Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Antarctic Sun

Follow this link to an article by Sparky Sean Bonnette at Palmer.


Friday, July 3, 2009


Today is Friday The 3rd of July and I have just arrived home. We have had no internet connection since leaving Palmer. We left on schedule but with the intent of heading to Frei Base on King George Island to help the O'Higgins base with the bad switch gear. We were unable to reach Frei Base due to heavy sea ice and had to turn to the north and Punta Areans, Chile. It was a smooth crossing and I will fill in with more detals soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not so fast.....

Word has just been received that we may go tonight. One of the Chilean bases has lost power and we may have to go on a rescue mission. More as details become available

Time to go

It is Thursday June the 25th and I am prepping to move to the LM Gould for the trip home.

I leave here with mixed emotions for the new friends I have made but also with great anticipation to again be with my beautiful wife.

So so long Palmer Station, It's been a great trip.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mid Winter Celebration

One of the big events for winter over crews in Antarctica is the celebration of Mid Winter. All the stations send greetings to each othe and some are very creative. The ones that come from the other countries are cool. I'll be posting them on the Picasaweb site when I get the files converted.

Palmer Station was no different and marked the occasion 2 days early, due to the LM Gould's scheduled arrival. We roasted a pig and had a fairly formal dinner, well as formal as you can be in Antarctica. Check out the rig used to turn the pig. It became known as "Craig Riggin' ". But It worked and we had a great dinner.

Happy Father's Day

I feel very, very fortunate to still have my Pop. A great man, a great Dad, a great Grandpa, and a great Greatgrandpa. Oh, and Mom, he's probably a great Husband!

Love you, POP

R.I.P. Gran

I just received word of the passing of my children's grandmother on their mothers side. She fought a long battle with cancer but beat it for many years with out heavy drugs. Condolences to all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Things of haircuts and Polar plunges...

Don't worry, no haircut for me. Just some wild color. One of the guys on station was helping raise some money for AIDS relief in Africa. He raffled off tickets to cut volunteers hair. We had 4 victims: Myself, the cook, the Doc and our Logistics person (2 girls, 2 guys). Of course the girls ended up bald after a few different styles were tried, the cook looked like Fred Flinstone and I had some interesting color happening. A few shot are here and there are more on the Picasaweb site. A fun evening was had and several hundred dollars raised (remember there arn't many of us here)

One of the long lasting traditions here is the Palmer Plunge. When the boat heads back to Chile, we send off the North bound folks by jumping off the pier into the 28 degree water. This video sais it all: There should be a R rating on some of the clip. This was the first time for me and most likely the last.

The last item today was most likely my last boating trip on the Zodiak. The weather was great for once and we spent about 2 hours out traveling to near by islands. We only have about 5 hours of daylight so time is limited. We saw lots of furseals and elephant seals as well as giant pectrols.

Lots more photos coming up on the Picasaweb site

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Deadliest Catch.... well not quite


One of the perks we get here is a chance to "fishing" with the science crews. The Fish Beakers need victims for their tests so every 10 days or so they swap places with the Whalers (the whale observers) and go get fish. They use nets and pots to catch several types of Ice Fish that live near the bottom. Some of these fish actually have no hemoglobin in their blood so it is white, very strange.

The LM Gould that I came here on comes back to take the science crews out for their tasks. This time 5 of us from station got to go. It's kinda a boondoggle because we only do what we want to as far as helping. They have plenty of help but it's kinda cool to get involved at least for a bit. I helped with a number of net pulls and catching the pots. We went through some rough weather and I decided it would be beter to stay in bed for the morning on the second day. We spent 4 days on the water.

While resting I managed to get through the "Long Way Down" which is the cronicle of Ewan McGreggor and Charlie Boorman's ride on motorcycles from Scotland to Cape Town, South Africa. It was a great compliment to "Long Way Around" which was ther first trip from London to NY. I highly recomend both.

Be sure to see more fishing photos and station activity on the Picasa web site

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where the Skype are you?

A few weeks back one of our science guys (Neil, see his blog too) was part of an interview with Opra. It was aired today. Sorry I was not able to post in time but might catch the rerun. It showed some of the station and at the end a goup of us waving to the camera. Another 5 seconds toward my 15 minuets of fame. The photo is us watching the airing of in our lounge.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Zac

Today is my stepson's 21st birthday. It seems like just yesterday he was following Shaun and Brittany around looking up to them. Now they really look up to him, (he is about 6'4").

Happy birthday Zac

Two day weekend

We work long weeks here, usually 6 day 54 hour weeks. Once a month we have a 2 day weekend. Our schedule has be messed up with the ship coming and going on the science fishing and whaling cruises , so this break was long overdue. Of course right before the start of the weekend something has to break. Friday one of our main glycol circ pumps went out. Fortunately the repairs went smoothly and we started the break close to on time.
A couple of people organized a scavenger hunt for Saturday afternoon. We were give a sheet of about 90 small photos taken around station of various thing. The object was to find all these things and take a photo with a marker and see how many we could get. My group got 63 but I think 78 won. It was a good way to pass the afternoon. Here were some of the examples;

Sunday I will make Dad's Chili Pie for dinner. Hopefully everyone will survive.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Palmer Station group photo

This is the group photo of station personnel taken for the Opra interview. I think I am easy to spot. This group includes all support and the current science folks on station. And in case you were wondering, thats Neil. Photo by Sean Bonnett

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Can't seem to keep up

A number of things has happened since the last blog entry. Ill try to get you up to date. Around the time of the bumper rescue we had started GSAR training. This is Glacier search and rescue. If some one gets lost or hurt on the Glacier or back yard we have to bring them in. Our first day of training was cut short due to high winds on the glacier. We did some more training last Wednesday. We worked on roping together and climbing with cressix knots(sp?). It was challenging but a good exercise

I also spent several days building fish tanks for the research group from the U of Maine. They go out for about 4 days and catch these ugly fish that live in deep dark waters and bring them back and put them in the tanks we built. Then they do all kinds of things with the fish that I don't even know how to decribe. If this interests anyone go to the U of Maine marine science web site and look for Dr Bruce Sidel's work.

Today was a very interesting day. The morning found us watching one of our science tech interview with Opra. It will air in May sometime. The show is called "where the Skype are you" and was interviewed on the board walk outside my shop. Ill post when we know the air date. Funny thing about Skype is that it is banned here due to band width issues but they allowed this segment to work.
The afternoon found me helping the"Birders" out on a neighboring island track some baby giant Petrols. Two of the guys grabbed and weighed them while I recorded the info. They are big ugly birds with a fisty attitude but cool never the less.
There are lots more pictures on the Picasa site, so enjoy

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bumper wrangling

Hard to tell but that's me. This past week we had some rough weather and one of our pier bumpers that protect the Gould when docking came lose. These bumpers are quite large. The chain on one end is attached in a pulley system to allow it to ride with the waves. The pin holding it all together is welded to the bracket and it broke causing the pulley and weight to go to the bottom but still attached to the bumper. The waves were very rough and we had to corral the bumper with a zodiac and the secure it to the pier while we figured out how to bring up the weight and pully. Things might have been easier except fo the 4 cargo millvans left by the ship to be picked up later. We don't have anyway to move them from the pier. We finally came up with a solution that included some one getting a chain hocked to the anchor chain and since I was already in the boat. In the end we got the hardware back and repaired the pin and bracket. It was a timely repair because the Gould was returning from a science fishing trip the next morning and with out the bumper they would not have been able to dock.

I am trying to up load some video to the Picasa site that is good. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

60 seconds of fame

Check out this article in the Oklahoman.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Hike

Today is Sunday April 19th. I would like to remind everyone that this is the 14th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Please take a moment to remember and reflect.

Tom (my on ice supervisor) and I decided to take a hike up the glacier today. After getting settled into a good week of work without to many distraction it was time for a break. The hike to the top is only about 20 min if you don't stop to look around, which we did a lot of. We still don't have much snow so there was a lot of ice to walk on but we did so without incident. We saw some great views from the top.

This week we have GSAR training (glacier search and rescue). Hope to have some good pictures from that

More Phots of the hike on the Picasa web site

Monday, April 13, 2009

2 day weekend

We had our first two day weekend since arriving here. (we normally work a 54 hour, 6 day week but what else is there to do). The days are getting shorter so taking advantage of time off during the day is important. We will never have the full 24 hour darkness I had at Pole but we will have some very short days. A group of us decided to do some rec boating on Saturday. We geared up in float coats and water proof pants and put a zodiac in the water. The morning had brought a lot of brash ice into the harbor area. This is chunks of ice mostly from the glacier as it calves off hunks into the water. We ventured out slowly until we cleared the ice. We decided to visit two of the near by islands that are not off limits. One called Jacobs Island was at the outer limits of the boating area which is about 2 miles from station.

We hiked around seeing great views and stumbled across some fur seals.

They sound kinda like dogs growling and are quite nimble even onshore. After a while we decided to head to Deluca Island and a giant Pectrol nest. On the way we slid by the wreckage of a ship (that I can't recall the name of) that sunk here 15 or 20 years ago. It's a 400 ft boat and only 50 ft or so is visible.
I'm told on a calm day you can see the props in the water. After seeing the baby giant Pectrol we headed back to station passing a raft of Penguins on the way. The are very graceful when they swim. We got back just in time for a nap then hamburgers on the grill. Played poker with a group that evening and lasted 2 hours before dropping out.

Sunday was a short work day (about 2 hours) then relax.

Don't forget to check the Picasaweb site for more photos

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The first week

I've been on station now for about a week. There has been huge amounts of training and "turnover" which is learning you job from the person leaving your job. Today we spent 4 hours in a Zodiac boat learning how to navigate, drive and communicate with the base. We also did "man overboard" drills. We actually had several folks get in the freezing water(in special suits) and then rescued them. I hope to have some pictures of this stuff soon. I need to learn to carry my camera with me more often. I am constantly seeing the glacier calf huge chunks of ice but never have the camera. I will try to do better.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

catching up

I know, a long time between posts. After a full day in Punta Arenas and a night of very interesting bar hoIpping we collected our ECW gear and readied for the boat ride. A good smooth start on the Straights of Magellan.

We have been without internet access since leaving port Saturday afternoon 21 March. We are sailing on the L M Gould, one of 2 Antarctic research vessels. We got word of “ridiculously high” waves in the Drake so it was decided to stay in the lea of South America until things got better. We spent almost 2 days going back and forth on a 25 mile pattern. Then we shot south between t storms. It was a rough crossing just the same. I have never experienced 35' waves and don't really want to do it again. At time the boat was listing 30 to 35 degrees as it rode the waves. We spent 2 days in that shite. I never got sick but felt bad enough to take a pill.. I will attach some rough video taken from the bridge. Notice how Fitz (the food inspector) leans with the boat. The waves had calmed some at this point.
(unable to post the video but check it out on the picasa link on the right)

We broke through the bad weather on the 26th and arrived at Deception Island, our first science stop. Some of the techs are studying the fungi here. Mainly detecting new fungi and seeing how it effects the attempts to preserve the historical remains here. There are whaling stations from the late1800's and ruminants of early exploration. This is still an active volcano with visible geothermal springs. Some of the crew dug in the sand and made “hot tubs” to soak in. Many did a lot of hiking around playing tourist.

The time on the boat has been filled with movies, books and episodes of Lost and Weeds. Weed is a Showtime series that is worth the rental . The food on the boat is great and plentiful although some saw it two or three times during the high seas. I spent some time on the bridge and received the engine room tour.

Our weather bad luck continued as we got stuck in Deception Island during a day long storm. It delayed us due to the small narrow entry to the cauldron. We could have easily been swept into the rocks trying to get out. Our captians name was Joe so we decided to watch “Joe vs the Volcano” in his honor.

Finally on our way south for about 24 hours of sailing down the inland passage of the peninsula to Anvers Island and Palmer station. We had an uneventful docking and now am getting settled in.

Go to my Picasa site (see links) for a ton of photos

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Starting Line

I arrived here in Denver early Monday morning for predeployment orientation. I've been through all this before but with every new contract we go through it again. had dinner with an old friend from Pole and will spend the next day and a half getting ready to go. The flight from Denver to Punta Arenas will take about a full day. then by Friday I'll be boarding the boat for the 9 day ride through the twards my destanation, Palmer station.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I have decided to give blogging a shot. After making 2 trips to the SOUTH POLE I am heading to PALMER STATION on the Antarctic Peninsula leaving about 16 March. I have had many requests to send updates and I think this may be the way to go. Most likely will not post daily but as it strikes me.