Thursday, August 21, 2008

SNAFU! Part Duex

When we last visited our intrepid heroes (You know, us), they (we) were collectively standing around scratching our heads and wondering how the heck the ship was going to make a port call with that bit of fishing line in the way.

The ship had now been hanging out off the point for the better part of 48 hours. The people who were on the ship who were coming to the station desperately wanted off, and the people on station were anxious to get at the red, green, yellow, orange, and brown gold stored in the ship's hold; FRESHIES!!!

Eventually, we all put our heads together, and came up with a plan. A few problems stood in our way, though; Mostly, the weather was deteriorating. Temps were holding steady at 10f or so, but the wind was creeping up to 45mph sustained, gusting over 55mph, with snow still coming down pretty heavily. Combine with all the sea spray, any exposed skin feels like it's getting sandblasted with ice and snow being driven into your pores by the wind.

The first step of this plan, was for the LMG to get as close to Gamach point as it dared, which ended up being a few hundred feet off.

And then, we needed to somehow get a rope from the LMG, to the people standing on the point. No one can throw a monkeyfist (a large knot at the end of a line, often with some lead shot or rocks woven into it for weight) three hundred feet in 45mph crosswinds, let alone with that much line attached to it. So how do we get that line across?

With a rocket.

They missed by, quite literally, a mile. The rocket followed the angle of elevation perfectly, and left 2,000 feet of line dangling into the sky. The wind grabbed all of this line and carried it way down Hero Inlet, with the spent rocket landing just a few hundred feet from our fuel tanks. It turns out that no one on the ship had ever used one of these before, so they had no idea how much it needed to be elevated, or how much to compensate for the wind, etc. That first video was actually taken by our Carpenter, Graham. These next vids, of the second try, were taken by Sean and Carla.

Their second try, they were much more accurate. At this distance, the rocket didn't need to be elevated much, and keeping it lower meant less wind correction was needed. It wasn't perfect; you can see at the end of the video that the line got snagged on the weather station antenna. But we cut it down, and all was fine. We still have the rocket; we plan on making a plaque for it and mounting it in the bar.

Now that we had a line across, the boat attached a pulley and loop of rope to the rocket line. We pulled it over, and attached the pulley to one of the bollards (the big stump thing that we attach the ship's mooring lines to).

So now, we had this loop of line going between the ship and us. The ship then took the motors and equipment out of one of their Zodiac boats, tied it to the line, and used it as a big sled that could be pulled back and forth over the ice.

It actually worked pretty well. The line was hooked up to a winch on the ship, so while it wasn't fast going, it wasn't wearing us out. This did give us a lot of "stand around and be cold" time, though. But when you put a bunch of stressed-out people on a point out in the ocean in a snowstorm and tell them to stand around for a while, they'll find ways of amusing themselves. This involved snowball fights, silly pictures, and a lot of Shackleton jokes.

(yeah, that's me in the middle there, sitting down. Just in case it wasn't already clear, I didn't take any of these photos or videos. Various people did, including Graham, PQ, Liz, Waz, and Carla)

The first things that came across were some humans, and a couple crates of science gear. After that, the most important cargo of all; FRESHIES!

The Zodiac was unloaded via a human chain, and piled everything sort of on shore.

From there, though, it was still a thousand-foot walk along the point back to station. I'm honestly surprised no one broke an ankle or anything, as it's VERY uneven rocks and boulders, covered by three feet of fresh snow. There wasn't much way to tell if where you were about to step would send you sinking down to your waist, or would be firm footing (or worse, the edge of a rock that would send you sprawling). Most of the freshies made it over okay; a we had a potato blowout and the peaches froze (but still made a good pie). There were a couple people who came off the ship, as well as a few boxes of critical stuff, and the silver trunk ((containing a package from my dad and a letter from my Grandma. Thanks!).

There was no way we were getting the heavier cargo off, and by this time it was 8pm, so the LMG left to do some fishing a few hundred miles to the south. It's supposed to come back tomorrow, though, with a load of fish . . . and we still have no way to tie it up. I have a feeling it's going to be a LOT of 5-gallon buckets with fish in 'em being hand-carried.

I'm trying to think of a good way to wrap this up, but words are kinda failing me. So just enjoy the pictures, and, um . . . yeah. I'm goin' to bed.

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