Thursday, January 11, 2007


Work started the moment the mooring lines were secure. For seven days, scientists, managers and doctors forgot their respective professions, donned overalls and together with the crew moved 500 tonnes of cargo the 60km up to base. Split into two teams, we all worked 12hour shifts with plenty of banter as to which had moved the most. My first role was driver’s mate, loading cargo from ship-side to the sledge and then onto the aircraft at the ski-way a few kilometres away.

One night, well into our 13th hour of work, we took a sledge of frozen food up to the ski-way in poor weather conditions. A 25 knot wind and heavily overcast sky forced us to huddle behind a wall of food boxes and wait for the aircraft to appear. Just when we began to think the flight was off, Ice Cold Katy droned out of the gloom. Approaching in poor contrast and a cross-wind, Ian circled just once and made a perfect landing – even the RAF boys were impressed.

Later in the week, I moved into the ship’s hold to load cargo onto the crane. The worst aspect of this was the thousand 200litre fuel drums: heavy, awkward and prone to trap fingers. We all feared mangled hands and recurring nightmares, but were kept going by Davey’s terrible jokes – even at the end of a knackering shift the jolly sailor could raise a smile. This was dangerous work, but thanks to clear instructions from the crew and the sturdy nature of the Fids, the whole job passed without a single injury. Posted by Picasa


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