Once captive on the ship we were briefed that it would be a slow journey home. Following the broken refrozen chunks to the fast ice edge a few miles away was easy enough. The journey through the open polynya was very pleasant, with stretches of open water, pancake ice bobbing up and down in the breeze, and young grey sea ice rippling in the wake of the ship as we weaved through majestic icebergs, on the trawl deck drinking our first beers since before resupply.
Keith finally got his fishing trip in, on the last Sunday before the arrival of the ship. We had an extended period of brilliant weather whilst hearing updates from the ice encrusted VNAA Aurora Australis, a few hundred miles off the coast battling to find a way in through the pack ice. The ship had quite an epic trip of over three weeks, starting with a severe storm on departure from Hobart. They tracked slightly east of south to avoid the brunt of the weather on the Southern Ocean crossing. Nevertheless, an unprecedented amount of ice built up over the deck as sea spray froze on impact, closing the gaps between handrails to flood the deck and even causing concern due to the additional weight on the ship. And then they hit the pack ice…
The ship was due to arrive a week ago but it found itself 300nm away stuck in the ice. Since then it has made very little progress and we’ve been in limbo, ready for them to arrive. Meanwhile we’ve had our first outside contact since February as the Canadians have flown in to join us.
The ship has left Hobart to come and get us and our time here is quickly coming to a close. On the one hand I’m mercilessly harassing our risk averse station leader into letting me experience everything I can in the last few weeks, and as a result I’ve pulled off some great little trips away.
It was dark outside Davis living quarters on Sunday morning as we made the final preparations for departure on our traverse to the Rauer island group. A small handful of dedicated fellow expeditioners had gathered to send us off, somehow making things seem serious. We are only going for five days, right? Nevertheless the six of us, three in each vehicle, were going to have to be completely sufficient for our trip as we would be too far away from the skeleton crew left at station for them to be of any help. This trip was in many ways the climax of the winter season. My best day of the Antarctic experience was the helicopter trip to the Rauer islands in the summer. This Rauers traverse trip was to be the best week.