Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Ache

The Ache

To cross the Drake and head south to the "Freezer" there are good and bad forecasts, weather systems and seas, but when there's ice in the Drake and the fogs low to the sea, it chills your feet, it makes your face numb with the dank cold, your teeth chatter and your jaw aches with looming anticipation.

When the dawn light creeps through the hatch window at 3am you know you are in Antarctica and its summer, the tiredness is still there and the aches of the passage.

But the immense pleasures of being in this white wonderland, where the moods of the mountains and glacier fields can only be described as mystical fantasy lands, but you are there, and it is very real, so fast you have forgotten those aches.

The constant cold temperatures makes the skin on your hands thick, it's your bodies way of building a protective layer, but this takes time to form, and the cold makes you ache.

The stealth ice that creeps around the bays and harbours never stops or eases its search for a calm spot as its life as a piece of ice is limited, the long sleepless nights where your head never rests deeply on the pillow the impact of ice always makes you ache.

The smiles on every person face as they watch in wonder at the great beasts of the water lift their heads to the sky to view us tiny creatures on a boat makes you marvel, enough to make your heart ache.

At the end of the day, as the light dims but never ends in summer Antarctica, you hope and silently prey that the location for the night will be safe and protected, the sinews in your neck always ache.

To see the way that nature's animals survive in the wild, the strong will survive, the slow, sick or weak are on borrowed time, the sight of death tears at your heart, and it aches.

But when the time is done, and the weather gods present a window, there can be no hesitation, the drug of Antarctica when the sun shines is powerful, to leave there are aches, to wait and play will inevitably make you ache far more.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The morning after

I often find that I can't write, or maybe I shouldn't write unless it feels write.

The morning after has taken some time to come around after doing the hydrographic project here in Antarctica. This project took a lot, not just of myself but also of everyone that was involved, on the boat and on shore.

It's hard to explain "Why" it took a lot, but it did, and for everyone that was involved I do thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We did what many people said we couldn't do, and that's a nice feeling to have when you do actually achieve that goal, but for me it's not the reason why I pushed on with dogged determination, there were very real and important reasons in my mind as to why this had to be done.

Even now I still sit and think about where this could potentially lead, not just for myself but those who are looking at the results and the obvious potential for this style and type of hydrographic work in any remote and unsurveyed area of the world, and there is a lot of areas out there.

Our little planet has become small, but yet there is so much that is still left to discover and know about it. We are told of the horror projections for population expansion over the next 50 years, we are reminded of the damage that the past and current population is doing to our nest, but yet in the name of science and intelligent management of this spinning globe there is so much that we don't know about it, and most importantly how to manage it best for all future generations.

I only see the small example of what we were able to do down here in Antarctica last month as a tiny reminder that dreams and desires can be made into reality. Let's not ever think that something new can't be done. As we have developed sophisticated skills and technologies, we have also developed
debilitating bureaucratic processes and protective plans that can actually make us less efficient, productive and innovative.

For me, I despise the "C" word, because the word "can't" means that someone has already passed the thinking stages of maybe, could be, possibly and yes, and has taken an easier route by putting a potentially good idea into the too hard basket.