Dec 09: Getting Underway!

Post by VIMS graduate student Mar Arroyo.

Date: 09 Dec 2016
Time: 23:03
Location: 47° 10’ S, 144° 22’ E

The Aurora Australis at the port in Hobart, Tasmania.

Hello there! I’ve officially set sail on the RV Aurora Australis, a bright orange ice breaker. This ship is massive, at 311 feet in length and a capacity to hold 116 passengers. There are about 50 expedition participants, and many more crew members, aboard on this voyage.

Every week we have drills to prepare us for fires or other emergencies where we have to put on our survival suits and lifejackets.

I landed in Hobart, Tasmania about a week ago. Before coming on board, I had to attend days of training sessions ranging from hypothermia awareness to workplace safety to make sure we’re all prepared for the cold, harsh conditions in Antarctica. I once read somewhere that Antarctica is the only place on Earth similar to Space. I had to get ‘kitted’ by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) to get the proper clothing and was given three duffel bags filled with thermals, coats, boots, gloves, hats, and more. Most of the outerwear is bright and fluorescent shades of yellow and orange. It was close to about 50 lbs of gear.

Waves crashing on the trawl deck at the ship's stern.
Waves crashing on the trawl deck at the ship’s stern.

For now, we are steaming toward Casey Station, a base in East Antarctica maintained by the AAD. We’ll be completing a resupply mission there, delivering 1.1 million liters of fuel and food for the winter season. The seas are a bit rough for now. The medical officers on board advised that we all have sea sickness pills on hand, even if we feel like we don’t need it. They were right.