Scott Base Winter Updates

20200714 Turbine Panorama Custom
21 July 2020

Scott Base Update #9

After what felt like weeks of storms, the skies have now cleared for incredible Aurora Australis performances. I was lucky enough to capture one of these light shows while I was at the windfarm on Tuesday morning. It’s a moment I’ll never forget!

Base life has been ticking over with important fire safety work, as well as servicing of the waste water treatment plant. As you might imagine, repairing, replacing and cleaning components of a waste water treatment plant is not a pretty task, but someone’s gotta do it!

As time rolls on, the team is starting to look towards the coming month, and the return of the sun. Light during the day is creeping along the horizon and official civil twilight is not too far away. The coming of the sun also means the first flight of the new season, bringing bit of fresh fruit and veg for us!

Until next time,

Luke Keehan, Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #8

Last week started with the promise of bad weather, and certainly did not disappoint. Monday came with warming temperatures, warm enough that a few of our team managed to get up to the wind turbines for routine checks of the systems. Even in winter the view from the top of the turbines is epic. The good weather didn’t last long though, by Monday night we had entered Condition 1 weather, with visibility reduced to a few metres. Tuesday and Wednesday saw much of the same and while we were prevented from outside activities, there was still work to be done inside that kept us occupied.

Thursday came around and the weather broke and became calmer and clear. Fire exits and doorways required some strenuous shovelling to remove the built-up snow. I’m sure anyone that has spent a decent amount of time in Antarctica can relate to snow shovelling!

As I sit here and write this I am listening to the wind build again, no doubt I will have more storm stories to add to the list by the end of the winter.

Luke Keehan, Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #7

Last week was a very busy one, with mid-winter celebrations taking the lead on base. Everyone pulled together to make it a weekend to remember. Keith (Water Engineer) took it upon himself to iron all our outfits, so we all looked sharp for the evening!

Lance spearheaded the charge on the food front, with help from the team to put on an amazing spread. Kev (Mechanic) showed the steadiness of his hand doing the delicate final touches on the canapés. Charlotte (Domestic/ Medic) and Aimee (Field Support) spun some magic and decorated the mess and bar area. A big thanks to Stephen Allinger for coming over from McMurdo to set up and take photos for the evening.

We have seen our coldest temperature yet, -66°C with wind chill, and a good storm on Sunday had the base whistling and vibrating. With Mid-winter past and the seasonal pendulum starting to swing back towards summer the feel on base is still energetic and upbeat. I feel very lucky to be able to share this with the folks here on base and over at McMurdo, a really great bunch of people.

Here’s to the home stretch.

Luke Keehan, Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #6

We’ve seen some of the coldest ambient temperatures and highest winds over the last few weeks. We even hit a new ambient low of -39°C on Monday although it seemed like it was just at Scott base as other parts of the Island, Arrival heights and the wind turbines for example, were at -24°C and -27°C respectively.

I hosted a fish and chip evening at the best fish and chip shop for 3400km. Then team put their order in at lunch time and I cooked everything from battered fish and wedges to deep fried pineapple rings and chicken nuggets, and wrapped them in newspaper to give them that authentic feel. It not only reminded the crew of the sweet taste of home, but also gave Chef Lance a well-deserved night off.

The annual Scott Base Mini Golf challenge happened over the last weekend too, where we create a mini golf course in the linkways of the base and invite a few friends over from McMurdo for a bit of ‘social’ fun.

Midwinter celebrations begin tonight, with Sunday 21st of June marking the official halfway point of our Antarctic winter! It’s a tradition dated right back to the early explorers, and we’re looking forward to celebrating together as they did, many many years ago.

Luke Keehan, Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #5

We had a wild few days of weather last week, with wind gusts hitting 84 knots/ 155 km per hour on Sunday! Thankfully, it didn’t stop us from finishing one of our major winter projects, upgrading fire safety in the HFC (Hillary Field Centre). A massive shout out to Al who led this winter work.

With this mahi finished, we were able to celebrate Queens Birthday weekend with our friends from McMurdo. To top it all off, we witnessed some epic Aurora Australis from the Square Frame on Saturday afternoon. Good week all round!

Luke Keehan, Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #4

Darkness is slowly, but surely taking over. We only get a bit of evening twilight now, and it doesn’t last very long! I expect our sleeping patterns will take a bit of a hit when darkness sets in full-time, but we’re prepared for that, and all doing pretty well at the moment!

An absolute highlight of last week was Lance’s fried chicken burgers- they were exceptional. While we were enjoying them, we got talking about how great the weather’s been lately, getting to a tropical -24°C that day … we had to stop for a second and think about how that might sound to everyone at home! Speaking of home, we recently acquired the capability to join Zoom meetings, and it’s been awesome catching up with family and friends. I was able to call into my niece and newphew’s 6th birthday, which was pretty special.

Recognising that NZ is in Level 2, and businesses are starting back up again, we wanted to give a shout out to a local business that is very dear to our heart at Scott Base. Earth Sea Sky is a small Christchurch business that supplies us with a kit full of under layers and ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear that keeps us cosy in the Antarctic summer and winter. My personal favourite is the Primaloft jacket, it’s so lightweight and warm!

Until next time,

Luke- Winter Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica.

Scott Base Update #3

One of the more memorable moments from the last few weeks was the ANZAC service we hosted on the ice. A service like no other, it was an honour to gather together and recognise the men and women who sacrificed everything for a better future for New Zealand. We will remember them.

And with the last sunset done and dusted, the reality of winter has well and truly hit. Twilight is only just lighting our daytime now, and the clear night sky makes for incredible star gazing and aurora spotting in the evenings.

We are getting through our winter work too, which includes stuff like repairing tents and field gear for next season and giving the whole base a deep clean - just like many people are doing with their homes at the moment!

Lastly, I want to give a big shout-out to Al, our Base Support who celebrated his birthday last week. Great excuse to kick back and eat cake 😊

Stay at home and stay safe,

Luke- Winter Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #2

What a week! Like many people in NZ, we're getting stuck into home maintenance. The crew just finished carpeting two major parts of the base, and have now moved onto replacing lights in all our bedrooms. When the work day is over, many of us get out to see the incredible Aurora Australis light up the sky. I snapped this photo in the early hours of yesterday morning. Maybe some of you could pass lock downtime by counting the number of stars in the sky?

We have a big week ahead of us too. Our last sunset is this Friday, so we’re planning to gather as a team to watch the sun go down one last time. We wont see it again until August! We will be commemorating ANZAC day this Saturday, with a service infront of the flag pole. The ANZAC day service is always special on the ice and this year, we hope to have a friend over from McMurdo who will play the Last Post and Rouse on trumpet for us too.

Until next week,
Luke – Winter Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica

Scott Base Update #1

Although temperatures plummeted to a chilly -52°c last week, Scott Base remained a hive of activity. While some of us re-carpeted parts of the base, others worked on our water intake system and participated in a joint Search and Rescue training scenario with our mates over at McMurdo.

Just like our whānau and friends back home, we’ve had a hankering for take-out, so our chef Lance made KFC style chicken with chips and gravy to keep the cravings at bay. Highlights of last week included the great Ross Island Easter Egg Hunt and temporarily converting one of the land cruisers into the first “official” Scott Base taxi- check out the photo!

We hope you all had a great Easter break at home and we look forward to touching base soon!

Luke- Winter Electrician
Scott Base, Antarctica