From the island…14 June

Hut site

Hut site – Antipodes Island

Stephen Horn – Project Manager, updates us from the island

14/06/2016

We have had a lull in activities over the past few days as preparations for baiting have got to a stage of readiness but the weather has held us back from starting bait application.

The Antipodes are currently squeezed between some high pressure to the north and low pressure to the south giving us some full on westerly flow for the most part with a few intermittent rapid changes to the southwest. After completing site setup and fare-welling the build team we were ready to start baiting last Thursday but the wind was far too strong. The following day we were up again at 6am, this time the wind was low but the mist was down to sea level and visibility was less than 30m horizontal and it stayed that way most of the day. The decision was easily made so we called off potential operations by 11 am with a deteriorating forecast ahead. Into the weekend the weather was a little better than expected but variable, again with mist around Perpendicular Head at times. We made the decision not to push for small gaps at this stage as we were likely to have to repeat much of what we could have baited done due to the poor outlook over the coming week. Seas were running high yesterday – forecast at 8 – 12 m and the high winds caused some disrupted sleep last night.

Hut site June 2016

Hut site June 2016

Kia time

Kai time

The gusts seem to creep up on the tents – one minute it is calm and relaxed then it hits with a sudden crash and it feels like a couple of people have simultaneously picked up the tent, shaken it as hard as they can for a few moments. Ear plugs are of marginal value but it is amazing how much a thin layer of nylon can give you a sense of separation and protection from the elements outside. It certainly hasn’t been cold since we have been here. The hut site is generally quite sheltered and toasty inside with the diesel oven/stove its hub. It is certainly more exposed and colder at the bait loading site up on the plateau but our temperatures have been averaging between 3 to 8 degrees with additional wind chill.

The lack of rainfall continues. We collected about 400 litres over the weekend, enough for about 2 days so we are being careful with water use. We started with approximately 6000 litres on the island and flew on another 6000 litres when we arrived – to get us through until a decent rain. Pete is doing a great job managing camp and keeps tabs on water and fuel usage.

Mark Le Lievre using the mangle

Mark Le Lievre using the mangle

Calling home!

Calling home!

With a bit more spare time we finally got the washing facilities set up and many in the team have been getting around to cleaning some clothes. Clothes are washed by hand in a basin with as little water as possible – (which seems to come out a fairly dark colour of mud) and an old mangle for ringing clothes was secured to one of our gear pods nearby. We also have some more grand amenities now including small electric clothes drier we can run on a separate generator when needed so the team can get their clothes dry quickly and we don’t end up having 30 pairs or undies hanging around the stove inside the hut. The other big advancement over the weekend was the installation of a large satellite dish secured to the water tank stand to give us access to the internet. We were very unsure whether it would be possible before we got here with an estimated 1° of tolerance to play with in locating the satellite. Ann De Schutter, our GIS technician had a day’s training prior to venturing here with the team and has now successfully installed NZ’s southerly most broadband internet! It seems a bit surreal and backyard style that you can whack a dish on the side of a hut and bingo it works. It is interesting how it has quickly changed our situation down here with a nice ability for the team to have contact with their loved ones and for my boss to pass more work queries my way! It is also nice to be able to send some images back of our setup and experience down here. Thankfully the evening cards and social interactions haven’t yet been overrun by smartphones and facebook!

There was also a sky dish brought down by one of the pilots and a certain desperate motivation to get it functional on Saturday ahead of the Allblack’s test match against Wales. The sky project so far hasn’t succeeded much to the exasperation of pilot Darron McCully but Finlay Cox and Ann (the youngest and most technically proficient members of the team) managed to stream access to one of the team’s sky account through the internet and we saw parts of the test, delivered in 10 minute bursts before we would need to reboot so we saw about 35 minutes in total. The radio, however was generally keeping us up to date simultaneously but the commentary running about 30 seconds ahead of the imagery – it made for interesting viewing but a bit of a highlight to have some access to these events when so far away.

Jason Zito with hut parakeet

Jason Zito with hut parakeet