Halley Diary — October 2011
Well it’s finally my turn to write a month. My name is Paul Barwick and I am the wintering Electrical Service Technician here at Halley and if all goes to plan this season it should be the last ever winter month diary from Halley V.
This month we would start to see a lot of change. With the end of winter upon us, the return of 24 hour sun light and the return of people!! As with all other months we do have our maintenance schedules and reactive work to do but most departments had a busy time ahead of them starting to get things ready for the arrival of the summer season and staff.
The Tech Services team which is made up of Rory, Frank and I have the job to make sure that all the services in the Drewry and Piggott buildings are all up and running before the summer staff return. These two buildings had been winterized at the start of winter and left for seven months often seeing temperatures of −40°C. The process is slow to begin with as the generators used to power the buildings need to be warmed up gradually before use then in turn the buildings have to be left to warm through. After around one week we can get to work inside which involves testing the electrical and mechanical systems and re-fitting any temperature sensitive equipment. While all this was going on all the beds was dressed and cupboards stocked up ready for people to move straight in.
The last of the winter trips sore Ian and Frank get away down to Windy Creek for three nights to spend some time with the penguin colony and then onto Creek Three for two nights where they explored around on the sea ice and climbed inside a crevasse for a look around.
I managed to get off-base a couple of times myself this month. A day of raising our drum route to Creek Three and a trip to the new Halley VI site. While the drum raising can be hard and cold work at times you can also enjoy it. The new Halley VI looked impressive when we was approaching it and it was strange seeing it for the first time deserted and still covered in snow and ice. On the return trip we witnessed a pretty spectacular sun halo.
The annual winter photograph competition took place and there were some great entries but it was our Field Assistant Ian who won it with his eerie picture of an emperor penguin’s feet. There was some debate with this though as if you look at the picture closely they also look like our resident Fixed Plant Tech Frank’s feet and it is hard to separate the two.
We had been expecting the first plane of the season with some BAS staff to be in on the 28th so to enjoy our last week alone, our in house party planners Chris and Emma had arranged some things for an early Halloween which included a horror film week and a buffet with fancy dress on the Saturday.
In preparation for having more people on base we brought back out all the extra tables, chairs and crockery. With all this happening the reality of new people seems real now and we will soon be sharing the base which we have been left alone in for 8 months.
To finish off we had an end of winter scrub out in which we all give the base a good clean from top to bottom.
Like with most things down here the weather put a stop to the first plane with BAS staff arriving so they as well as us are on standby for the 1st break in it.
On the last day of the month we did finally have some new faces arrive at Halley after 8 months of just the 11 of us. A Bassler plane with 4 Canadian air crew and 3 Russian scientists.
It was a strange feeling watching the plane come in to land as it marked the end of winter but it was also really nice to see and speak to new people but even better they brought in lots of fresh food for us.
Well that was about it from October. I will now look forward to enjoying my remaining time down here on the ice, the season ahead and the old and new faces which will come with it.
On a personal note I would like to say hello to all my family and friends back in Hull. I will see you all soon in the New Year.
Paul Barwick Zelec