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Halley Diary — January 2007

January 07

Unlike last year, when relief finished by New Years Eve, this year the madness started on New Year's Day. After a week of the ship being stuck 50 miles from N9 in heavy sea-ice and everyone on base on standby for relief, it was a relief when the wind changed direction and the ship eased its way to N9. N9 was chosen, as there was too much sea-ice at the creeks, once again very different from last year when it was chosen because there was too little ice at the creeks.

Shackleton moored at N9
Shackleton moored at N9

As usual everyone was split into day or night shifts so that relief continued 24 hours a day. This year saw the arrival of some new vehicles: 2 Challengers and 2 John Dere tractors. However to begin with the snocats took the brunt of the work load.

Bulk fuel tanks transfer avtur from the ship to Halley
Bulk fuel tanks transfer avtur from the ship to Halley

As the new vehicles came on line the snocats were slowly retired until only the new vehicles were running. The weather was not nice either for a few days and this slowed down many of the shifts. There wasn't that much wildlife this time at the ship except for a trio of Adelies that kept on turning up.

Adele penguins at N9
Adele penguins at N9

During relief the first few 2007 winterers arrived at their new home for the next year. Hopefully they weren't too shocked. Even with the bad weather and only four vehicles performing the relief, the fact that they could all pull a lot more than the snocats meant the relief was over in a week.

Mat with seven sledges.
Mat with seven sledges.

Finally everyone arrived on station and we could all get back on days and get on with the summer season.

Pulling the garage
Pulling the garage

This year the major changes to the base seem to be the moving of the Garage and the Drewry buildings closer to the Laws. As well as that there is more Halley 6 sledge testing and a garage refurbishment. This is on top of the usual caboose, tunnel entrance raises and usual summer maintenance. On the science side we are installing a number of new instruments, lots at the CasLab, a new MF radar, and the flying of Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (UAVs).

One of the experiments used scale models of the Laws platforms and models of the new Halley 6 buildings to investigate the wind tail profiles that may form at the new Base.

Simon measures the snow accumulation around the model of the Laws platform.
Simon measures the snow accumulation around the model of the Laws platform.

Looking at the snow levels around the new Halley 6 modules.
Looking at the snow levels around the new Halley 6 modules.

All this adds up to a very busy summer especially when you consider that the summer season is less than 6 weeks long.

The aircraft was very busy, firstly carrying out the servicing of remote science equipment on the continent towards the pole. Later it was being used to remove empty drums from some of the field sites close by.

Alex services the instruments at A84.
Alex services the instruments at A84.

Drum loading at Site 5.
Drum loading at Site 5.

Somehow the new faces seem to have boundless energy (maybe we did last year) and are out every night skijouring, kiting or x-country skiing depending on the wind.

Skijouring
Skijouring

Kiting as the sun sets
Kiting as the sun sets

As usual there was the summer football match, with no injuries for a change.

Football match
Football match

Sledge test
Sledge test