Well, the R/V Laurence M. Gould arrived at Palmer Station on 19 September, and it was a beautiful sight to see as it came around Bonaparte Point. However, while we were tying the ship up to the mooring pins during some heavy sea surge, not one, not two, but three mooring pins snapped off. As I was assisting with installing the gang plank, the stern pin (the pins are 4" diameter steel embedded into solid rock. It takes ALOT of force to snap one off) snapped off, and we quickly disconnected the gangplank and the bow lines and the LMG went back out to sea while we scrambled to rig up a spare stern pin. The LMG came back to the pier, and we repeated the docking procedure...then again, while we were installing the gang plank, the two bow pins snapped off simultaneously, and we again quickly disconnected the pier lines and the stern lines and the boat set out to sea again. This whole series of events was unheard of, and the bottom line was that the boat was unable to dock at the pier because we couldn't tie it up with only the pier pins.
Plan B was set into motion.
All of the cargo was to be sling loaded onto Zodiac boats and carried to station, then sling loaded onto station with a Skytrack. SO, I went to work with our Boating Coordinator, Ryan, and two Marine Technicians from the LMG. We spent two days loading and unloading vital cargo. Call it Dave's idea of a perfect end of winter day: running around in a Zodiac playing Fed Ex Antarctica. Serious "Only in Antarctica" style activities. Below are some pictures which tell a little bit about my experiences over the past 4 days, which ended tonight with a birthday party for our station doctor, Shawn, and me in the lap of an old friend, Chris Hush, who started in the Antarctic Program the same year I did: 1992. Time flies by. For the last four days I've been performing turnover with my summer counterpart, Phil Spindler, and hauling cargo around by Zodiac. I'm truly exhausted, as many a winter-over can appreciate, but exhilarated at the same time, and I still have to pack up all of my belongings and get ready to get on the boat tomorrow. We leave for Puenta Arenas on 24 September, if all goes according to plan. But the plan is subject to change, as the past four days attest. This may well be my last blog entry from Palmer Station, but I'll update this whole story later when I get back to the States. I hope to see all of my family and friends soon, but I'll miss this place and the new friends that I've made here.