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We’re still on the boat, but explored Ringdove Bay.

We have been anchored in Ringdove Bay for the last few days, finding shelter from the wind. We have had intermittent gusts of northwesterly wind reach up to 50 knots, but hope it will finally ease overnight.

After 8 days on the EVOHE the crew is anxious to get on the island to start digging out the landslide and repairing the damage it caused to the biodiversity hut. Because we are attempting to land in Hut Cove at the northern end of the main island, we need to wait for a southerly wind to ease the northwestern swell.

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On Tuesday we landed in Ringdove Bay near a large waterfall. After scrambling up the rocks we searched for mouse burrows to collect food stores and droppings. It would be sensible to attempt to eradicate mice when they are most food deprived and sampling their burrows is the best way we can determine what time of year that is. From these collections, we also hope to find out whether mice and parakeets compete for grass seeds.

Ringdove Bay from above the falls (Photo by Murray Watson)

Ringdove Bay from above the falls (Photo by Murray Watson)

We saw many Antipodes Island Parakeets happily climbing about the vegetation, feeding on tussocks. They lift the leaves with their claws and strip them with their beaks to leave piles of chewed grass. One was also observed (and filmed) scavenging on a decomposing penguin carcass.

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Tomorrow’s forecast looks promising and we hope to finally get onto the island. Our priority will be to unload the building materials we have on board so the builders can start repairing damage to the main biodiversity hut.

Arriving at the Antipodes Islands.

After three days at sea, we arrived at the northern end of the Antipodes Islands at 6am this morning. Everyone weathered the journey well but the rolling oceans took a few days to get used to and most retreated to their beds during the rougher parts of the journey. We all have our sea-legs now and spent the last few days in the wheelhouse watching cape pigeons, wandering albatross, giant petrels, and fairy prions duck and dive in the wind around the boat.

Overall, we have travelled 760 kilometres (410 nautical miles) to arrive in Anchorage Bay where we had hoped to unload building supplies to Hut Cove and start work on the main biodiversity hut. Unfortunately a heavy northwesterly swell has been rolling in and we are waiting for it to ease off before we attempt to land.

Waves crashing against the cliffs of the Antipodes Islands (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

Waves crashing against the cliffs of the Antipodes Islands (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

Three scientists will also try to get to Bollons Island if there is a gap in the weather long enough to get them safely ashore. Found to the north of the main island, Bollons is mouse-free and provides an example of what the main island may have been like before mice arrived with castaways in the late 1800’s. The team will put out tracking tunnels to ensure that mice have not made it to the island. They will also set up pitfall traps to assess the invertebrate population. Finally, they will survey the population numbers of endemic species such as the Antipodes Island Parakeet, Snipe, and Reischeks parakeet.

The weather has been erratic so far. After the sun went up over the main island, dark clouds began rolling in to unleash a few bouts of sleet and snow. It has been cold but calm where we are currently anchored in Alert Bay. The sun has come out again, but it is still too rough for us to land.

In front of the bow, to the east, Leeward Island looms above us. The cliffs are rough and exposed, with distinct layers of rock covered in green tussocks and ferns. The base of the cliffs are supported by dark columnar basalt that rises out of the ocean like organ pipes. The middle is sculpted tuff that varies in colour between green and red, a result of oxidation with the marine wind and crashing waves. The final layer is breccia – a matrix of broken rock that has been cemented together with volcanic lava.

Leeward Island (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

Leeward Island (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

We will attempt to land at first light tomorrow. Two people will steady the dinghy’s in waders on the beach while others take gear off and create a chain up the steep, 25 metre cliff to the only two huts on the island. The team will spread themselves and their gear between tents and what is left of the biodiversity hut where they will cook, sleep, and take shelter from the ever-changing weather.

For now, the team is waiting for the first opportunity to get ashore. We will try to update you again in a few days – hopefully from Antipodes Island.

EVOHE to depart Dunedin at 3pm today!

We’ve been sitting on the EVOHE in Dunedin Harbour overnight, waiting for some high winds to blow through before setting sail for the Antipodes Islands. This morning, the sun is shining, but the wind is still blowing and we hope to leave port at 3pm.

The EVOHE in Dunedin Harbour on 31st July (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

The EVOHE in Dunedin Harbour on 31st July (Photo by Kimberley Collins) 

The crew spent the afternoon loading more gear onto the boat. It was a difficult process as once we arrive at the Antipodes, we will have to unload a huge amount of gear in a small period of time. The skipper thinks we will have a weather window of 36 hours to get gear off. We’ll unload as much as possible and leave it on the small, rocky beach during that time, before setting up a pulley system to get heavier gear up the 30 metre cliffs.

The EVOHE is a 25 metre long passenger vessel that has been going down to the Sub-Antarctic Islands for 20 years. It can accommodate 12 passengers and 7 crew.

You can follow her journey down to the Antipodes Islands here. We’re due to set off at 3pm, so keep an eye out for movement around that time.

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