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April 21st – 27th , 2014 - Palmer Station

Some Time at Palmer Station

by Steve Sweet

Steve Sweet

We have been busy over the last week or so, doing many of the same things we did last week and getting to know the folks aboard the Laurence M. Gould better and rekindling our friendship with the station divers. Here is a quick timeline on our activities over the past week:
April 21: Boating 2 Training
April 22: Sediment sampling with the divers
April 23-24: At Palmer Station
April 25: Departure from Palmer Station – more Smith-McIntyre Grabs the off to set fish traps.
April 26-26: Trawling off of Low Island for Icefish and recovery of fish traps.
April 27: Early morning Smith-McIntyre Grabs and back on Palmer Station

Once we arrived at Palmer Station we got our samples stored on the Station and were off to Boating 2, the practical part of the boating training classes. We took Boating 1 on the ship taught by Ryan where he taught us the ropes and how to be safe when boating. Safety is a recurring theme here on the ice, everyone is very concerned about your safety when working around the station. Working smart makes sense down here as well, it would take at least 4 days for you to be evacuated if you got badly hurt! It would also negatively impact the research activities of our colleagues, involve taking the ship away from its duties, and cost a lot of money.

Putting up a tent
Learning to assemble a tent in Boating 2 class

learning to tie knots
Linnah, Steve and Ryan learning to tie bowline knots in Boating 2

lighting the stove
Learning to light a whisperlight stove - just like back in McMurdo in November!

Survial Equipment on a Zodiac
These are the contents of the survival bag aboard each zodiac. Saftey is of paramount concern

Back to Boating 2, the course started at 1300 in the boathouse. We learned what was in the survival caches on each of the surrounding islands, how to set up a tent, and work a portable stove. Weather changes quickly here on the peninsula and we had to be prepared in case the conditions deteriorated and we had to hunker down and wait for the weather to pass. After the classroom setting, we were off to the Zodiac, an inflatable boat, to learn the pre boating check-out procedures and then the group took off in a boat where we learned how to drive and land on one of the islands. We drove around so everyone got a chance to pilot the boat and get comfortable with the boat.

Natalie drives the boat
Natalie drives the boat in Boating 2

Andrew in Boating 2
Andrew in Boating 2

We drove by the wreck of the Bahai Pariaso, and Argentinian supply vessel that visited Palmer Station in 1989 and ran aground.  I was there in 1989 when we were sent to study the effects of the oil spills shortly after it ran aground. All you could see was a piece of the bottom of the hull as we went by, the rest of the overturned ship was all below water. The last part of our training was how to rescue someone who had fallen overboard so that nobody else got hurt. We had a dummy who we tossed in the water and took turns both pulling him aboard and maneuvering the boat for others to rescue the dummy. By the time we were done it was back to the ship for dinner.

Rob, Steve, and Jack, the station divers and longtime friends, had some time the following
morning to collect some samples for us. Since we were boat certified we ran the boat while they collected sediment samples for us off Gammage Point and off the water intake. They make it look so easy and don’t seem cold when they are diving, I don’t know how they can take such cold temperatures. We sure have been lucky so far in getting our sediment samples.

Diver preparations
Divers (Jack, Rob and Steve) preparing to work on the pier

Steve handling zodiac
Steve pilots the zodiac heading out to dive

Jack Baldelli
Jack Baldelli after a dive

We spent the next couple of days at Palmer Station where we have internet access which allowed us the opportunity to catch up on work form back home. We also busied ourselves with some lab work and making preparations for our next trip out on the LMG.

On April 25th we departed Palmer Station and collected a few more sediment samples on the way out fishing. The trawling and the fish traps were a great success over the next couple of days, lots of fish were collected for subsequent study at Palmer Station. We got back to the station before daybreak and a few early morning sediment samples were collected before we docked.

lighting up an iceberg from the LMG
The LMG lights up an iceberg blocking our exit from Palmer. The berg eventually floated off

Fishing vista 1
A vista from the Gould - 1

fishing vista 2
A vista from the Gould 2

Fishing vista 3
Icebergs and mountains from the Gould

Andrew at Sea
Andrew on the deck of the Gould


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