BELARE 2006/2007 - Another lesson from Antarctica

The ship is in the new position off Breid Bay. Brian and the Basler are on stand-by waiting to see whether he should go to collect Philippe Herman and Dieter Callaert from the Coast camp in order to ferry them to Utsteinen and Troll (with the group of Japanese visitors from Syowa, and S17 airbase).

It looks increasingly like this scenario will not work out, as the expedition members remain on the ship, and cannot be brought ashore.

Brian calls to tell us that the Orion flight has been delayed for a few days due to technical problems. This means that we can buy a little time to evacuate the people on the ship. If this is not possible, then they will continue on to 5° East to complete unloading, and fly back from there.

Another lesson from Antarctica: never take anything as a given. Our fates lie in the hands of the Gods.

In the evening, the situation evolves again and the ship can pull in to unload at another site where Alain is waiting, having gone without sleep for almost two and a half days. The weather has been very difficult at the coast, with strong winds smashing up all the promising ice.

Whereas, at Utsteinen we have brilliant sunshine and have been building an ice store for our rapidly dwindling food supplies. We are counting on the Basler flight from the Coast arriving on the 16th, with Philippe, the surveyor, and of course most importantly, food. Vincent builds a new table for the mess tent, to accomodate a larger crew. It is beginning to look almost civilised, and we can't help but admire our workmanship in snow architecture, annexed to the mess tent. Everyone admires it so, that we begin to discuss extensions. The real work will only start when the containers and equipment arrive from the coast - if they arrive. It ain't over until it's over, as Johan keeps saying, to comfort us. Every call raises our spirits promising miraculous outcomes or dashes them with bleak prognostics, so that we have become blasé. Vincent has taken to adding "Insh'allah" to every wish he expresses.

It is so warm here that Damien our resident scientist, after a busy day counting snow petrels and identifying new species of lichen, is the first to wash his hair. The veterans amongst us sneer in quiet superiority at this sign of weakness. The smelliest and most putrid expeditionary has the most credibility here.