Sunday, December 25, 2005

Final Leg

After Bird Island, we were now on the final leg of our journey, a 10 day sail to the edge of the Brunt Ice Shelf. Luckily we had plenty to keep ourselves occupied on the way down. On Al the Chef's birthday the girls made a range of cocktails which everyone enjoyed. We had a quiz night organised by Nathan, kicking off with a viewing of his star appearance on Weakest Link, which he won! I think he was trying to set a standard. Our team came a creditable third, despite only getting about two right on the literature round. We also had an acoustic night in the bar where the more talented members of the party played and sang a very wide range of numbers in the bar , much to everyone's appreciation. However, highlight of the social calendar was undoubtedly Race Night. This was advertised as Ladies Night, top hat and tails required! The whole day was spent by most people in a frenzy of costume making, cardboard, silver foil and gaffer tape everywhere. I cheated somewhat as I had a dinner suit with me (knew it would come in handy), but managed to make a silver cane out of a mop handle, and even topped it with a horse. The evening was great fun, betting was in 'Shackles' which were purchased beforehand. There was also the option to buy horses, which were raced round a course marked on the floor of the bar according to the spin of a wheel. I won on one race, but neither of the horses I owned came anywhere, one of them baulked at the water hazard 6 times!

All dressed up for Race Night

Apart from the socialising there was of course work to be done, we had a series of training sessions covering first aid, vehicles, harness checking and more, designed to complement what we learned in Cambridge before we left, as well as ship emergency drills. I also volunteered to help with a project launching probes off the back of the ship in order to measure sea temperature at different depths. This information was then sent off to the Met Office in England.

In amongst all this hectic activity I even managed to find time to test out the samba drums kindly donated by Bloco-Do-Sul ( Dorking's premier samba band rehearsals every Monday first two workshops free is that enough of a plug Mick?). After just a couple of hours a keen group of 12 amateurs had managed to put together a decent sounding batucada. Hopefully this is the first of many, as we hope to have some samba going on at Halley as well. We celebrated our success by playing out on the Poop Deck, luckily the sea was quite calm!

Shackleton sambistas

During this time we also passed 66 degrees south, into the proper Antarctic, and had our first days with no darkness. So far I haven't been affected, it'll take more than a bit of sunlight to stop me sleeping!

Sea ice and sunshine, about 1 am


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