Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Camp put-in

10/16/07 - Today we saw Penguin Ranch constructed. This is our site without any of the huts. I think that is Matt in the distance (yeah, like you can tell, I know) and Mt. Erebus is in the background.

Here we are at the start of the day. Left to right, Paul, Jessica, Cory, Cass, and Matt.

First, they drill a hole in the sea ice. The ice is about 6' deep in this area.

The group clears the ice out of the drilled hole with nets. It's back breaking work. Notice the crafty PI "supervising" in the background. (There are only 4 nets, after all....)

The finished product is a hole about 4 feet across.

A Pisten Bully equipped with a blade clears out the bailed ice and a tractor drags a hut over the dive hole. Two of the huts will have a dive hole under them and then there will be four more holes drilled outside. Two of the outside holes will be for the birds in the corral, one will be for the observation tube and one will give the human divers access to the water.

After the huts are all in position, they install the observation tube ("ob tube"). Below are photos of the installation. The crane operator was very skilled and it was mesmerizing to watch the installation.

First, the lead weights are placed near the hole. It's surprising that the metal ob tube needs to be weighted down with so much weight, but the tube would never stay in the water otherwise. The glass enclosed chamber is brought over, attached to the weights and slowly lowered into the water. They slide bars into the side arms to hold the chamber in place and then attach the tube to the top of the observation chamber. You need that extension to reach the chamber hanging below the ice. I'll include photos later of what you can see when you sit in that chamber.

Notice in the last panel all the people working on the camp. If only home remodeling could be so coordinated ....

This is our new sleep hut -- basically, a tent incorporated into a boxcar. We are the guinea pigs for this new type of sleep hut. I believe that similar units are used as emergency medical operating rooms. As you can see, the construction is fairly instantaneous. Actually, adding the vestibule took three times longer to install than the hut itself.

Here we are in front of our new sleeping quarters. Left to right: Cory, Matt, Cass, Jessica, and me.

The solar panels are being installed. These panels and a wind generator (not yet installed) will supply most of our electrical needs.

Okay, I know that you have been dying to ask. Here's the biffy. It, too, has a drilled hole, but the hole only goes part of the way down the ice. I bet that a couple of you are wondering why the hole does not go all the way through. The answer is simple; you don't want a penguin or a seal to surface inside the biffy at an inopportune time!