The Spirit of Mawson - Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 - 2014

Australasian Antarctic Expedition

Day 1 – Heading off from Bluff

Posted by Colin - 8 December 2013

Southern-Ocean

The second leg of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013 - 2014 left the picturesque port of Bluff with its full complement of adventurers, scientists, students and staff on the 8th of December 2013. We were quickly made aware of ship life by a safety drill as all filled into our assigned lifeboats like fluoro orange sardines in a can.

Just like a well-oiled machine, the scientists and students started their observations and the readying of survey equipment like surface probes. Dr. Wilson was immediately into her stride, teaching me about bird identification and I participated in one of her many bird count survey. Later, Dr Seville and his fellow colleagues showed me how to prep the surface probe…which was difficult in moderate and confused seas. Being at the stern of the ship, this led to me developing seasickness which most of us had that night. Not even the mighty Paihia bombs (seasickness meds) kept the queasiness away. Dinner was thus a delicate affair for most of us. These confused seas were due to a combination of the remains of a weather front and also the volume of water from the Solander trench (~3000m deep) meeting the Campbell platform (~200m).

Today and for the rest of the journey, I am reminded of a quote in Mawson’s diary “Viribis unitis –With united strength”. This was particularly poignant as another team took over the deployment of the probe whilst me and Dr. Seville were laid low in our cabin (we did get the pleasure of seeing the probe go overboard though). I am very honoured to be in such marvellous company.

Colin Tan

This blog is dedicated to the Mrs Isdale and her students at Waitakaruru School.