Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Big Red One.

Quite a few of us gathered at about 2.30 am to welcome “A-Module” (the big red one!) to site 6a. Unfortunately our temp camp roof terrace view is now obstructed by the Drewry building, but never mind. The red Module houses the communal living areas – dining room, lounge area, TV room/library and gym…. as well as my “office”, the kitchen. It joins the other four Modules and the Bridge that are here already.

The landscape around here is mildly undulating (very mildly!), which means you can’t see the Modules being towed in until relatively late in the game. So it’s quite exciting to try and spot it on the horizon and finally see the module appear in the distance and watch it round the bend into the 6a perimeter.

It takes some work to ensure all the Modules are properly aligned. The finer points to this are done after each Module is towed into position, but to get it as close as possible to centre the Modules are towed in following a flag line. 

As it nears the end a few people along the way stand at the flag line and instruct the vehicle drivers to make any slight adjustments to their line. Al was stood under the Bridge right up against the Melt Tanks (that provide our water in the Modules), which are positioned right below and in the middle of the Bridge. 

The vehicles pulling the Module can only continue on so far underneath until the Melt Tanks block their path. The Piston Bully was right up against it when it stopped. The Bull Dozers could then continue on slightly further together, without driving into the back of the PB. Once they had all stopped there was a small effort to see if they could just edge the Module slightly further forward using one Dozer, but it didn’t have quite enough oomph to get the Module going on its own. It’ll do nicely just where it is now.

The tracks left by A-Module are pretty impressive. The tracks from the blue Modules were really quite soft with just a hard ridge in the centre line. But this time the tracks are pretty solid and highly polished. Really slippery to stand on. The skis sat a lot deeper in the snow (relatively speaking) meaning there was quite a bit more drag. 

In terms of Modules to move, it’s now just C-Module, which houses the Surgery, the Comms office and the Station Leader’s office, and the two B-Modules (the accommodation Modules). We have a bit of weather coming in today and over the weekend, so hopefully that won’t cause any delays.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A little ski around base.

I went for a little ski around the base the other day. Mainly it was a little ski because it turned out the contrast was just as bad as it looked, so I got a bit fed up and headed in. 

But it gave me a chance to take a few pics of the Modules (and the bridge). Work has progressed since and the bridge is now in place as well as another module on the other side. We are actually expecting the large red module tonight, but I will post about that another time.

This is what the central temporary camp looks like at the moment. The Drewry and the Garage are the two red buildings. The Weatherhaven mess tent more in the foreground and Drewry and Garage beyond. 

We do have a few cool vehicles about here….but I’m not sure this is one of them! Quite funny to be out and about and be overtaken by Ian driving the “Genie” cherry picker. Of course I had to take a photo!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Drewry Move

Today our camp doubled in numbers.

The Drewry building, which is the summer accommodation, got dragged all the way here from site 6. This building gets moved a short distance each summer to deal with snow accumulation, but usually only 10 or 20 meters I think. It sits permanently on skis to allow this to happen. All the residents got packed inside to enjoy the slow journey over.
A few of us got up on top of the containers again to see it arriving. 

Rich and Paul got a good view from on top of the Waste Sledge.

  After entering the perimeter it took a wide swing to the side to make sure it could stop in just the right spot. The skis it sits on are less efficient than the ones the Modules sit on, so it takes quite a bit of horsepower to ensure it won’t dig in and stop – hence the six hefty vehicles pulling it. 

It now sits practically right on our doorstep! And it brings our numbers here at 6a to 54. We are now the bigger of the two camps, but hoping our peace and quiet won’t be too violently shattered!

 There are more Module moves coming up this week, weather permitting. 
That doesn't mean I'll be posting about them right away - I think these first 3 posts of 2017 are and anomaly! 

2nd Module Move

The other night, at about 1am, saw the arrival of another Module. 
What a lovely night to be out and about. This time I watched mostly from on top of our container camp home before walking over for a closer look when the time came.

 The view from the "roof terrace" looking back to the lone Module already here.

Al and Chris up on the roof.

The Modules are lowered right down on their legs, which are then braced together, to be moved. They then get jacked up again once they are here. The vehicles can then drive right underneath to bring the Modules to meet each other, or near enough. 

They are then joined together, and thus sealed, by an adjustable “Slinky” – type outer wall, for want of a better description. Much like the middle of bendy buses.

These two Modules (H1 and H2) house the science offices.

And... a picture of a Piston Bully for good measure :) 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Relief, Fakemas and a Module Move

Happy New Year to everybody! 
It’s certainly been busy here at Halley 6a for a number of weeks. And with just about 8 weeks left in the summer season there’s still a load of work to be done.

Our “Relief” went smoothly. For those that don’t know that is when the ship, the RRS Ernest Shackelton, arrives with all our supplies for the coming year (and more). Obviously we are not right at the edge of the ice shelf so the ship has to moor a little ways away and all the containers, fuel drums, random cargo gets dragged here on sledges towed by various large vehicles. Nearly all the new cargo came here to 6a rather than 6 and so we had two teams working 24 hours in 12-hour shifts for a week and a half.

This meant we worked through Christmas and Boxing Day and shifted our celebrations to the 28th  - on Fakemas. The guys who had been on nights had a day or so to switch their body clocks back so we could have a traditional Fakemas dinner together and a little down time.
From a kitchen point of view Dinner went well. We started with some canapés and some mulled cider. A soup starter was next followed by a mandarin sorbet before launching in to a full on turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I’m not sure if many bothered with the Fakemas pud or cheese board to finish but they were there all the same.  There were also the obligatory Fakemas board games on the go – Banagrams (if that’s how you spell it)….where have you been all my life??

Looking slightly Fakemassy in my room :)

Canapés and mulled cider. 

I managed to grab a day off on “Foxing” day thanks to Al and Rich offering to cook dinner for everybody. So I finally got out on my new skis with my camera and took a few photos in some lovely roasting weather. The base has such a small footprint at the moment, which is really nice for some reason. 

The garage and vehicles team has groomed the perimeter for a smooth ski around. 

The cargo lines are looking neat, tidy and plentiful!

I also got round to taking a pic of the fuel dumps. We use bulk tanks for a lot of fuel, but we still use a lot of drums too. These get stacked methodically – as shown. I wish I had got some photos of the unloading and stacking process, but these usually came in during Relief right before and during meal times! Maybe next year!

And the big news a couple of evenings ago was the first Module being towed here to 6a from 6. It arrived at around 2am. It wasn’t known exactly how long it would take to shift it here and it ended up being much quicker than people thought – at about 6kmph I believe. What a sight to see that coming over the horizon!

 A few of us hopped onto skidoos to go and see it and see it crossing the perimeter here. 

The garage and vehicles guys have done great work on the “road” and the tracks the Module left were so surprisingly shallow and soft – just a single hard ridge in the centre of each track. From the perimeter to its final destination the vehicles followed a central flag line. In this pic Doc Neil is taking each flag out and laying it down for the vehicles and modules to drive over. 

My camera battery decided to die, just before it got into place unfortunately.
We have another planned Module move tonight with the Drewery being moved in the next few days. This is the summer accommodation and will double our lovely peaceful numbers here at 6a (sad face). It means all the tech guys will be here getting to work on the Modules as they move over one by one.