Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good for morale

Sometimes you get a lucky break with a boondoggle while you're down on the ice. As my luck would have it, I'm here in McMurdo during a rare offering of "morale cruises" on the US Coast Guard ice breaker, the Polar Sea.

Now that the ship finished its work of cutting a roughly 20 mile long channel through the sea ice for the resupply vessel and fuel tanker to use next week, it can offer a day of these little pleasure cruises to folks down here as a little perk to boost morale after a busy season, or as in my case, to pump you up for the winter.

There were 2 trips, each taking 200 people and lasting for about 3 hours. We sailed back out the channel and as McMurdo grew smaller and smaller from the stern, we began to see more and more wildlife.

McMurdo Station from the water with Ob Hill on the right.

Seals hauled out on the ice.

There are two little Adelie penguins in the center of this photo. Really.

Minke whales were often nearby, including one that was so close I could swear we ran over it with the boat.

View of floating chunks of sea ice through a port hole in the bow.

Edge of the channel through the sea ice.

Looking for whales from the bow.

The Royal Society range.

Since it turns out that I'll be stuck in McMurdo for the rest of this week due to a lack of bed space at Pole, hopefully I'll have more opportunities to explore. By the way, does anyone know of a doctor who would like to work with me at South Pole? We seem to be short one...


At 12:10 PM, Blogger brien said...

lucky duck ... and I'm asking around for a doc for ya

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Melinda said...

How about a bean-counting auditor bored with telling VA employees that they are not in compliance? I thought only feds got the boondoggles (like the time my supervisor "got stuck" doing a hotline case in Honolulu...). Have a good week out there, Heidi!

Love, Mel

At 1:21 AM, Anonymous Tara said...

What is a "boondoggle'?

At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. where else have I heard about a three hour tour.

At 12:16 PM, Anonymous dave said...

Gorgeous pictures! Really amazing!

Not a doc, but do you need an electrical/electronic engineer by any chance?

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Heidi said...

At this point, we're getting so desperate to hire a doc, we probably would go ahead and take a bean counter or engineer, as long as you have a pulse and a passport too.

A boondoggle is a little perk, usually a trip somewhere, that people often get as a reward for a job well done. In my case, I didn't do a damn thing, just got lucky.

And having grown up watching Gilligan's Island, I was sure to pack a full assortment of evening gowns for the boat ride. Just in case.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous dave said...

Oh, I'd love to learn some medical practices, though I'm sure your patients may not want to be the early guinea pigs!

I'd love to be involved in exploring more extensive use of providing your site with power from solar/wind to augment and someday replace the diesels.

At 1:19 AM, Blogger Kiwisteven said...

Hi Heidi,

I guess you must have really enjoyed your morale cruise. In fact I think you were enjoying it so much you didn't listen very well to the Coast gaurd people when they told you about their Icebreaker. I think you were actually on the "Polar Sea" and not her sister ship the "Polar Star' which should be tucked up snugly in harbour in Seattle. Never mind they do look the same and somebody painted them both the same colour.

At 3:22 AM, Blogger Heidi said... mean we weren't in Seattle? Thanks for the correction Kiwi Steven - duly noted and rectified. And you're right, I never listen.


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