater camera with me and took some shots...The water was very clear as it was still cold and not many smaller creatures have started growing yet.

 Here's the underwater version of the min berg and below the water line.
 This shows the bottom of the bergs stronghold and a little bit on his personality. 

Down below are just rockformations under the 2-3' depth of the shallow area where the berg bit is stuck.

 That is all for now....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tying up the Laurence M. Gould to the Palmer Pier

Tying up the Ship is no simple matter.  It takes about 10 people on station to tie up the boat.  There are 6 lines that go from ship to shore and after that, the gangway needs to be lowered and then we can depart off the ship.  Here are some past photos, but not much has changed.

This is from a portal onboard the LMG.  The pier has the orange & blue storage containers 
that are called Milvans. 
This is the ship before it gets tied up.  (summer shot from the station)
This was taken on looking out at the Bow line handlers, there are two bollards that 3 lines get tied up to.  Each line gets handled one at a time and is handled systematically.
Different angle of the Bow line handlers
Later on in the season when you can see the rocks after the snow melt.  It is tricky to hoist the heavy lines over the rocks and snow to tie up.
This is definitely later in the season when the weather is nicest.  Whoever is a line handler must wear a float coat in case they fall into the drink. 
This is the Stern handler bollard position.  
This group hangs out at the midships bollard line.
Gould tied up and at rest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

September 2010 - Headed back to Palmer Station

Update from Palmer Station: 
After a wonderful summer of Montana exploration, Art retreats and an Artist in Residence in Minnesota at Beaver Creek Valley State Park, I get to return to the home away from home and head "South" for the Minnesota winter.
I left home mid September and arrived 6 days later in Punta Arenas, Chile getting ready to take the "Laurence M. Gould" on a 4 day crossing of the infamous Drake passage crossing from the convergence of the southern Pacific, Atlantic and the northern Antarctic oceans can cause dramatic adventures inside a boat with turbulent seas. 
This is a statue of Bernard O'Higgins who was one of the commanders who helped free Chile from Spanish rule in the early 18th century; surrounded by the sculptured Cypress trees.
 Laurence M. Gould tied up at the Punta Arenas pier.
 There is a new Hotel in town called "Dreams".  They have a pool overlooking the pier which is glass enclosed on all sides, which I had the opportunity to visit, swim and enjoy the sun.  The big orange ship we'll take you can see in the background. 
As we were getting ready to "sail" the crew was doing last minute touch up painting while the weather was nice, as the sun you don't take for granted in this part of the world.
We are finally at sea and have been for 2 days.  The sun shining, the Drake treating us gently for our passage south.  
This is a view from the Bridge deck overlooking the bow out towards the rolling horizon.  If you look, you can see my shadow as I shoot.
 Science happens the whole trip, looking out over the side of the ship, I look down and see they are launching a CTD rosette.
The CTD is an electronically controlled instrument used by scientists all over the world.  It stands for Conductivity, Temperature & Depth. The water is collected in these bottles called Niskins that get triggered to open at different depths to collect water samples.  
 The Rosette is extended out from the ship and lowered into the amazingly calm ocean.  
 As it makes it's decent into the oceans' depth, the bottles get triggered to open at Depth to collect water as it records salinity(Conductivity) and the Temperature gets recorded electronically.  
Samples collected are then methodically labelled and stored till it can be sent back to the lab for study.  
Eventually we enter icy slush that turns quickly into pancake ice as the temperature plummets.   
 We're heading through the ice field, slowly, deliberate and thankful for the calm seas.
The day passes with the sun setting on the ice and we get ready to arrive at Palmer.
 When we arrived just off shore of Palmer Station, the winds were too high for us to tie up, so we waited in Arthur Harbor for a couple hours and waited until the wind died down
Palmer is fully snow covered when we arrive.  Now to start our season...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 13th Sheathbill chick update and special visitors

Wow, is all I can say for my next installment...I have met some fun people, seen some interesting boats and our little chick is growing up. 

On Friday we had a unique ship visit us.  It was a "Tall Ship".  They are the larger traditional sailing ships with sails and lots of them. 
The ship that came to visit us is called the
It hails from the Netherlands.  It was built in 1911 in Hamburg and it's original use was as a lightship.  A lightship is a ship that is moored in a dangerous area with warning lights to warn other ships to stay clear of the area.  The name at the time was "Senator Brockes" and was made of steel.  It was converted in 1986 to a three masted sailing vessel.  We were able to visit the ship and go on a tour.  I was one of a small handfull who wanted to see the engine room.  The room was so small you had to hunch to move around.  I don't know how they were able to do any work on the engines.  it was pretty tight quarters. 
Here the Ship comes around Bonaporte point that is a little peninsula opposite the station.

Then below is it rounding the iceberg that is sitting in our harbor.

and lastly is what the ship looks like when it is under full sail.  Pretty unbelievable.
here are some of the ropes to handle all those riggings...

Now let's go on to our little Lesser Sheathbill chick.  As you have read in the last post, we have a Sheathbill chick and it was so small and unique looking it was small about the size of a softball.  It's grown out of it's dark feathers and is now putting on a coat of it's more natural white feathers, save for his head.  The little one looks like a mini vulture.  I'd say he's about a couple inches bigger than a softball now, and whoa....fluffy!

The family lives underneath some rocks next to one of our buildings, but far enough away to give the family some privacy.  The parents have flown off one at a time to find food for the chick.  The Sheathbill is an omnivore which means it eats both vegetation and animal matter.  Which is what we humans are also known as.  Except the Sheathbills also feed on excrement (poo) which humans usually do not. 
The chick will fledge (lose all it's down) after about 50-60 days after it's hatched. I hope to have pictures of it after it fledges, but it's all about timing. 
Here's a picture of one of the parents...

So one of our other exciting news was that we've been visited by another Astronaut.  Buzz Aldrin and his wife visited station and we were able to get a group photo.
He gave a talk on board the National Geographic Explorer and a few people from station were able to go listen to him speak.  I was able to go listen to Neil Armstrong when he came so I stayed behind this time.  Both of these astronauts were the first people to walk on the moon.  How cool is that?

Our next big visitor was just as special.  He's known to many probably more well known than Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation came to visit along with some members of his family.  He talks a little about his visit in his blog.

We were able to get a group photo with him, but it's not available at this time. So instead here's a not so recent picture we have of him here at station.

Even though it's not recent, but we like it because we're a microsoft user here at station and he did have something to do with computers in the world. 

Palmer Station is almost at the end of the world, but we still get visited by many many special people, which in turn means we're in a very special part of the world.