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Published: January 20th 2008
We have been on base and grafting away since that big day, my birthday on 20 Dec.
Today is Sat and normally we would be out there in the thick of things however the elephants/elements are well and truly against us and there is a 30-knot constant blow outside with big drifts and about 10-meter visibility. So, until somebody stupid enough tells us its OK to go outside we are stuck indoors, passing the time waiting for the wind to die.
What better time for an update and piccies of the job so far.
When we arrived on base the very first job was to set up the Logistics tent on site which is where we are having our morning and afternoon smokos (tea breaks), its also a refuge in the dry away from the wind for the box unpacking team.
As soon as this was finished the big cargo ship which was hired from the Ruskies for the job had arrived alongside the ice shelf and was beginning to unload all the supplies. First off were the space frames. These are the main section of the module with temporary skis attached. This allows them to be towed from
the ice shelf to the base ready for us to do our part, which is removing the temp legs and replacing them with the hydraulic jacking legs.
While this was taking place on base the relief of the 2 ships was taking place under a 24-hour shift system, which luckily I wasn’t on!! However, during this period everybody had to be extra careful of disturbing one another, which is quite a task when it’s a building site outside!! Fair play to all though and tonnes and tonnes of equipment and containers found its way onto base to be layed out on the cargo lines ready for us to install.
13 days later, relief was complete. Unfortunately, members of the upper ranks have decided on making the site pretty much a no alcohol zone. Well, not exactly none yet 2 cans a night, which you can only drink in the bar, unlike before when you could stash them in your room for a good session at the weekend. Anyway, due to the shift system and everything else, Xmas, New Year, even my 30 bday all passed by in a completely sober mood. I must say I think this is
the first time in my adult drinking life that I can say that, man it was tough. Im sure ill make up for it when I get out of here!!
However, the management shook off their scrooge suits and after waving goodbye to the Shackleton, which is heading back to Cape Town, we had a good old summer BBQ, or Braai to our South African counterparts. Beer was finally readily available so after about 4 cans of Stella everyone was pretty much half cut, especially after mixing it with the punch which had been knocked up.
Obviously, with alcohol at the ready, food filling everyones bellies and snow at our feet, what better reason do you need for a mass snowball fight????
This had to be the longest snowball fight I have ever been in and after over an hour of missing everyone from a distance, kamikaze raids became the norm. These generally resulted in me getting absolutely beaten to a pulp by all the South African lads who are built like bears, but it was all-good none the less.
Luckily the next day we were allowed a day off to relax and recover from all the efforts
over relief and I made a nice day of it by going for a ski around the perimeter in glorious conditions. Due to the area we are in, when you are out on the perimeter away from the noise of the buildings generators, there is nothing but absolute silence. You can quite literally hear the blood pulsing through your head. Its absolutely amazing on quiet days out there so hopefully we will get a few more before the seasons out.
Now back to the job. Our little team of guys, Jakey, Oz the crane Driver and myself, including an engineer (Dan) and a hydraulics dude (Chocolate Ed), have been steaming ahead trying to get as much done as possible. We have changed the legs on 5 modules to date which leaves only 2 more to complete, that’s 20 legs so far, 8 remaining. The last 2 will be getting left for a while now as we move onto the superstructure of the 2 energy modules. These have had the floors laid and all the big plant placed inside so now we have to do our part, build the rest of the frame and cover them in a massive tent!!
This will allow the mechanical and electrical teams to get inside and start building the working parts.
So, all is looking rosy really and I believe we are somewhere on schedule. Even the late arrival on base hasn’t held us back and as long as the weather doesn’t get to bad we will hopefully achieve what has been set out in the programme. However, its early days still and there’s loads left to do yet so I will update you all with a bit more info a few more weeks down the line.
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