It’s nearly midnight, Saturday night, and I’m about to start my midnight to 4am shift helping out with pumping water. The ship uses a desalinator to make its own water and we have to pump about 200,000 litres into tanks that are carried to shore on the back of a skidder and then put into the Davis Station water supply. The operation runs all through the night and takes a small army of people – drivers, people to check the various operations, people to check the people checking the operations and so on. My job, as I understand it, is to press a button that says ‘on’ and then 27 minutes later press a button that says ‘off’ and repeat this as many times as possible in the four hours. One of the team leaders says it’s the most mind numbingly boring job you can imagine, plus cold, as you stand on the trawl deck of the ship, which is open.
But guess what? I get to stay up to watch the long Antarctic sunset and twilight morph into the leadup to dawn about an hour later, and four emperor penguins just waddled up to the ship, so the person on the water shift before me had time to drive in to the station, collect her camera and drive back (fortunately I was with her on the way back) and stop and take emperor penguin photos in the blue twilight. I’m happy, I must say. If I had to do it every day for a week it might be another story, but staying up all night in Antarctica is exactly what you want to do when you get here.
I’ll ask my beautiful assistant Sarah to post some photos so you have an idea of what I’m looking at.
Love Jesse xxx