Yet another upside of being at Palmer Station is the ability to go boating recreationaly. And really, their requirements for it are pretty loose. Has to be at least two people who've taken Boating I and II, and the boat coordinator has to feel comfortable with them going out. As long as that's all good, it's just a question of free time and weather.
Boating time is from half an hour after sunrise to half an hour before sunset, and as long as the wind is under 20 knots. Unfortunetly, this time of year there's only a couple hours of sunlight, and the odds of the wind being under 20 knots during the middle of the day on on of our very few days off is pretty rare.
However, last saturday, all the planets aligned and someone did a good-weather dance, and we were able to get out for a spin. It was I, the electrician, one of the beakers, the admin person, and one of the logistics girls. I coordinated and orginized the whole thing as . . . well because I'm enthusiastic to the point of idiocy about getting to go boating. We drove around, took some pictures, and just enjoyed being out in the ocean and getting cold and wet.
Given that I was driving, I didn't get many chances to take pictures, and the few I got weren't very interesting. But some of the others snapped a few of me when we were out, and when I was picking the boats up out of the water with the boating coordinator.
Wow do I look like a dork.
When I go boating, I generally wear the following
-Thin socks (almost like dress socks)
-Chemical warmer stuck in between the thin and thick socks (can't have them directly on skin)
-Thick wool socks
-My (waterproof) boots
-skintight glove liner (basically a very thin stretchy glove)
-medium-thickness polyester glove liner
-insulated dish glove
-suit's hood (if it's windy)
-Would be nice if I had a mask, but the one they issued me has tinted lenses, and it's way too dim here this time of year for them.
-skintight long underwear
-thicker long underwear
-tight fleece tee-shirt
-long-sleeved slick undershirt (dunno what the material is, but it's slippery, which is good, prevents it from bunching up)
-long-sleeve thick-ish shirt/thin sweater
-possibly a Polar fleece (depending on how cold it is)
On top of all that I wear a full-body Mustang Suit, which is that bright orange thing that you see me wearing. They are AWESOME. They're really thick, wind and waterproof, and they're designed to float, so they act as a life preserver. And the padding is thick enough that when you slip and fall on your ass, it doesn't hurt. And they're surprisingly easy to move in, and have a lot of adjustability to create a good fit, I like them a lot. Some people wear just the Mustang coat, but I prefer the full-body ones.
One of the things you sometimes have to contend with when you're boating is "brash ice", which is a big stream or area of small chunks of floating ice. It's not a big deal, you just have to go really slowly (idle speed generally), and have a couple people leaning out over the bow with paddles to push the larger chunks out of the way. Which is what I and the beaker were doing in this picture (I'm on the left).
BTW, that little black smudge near the left edge of the picture at the foot of the glacier, right on the water? That's our station.
Unfortunetly, the wind started to pick up while we were out, so we had to head home. And given how unlikely it was that anyone would be going boating later in the day, I helped pick the boats up out of the water.
(I'm the guy still in the boat)
One person stays in the boat and holds it against the rocks with the engine to let everyone and their stuff out, and then one of the people who's jumped out grabs the bow line to help stabilize things. The person in the boat then backs off the rocks, and the skytrack guy extends the boom to the boat, so the person in the boat can reach up and clip the cradle lines onto the hook. Once the boat is clipped onto the skytrack, it's not going anywhere, so the guy in the boat gets the engine shut down and jumps out, so they can then lift the boat up and carry it to where ever they're going to put it.
And now, just some random pictures of me doing this stuff. I actually needed to help bring in two boats, because as long as there's any other boats out, the OSAR (Ocean Search And Rescue) boat #7 has to be in the water, prepped and ready to go in case of an emergency. So we needed to pull in our boat, and the OSAR boat. Pulling in two boats involved a lot of tricky jumping from boat to boat to get stern lines unhooked and untangled and things, but no one got pics of that.
Hrm, another photo where I look like a dork. Maybe I should admit that I almost always look like a dork. Whatever. The paddle on my lap was what I was using to try and push that chunk of ice out of the way so that I could get to the stern line rope to unhook the lines.
Unhooking the stern lines of the OSAR boat
Me maneuvering the OSAR boat in around the sea ice so it can be picked up by the Skytrack. That white rope going across the frame is the stern line, where we'll usually tie the boats off to if we're leaving them in the water.
Me climbing out of one of the boats after I'd finished hooking up the lift cradle, and shutting down and locking the engine. That's one of the beakers holding the bow line so that I can get out of the boat without dieing. (the eagle eyed of you will notice that I'm getting out of a different boat then the one I'm in in the other pictures)
That's the boating coordinator in the skytrack, letting us know where he's going to be putting the boat once he lifts it out of the water (so that we know where to stand with the guide lines)
Anyway, yeah, so that's rec boating. It's wet, it's cold, it's windy, bumpy, often seasickness-inducing, and totally awesome in all ways.