Still no ship

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Summer 07
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Winter 07


The ship remains where it was the last time I made a post. We've heard a little news, and seen a few photos, and even flown a plane over to their position to see if we could work out a way through for them. That little jaunt told us exactly what the satelite images and ice plots suggested: that there's no way through. The ship's crew and passengers had an interesting Christmas, and we enjoyed a day off that we weren't expecting.

Christmas was, well, Christmas. Stashes of wine appeared from the woodwork, those that had presents opened them, those that didn't made jokes about Santa's big red sleigh being stuck in the ice. Outside it was white, but not snowing, blue skies and a gentle wind making perfect conditions for a long cross country ski then the maiden flight of the larger of my two kites -- I'd been keeping it away until it was warm enough, and the little one is so much fun I never quite felt the urge to upgrade. Slightly exhausted I sat down for a relaxed meal with the rest of the base, enjoyed some fresh carrots, and nattered about this and that. Not at all like being back in England. The day itself, as with every day here, was fairly normal, but then every day here is a tiny bit special.

Of course I miss dashing around the country to visit my family and the warm meetings with old friends to relax and regenerate while another year rolls around. At Halley that's replaced by a comfortable feeling of friendship, the knowledge that we've struggled together through the same problems, that we've survived our stint at life where no man should be living and that soon some of us will plunge back into that small world as others prepare to rejoin the fast life of the wide world back home.

On boxing day we were back at work. I spent the day laying out the site for a radar we'll be installing once the bits arrive. Carefully surveying the positions of each antenna and ensuring that they were orientated with true north using a sighting compass, GPS time and some shadows. The site is now prickly with cunningly marked poles, and festively fenced about with a wall of red flags. A patch of snow on the perimeter is now a patch of snow pregnant with purpose.

Our sometimes accurate weather forecast predicts that we're in for a spot of windy weather over the next day or two, winds that might just be strong enough to push the ice field away from the coast and allow the Shackleton to finally arrive. While we've still plenty to amuse ourselves with down here, the delay is slowly turning from a welcome haitus into a troublesome wait. Each extra day will force more work into the summer season, making a mad panic into a hectic nightmare. Eventually the ship will have to return to the Falklands to fuel up, and the rumour mill is generating millions of bonkers schemes to save the day, but for now there's enough time for a little miracle to part the frozen seas, and nothing we can do but wait.

Situation today - the Shackleton wants to get to N9
Situation today - the Shackleton wants to get to N9

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