Monday, February 20, 2012

Brisvegas Baby

As a final chapter to this story, I feel like I need to mention Brisbane, Australia. But first, I want to talk about how we got off ship.

We spent a few days anchored off the coast of Brisbane since the port was not ready for our slightly early arrival. This was fine by us, it meant that we got to hang out in the tropical sun and enjoy summertime off the gold coast for a while longer. This was also the opportune time to test our life saving equipment on board.

MOTOR BOAT (crewed by the 3rd mate, 3rd engineer, and the Deck Cadet, Brittany)

We kept insisting that we could jump over the side to be the man-overboard dummy (the water was gorgeous) but we were told that there were sharks. As it turns out, they weren't kidding.

Our final night on board was spent packing and cleaning our rooms. By chance we ran into the first engineer who told us about the dolphins and sharks playing around our ship.

Fish like to gather under anchored ships during the day for the shade, and are attracted to the light cast off by the ship at night. The more appropriate word rather than play might have been feeding frenzy.

There were atleast 8+ dolphins and a shark just circling around our ship. You can distinguish a shark from a dolphin in that it's tale moves from side to side rather than up and down.

I did try to take photos, but it was too dark out for my camera to be effective. But to give you an idea of how well we could see these dolphins... Kate and I are pretty sure we saw one that was rather excited.
Attempted Dolphin Photography (This was a group of four...)

Since we didn't have a gangway since we were still anchored in water, a pilot boat was scheduled to come get the crew that was leaving. This was a lot of fun, our luggage were lowered onto the deck using line, and we ourselves got to shimmy down a pilot ladder (like a rope ladder you see in a movie) and found ourselves cruising across the blue waters of the gold coast in a 4 meter motor boat.

With customs and a drive into Brisbane, we didn't get to our hotel until around 1430. But wow, was the room rooms suite splendid! It was essentially four rooms (living area, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) with two balconies.

Awesome Midnight Swim

The Waterfront Where We Had Dinner With The Crew

After a fun night, our flight left at 11am with the ultimate destination of Newark, New Jersey and a total 18+ hours of airtime.
Brisbane --> LA --> Dallas --> Newark

And that concludes my adventure to and from Antarctica.
Again, I want to thank everyone who made this possible, and say thank you to the awesome crew on board the Maersk Peary, who really made this sea term an incredible experience.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Way Back

I have to apologize for not posting recently. I was going through penguin withdrawal and was very busy... and lazy. I'm writing this from New Jersey with access to far quicker internet which is also very motivating.

Our departure from McMurdo was very undramatic. We went around the turning basin that the ice breaker had formed for us, and maybe a few kilometers off shore we parked for more than a day to refuel the Vladimir Ignatyuk.

This meant we got to sit there, and look longingly ashore.

Refueling In Ice

The Turning Basin

We also got a chance to take some pictures with that banner I mentioned way back, which I completed with Kate.
 The Awesome Engine Room

When all that was said and done, frankly, we were all tire of ice and the sun. Looking outside at one in the morning to find the sun up high was maddening rather than exciting at that point. Thankfully the weather on our way back north was mostly cloudy and snowy/rainy, so we weren't to see much of anything anyways.
The Fantastic View From My Window


In the meantime we had stopped being tourists and returned to our duties as cadets.
D. Simmons!
The banner also lead to some interesting side projects....

Our next port was Brisbane, Australia. Then it was up in the air whether or not the Peary was headed for Singapore or South Korea. We had to make a decision at this point where we were going to get off ship. While South Korea would have been awesome..... we wern't allowed to miss the first few days of our semester so Brisbane became our final destination. Since Brisbane is more or less directly above McMurdo, this also meant that our return journey would be quite shorter.

This meant we had to cram in some life-at-sea moments. We succeeded in seeing groups of fly fish (they look like bubbles at first glance) super man across the water infront of the bow and were keen on catching the green flash, but it was too cloudy for that to happen.

Learning to navigate with Stars

Monday, February 6, 2012

Summer Camp Day III

Our third day at McMurdo Station started off with a tour of Discovery Hut (after a morning of giving a few tours). This one hundred year old hut contains all of the remnants of an abandoned expedition in pristine condition. Because of Antarctica’s dry climate, food sources that were left behind, such as dead seals, are actually still there. This meant the hut didn’t smell pleasant, but still it’s still pretty cool to see a century old seal carcass. The history of the race to the South Pole is fascinating, as we found out through Drunk History; however I will cite a slightly more legitimate source, Wikipedia.

Century Old Dead Seal Mummy

Discovery Hut

Nom Nom Nom

Vintage Food

Accomodation Deck

Slaughter House

To Never Be Laid To Rest

We then discovered some amazing sights on a neature walk surrounding Discovery Hut.

Post Card Shot

Un-friggen Believable

The Highlight of our day was visiting Pegasus Runway, the major ice runway operating in and out of Ross Island. Some lucky members of our crew had gotten a full tour of the airway earlier (including pictures in the Cockpit, lucky $%&@!$%# superiors), but our friend was working when we arrived so we had to content ourselves with a mostly self-guided tour of some very cool airplanes that have been operating since WWII.  (They don’t look it)
McMurdo is actually within it's last month of operation for the summer season, so alot of people were waiting around to board the cargo plane home.
Understandably, everyone seemed excited to go hug a tree.
The "Airport"

The Cargo Plane, C-14

On our return journey the shuttle driver (our friend who also showed us the Ivan the Terra Bus) stopped so we could take photos Facebook profile pictures with an Emperor Penguin that was molting (changing feathers, they don’t like to move during this apparently painful process)!! <--exclamation marks represent my excitement at seeing the penguin, not the discomfort it's going through.



Most things are closed at McMurdo on Mondays so we spent a relaxing evening hanging out in a lounge with a few friends we had made. Apparently getting a job at McMurdo Station (as a support staff) is competitive but not unrealistic (especially if you know someone there).
If you’re thinking about it… CLICK HERE. Don't forget your colouring book!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Summer Camp Day II

While at McMurdo the cadets were responsible for giving tours of the ship during the morning hours. So we headed out to McMurdo again from noon. We started that afternoon by checking out Ivan the Terra Bus (The First Engineer had made friends with the driver).
(Photo Credit Conor)
We ended up attending the McMurdo Film Festival that featured short films made by the “Antarcticans” that varied from zombie movies to comedy in nature. My favorite that I got to see was “Drunk History,” which was actually very informative on the history of Antarctica and the race to the South Pole, and absolutely entertaining.
When some plans fell through, we ended up trekking towards the neighboring New Zealand Base (Scott Base).


The Kiwi Base is considerably smaller than McMurdo station, housing maybe 200 people during the Summer Season. We ended up meeting their engineer who gave us a full tour of the base and explained the power generation on Ross Island (He was in charge of maintaining the wind mills that power McMurdo and Scott Base alike, as well as the generators). The base was mostly empty, everybody was packing up to leave for the winter season, except for the few people who will winter over, or gone skiing. (Yes there is skiing in Antarctica and yes I am disappointed I didn’t have the opportunity to ski).

Everything is "Machine Green"

Pretty Far From Home

An inside look @ Scotts Hut (The original Hut for the Kiwi Base)

The Original Goods


The Rugby Cup for the "Southern Most Rugby Game"

Cool Toys

After we made our way back (this time by shuttle), we enjoyed a relatively quiet evening at McMurdo station. The bar was hosting a special burger night, and we made friends with some cool people while enjoying this awesome creation.
Yes That's a Grilled Cheese Bun Burger

And then there was "sun set", not that the sun sets.