Sunday, May 21, 2017

Happy polar scientist day to all my colleagues!

It has been two and a half months since we came back to Cape Town and completed the circum-antarctic navigation. It was an interesting transformation...
On my flight back home I was really confused to see unfamiliar faces surrounding me at airports - I was used to only see people that I know. Coming back to work was quite an adventure as well. I realized I forgot all my passwords, I had to reset my e-mail passwords, server login passwords, etc, etc. If "big brother" is really watching me, he should have gotten suspicious.

After a few weeks at work, trying to remember where I left off with my other projects, while sorting out the complicated cargo situation for ACE, I realized I am super exhausted.

I have now visited a few of my favorite cities around the US and gave a few slideshow/lecture presentations in New York, San Francisco and Boston. Most of them went ok, but they were really different, i talked about different content and emphasized very different things. The experience was always gratifying, so I might do it again. But right now I need a break - did I say that I am exhausted?

One thing I did realize - I forgot to include my best picture in my slideshow (or I was trying to make sure they are more serious than they actually were). Anyhow, here it is. Enjoy:

How we spent time in Antarctica

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ну вот и все, дружок...

Этот пост я пишу уже в аэропорту - у меня пересадка по дороге домой. В аэропорту все очень странное: куча людей куда-то спешат, все суетятся и толкаются. И все незнакомые!!!! А знакомого - никого. Ведь совсем недавно, меня окружали только знакомые, свои, родные уже лица:

 Фотография всех участников третьей "ноги" нашей экспедиции (с) Шариф Миршак.

После возвращения из экспедиции какое-то время находишься в таком странном "междумирье", когда того, рейсового мира уже больше нет, а в "реальный" ты вроде как вернулся немного другим человеком. Потом все сглаживается и забывается. Постепенно вписываешься в свой привычный мир, постепенно забываешь тот волшебный другой, как будто и не было его вовсе, так приснилось что-то. 

Кто-то из новых экспедиционных знакомых переходит в разряд друзей, к ним потом ездишь в гости и вспоминаешь "минувшие дни". Кого-то потом изредка встречаешь на конференциях, тогда внезапно накатывают воспоминания и становится тепло-тепло где-то глубоко внутри. А кого-то вообще уже никогда не увидишь. Это с одной стороны обидно, а с другой стороны мы ведь там случайным образом все собрались. Главное чтобы те, из первой категории, остались близкими - они самые главные и их будет жалко растерять. 

У меня, кстати, тут родилась идея поехать в Париж на свой следующий день рождения. Так как экспедиция у нас была в большой степени европейская, то многие поддержали это мое начинание :). Одна девочка лучше всего сказала на прощание - ты как хочешь, а я еду в Париж в сентябре праздновать твой день рождения %). Чувствуется пора, наконец, выучить французский.

На самом деле я хотела что-то более толковое написать, но как-то не получается. Скоро уже объявляют посадку на мой самолет. Не знаю получится ли еще писать что-то в этом блоге - его главная ценность была в том, что я записывала все в реальном времени. Воспоминания о "минувших днях" придают другой оттенок. Но может я зря так думаю, пока ничего не обещаю. Главное фотку выложила :) Здравствуй, привычный мир! Такой чужой и незнакомый, хотя вроде бы всю жизнь в нем прожила...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The end is near!

March 18

We almost made it! Actually we are almost in Cape Town already, but we only ordered a pilot for 4am tomorrow, so we are hanging out in the summer tropical sea. If I haven't been so busy wrapping up, writing reports, packing and such - I would have even enjoyed it.

I feel like my head is spinning by the amount of logistical information I am trying to retain. I hope it won't explode. Our project alone has a complicated shipment to four different countries. I have been re-shuffling boxes for quite a few days and the end is nowhere near. But it is. The end of our cruise is tomorrow and I need to make sure I pack everything. I have been recruiting less busy people for help, but there's only that much one can outsource. Anyway, I believe I will get over that. And maybe even have time to pack my own bags... One can dream, right?

I should probably wrap up with post not to scare off too many readers. So here's a picture for you - a map of our ship's journey from Bremerhaven to Cape Town and then around Antarctica. We almost made it!!!! Yahoo!

I joined in Cape Town and I have been on the ship for god knows how long - a third of a calendar ;)

I will hopefully have reception soon. I'm planning to revive my South African sim-card, get data and be reachable. This is going to be rather weird. We had fairly reliable reception in the past few days and I even managed to login to Facebook and see some of the comments. Thank you for them! Although I have to admit - it is weird to be connected. Let's see I go...

Till soon,

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ACE aristocracy (paraphrasing my grandfather)

March 14

As I mentioned in my previous post I want to talk about our wonderful team of helicopter pilots and engineers:
Sam (helicopter engineer), Sergio (pilot), Bob (pilot), Ian (engineer)
I met all four of them at the beginning of leg one. We became fast friends, even though it took them a while to remember my name (they all got the “sha” part, but Misha, Masha, Sasha and Dasha all sound too much alike to an English and a Portuguese ear). Don’t worry, I teased them endlessly, just as friends do.

It all started with the wooden hangers – packing in even worse rush than us (hard to imagine!), they forgot to get many essentials. So Bob approached me during the first week and asked me to talk to the ship’s crew for possible supplies. In particular they needed the wooden hangers to dry out the orange safety suites all pilots and passengers are required to wear during the rides. As many people use and re-use those – they need to be properly stored and timely dried out. After the first island I also found out the helicopters have no GPS system built in, so I loaned them my project’s handheld GPS.

Since then countless favors running in both directions occurred. Ian, the mechanic, was my amazing SOCCOM float launcher – he was the best helper I could dream about for the job. He is tall, fit, understands everything with minimal directions and even improves the technique as we go. Ian was also the one who observed us launching radiosondes in the rain and came up with a “cushioned seat”. We reused some old packing material - a piece of cardboard with foam – a much more comfortable (and dry!) way to sit on the floor while inflating a radiosonde balloon with helium.

Ian and Sam also came to the rescue when we had electrical issues with our instruments in the lab, starting from minor microcat connectors and ending with the CTD loosing the signal due to a short-circuiting in the cable. I can’t even express how grateful I am to all the things they fixed.

I also enjoy their company a lot, so I often join them for meals. They always eat at the same four person table, but I pull up a chair and become their fifth wheel. There's not enough designated seats in the mess to fit all the people at once, so there are always loose chairs to use and join in. I originally experimented with many different tables, but by the end of leg one more often than not I would gravitate toward to helicopter table. Things shifted around during legs two and three, but I keep enjoying their company and once again more often than not I join them for meals or at least after meal conversations.

Sergio told me last night that they have planned to take me (and some other poor «stuck» people on a flight for a long time. And then finally they compiled a list of people who have been on all three legs and never got into a helicopter and decided to make it happen the last day. They were really determined, but they did not tell us in advance since we already have been disappointed more than once. What a great surprise that was!

One more thing I wanted to mention before I wrap this post and give word to my grandfather and his take on pilots, engineers and such in Antarctica. My four friends were featured in my blog at the very beginning, before I even knew we will be friends. Remember this picture?
Bob, Ian, Sergio, Sam
Вот запись в середине длинной тирады про приключения Виталия Борисовича с полетом на станцию Восток в конце февраля - в самом конце сезона - и возможной непредвиденной зимовки на Востоке, так как на один самолет обратно в Мирный его «не взяли», а следующего очень долго не было из-за погоды. И перспектива зимовать на холодном Востоке была весьма реальной, так как зимой туда самолеты не летают. Все сложилось удачно и 4 марта 1960 года дедушка-таки вернулся в Мирный, я про это уже публиковала отрывки из дневников (о том как в Мирном тепло целых -20 по Цельсию, см мой пост от 7 марта).

Интересные отношения складываются с авиацией - особым звеном экспедиции, ее крыльями, ее аристократией, выразителем ее денежных интересов. Люди там (как и везде, впрочем) в основном хорошие - работяги, умельцы, веселые и общительные. Конечно (опять же, как и везде) есть и исключения.

Мы как будто бы даже дружим, но во всяком случае хорошо относимся друг к другу со многими пилотами, механиками, штурманами. Весь авиаотряд шел на "Оби", поэтому знаем мы этих ребят давно и представляем себе каждого из них и по быту, и по "лету".
Начальник отряда - классный пилот, еще молодой, но опытный полярный летчик Александр Николаевич Пименов - человек очень неглупый, осторожный и дипломатичный. Он с заботой относился к людям, своим подчиненным, и они отвечают ему большим уважением, любовью даже. Но гораздо хитрей и увертливей Александра Николаевича его помощник - начальник штаба - флагштурман Иван Демьяновмч Кухарь, ведущий все дела бумажные и расчетные. А ведь главные у летунов - часы и посадки, то есть деньги, во имя которых все и делается. Здесь Кухарь неподражаем. Мы с ним соседи (он живет у Богородского кладбища) и друзья. Но на Востоке я просидел две недели именно из-за него: Кухарь не взял меня на свою машину - ИЛ-12, вот я и остался на бобах…

Отличный мужик - инженер авиаотряда Иван Никитич Мокроусов. На Оби мы шли с ним в одной каюте до Лазарева и поначалу даже скандалили по мелочам. Впоследствии выяснилось, что Никитич - золотой человек. Трудяга, каких мало. Он из бортмехаников, давно работает в авиации (еще в войну вместе с Пименовым летал через Ближний и Средний Восток, перегоняли к нам американские самолеты), не так давно, будучи уже вполне взрослым дядей заочно окончил МАИ и стал авиаинженером. Достойно уважения!
Вместе со своими неуемными людьми Никитич целые дни возится у самолетов. Хозяйство у него сложное, а людей немного. Два прибориста - Володя Ганушкин и Боря Данилов, тракторист Володя Симонов, авиатехники Паша Данилов и Вася Камардин. Есть у нас еще комендант аэродрома Андрей Петрович Медведев. Вообще-то про каждого из их этих людей можно было бы многое рассказать, боюсь, что только язык у меня суховат и времени нужно очень много. Замечательные ребята! Но о Петровиче всё же несколько слов сказать не лишне. Медведев - мастер парашютного спорта СССР, на его счету 1396 прыжков в самых разных условиях и самого разного свойства. Петрович теперь уже не первой молодости, он отлично умеет личное делать: стрижет и бреет, прекрасный фотограф, играет на балалайке, показывает мимические сцены, может сапожничать, водит трактор и автолюбитель. Таким и надо быть!

Вот такая у нас авиация! А самолеты? Один Ил-14 - на колесах. Два Ил-12 - на лыжах и штуки три Ми-4. Oдин Ан-6 загробили, но собираются отремонтировать весной в Лазареве. Есть и еще техника (целые кладбища), из этих уже летать не будут. И так до хрена!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Born to fly

March 13

Today I got to fly in one of our helicopters! It was amazing and I am really grateful to the whole team of our two pilots and two helicopter engineers for making it happen. They always wanted to take more people, but there was never enough time in the good weather window for the “fun” flights for the scientists. There are quite a lot of scientists on board; some need to use helicopters to get to their scientific destination (like ice coring people can only reach their coring sights via helicopters). There are also quite a few of VIPs – Frederik Paulsen and his guests always want to fly everywhere. And then there are scientists like me, whose work does not involve going to the top of a glacier or going to any island at all really. So I never got to fly…

There were always “attempts” – in case the weather is good and there is a lot of “extra time” we will be spending at an island, it was always rumored that we, the ship-locked people of Tryoshnikov will get to fly. But this never happened. I stopped being hopeful about it in the middle of leg one; I never even mentioned it on my blog (I think).

Today we were at the last island – last time our helicopters were flying during ACE. I was working upstairs in “my meteorological” office, when one of the pilots came in and said that he heard I would fly today. At first I thought it was a cruel joke on his part – I’ve heard this so many times already! But I decided to check with the hangar and to my surprise one of the helicopter engineers greeted me with a special orange helicopter suite.

I was scheduled to go for a test flight with the helicopter engineer – they had to do safety checks with the machine before putting it to rest till Cape Town. My flight almost did not happen as a snow shower started out of nowhere (ok, ok there were clouds all over, but not low clouds…).  I was thinking that fitting into one of the heli-suites would be as close as I would get to flying on ACE helicopter.
But the snow cleared up and off we went. There were two helicopters getting tested, so our wonderful heli-team took four passengers from the crowd of scientists who’s been on the ship the longest and never went anywhere.

What can I say? It was absolutely amazing!!!

My favorite part was flying over an iceberg really-really low and watching the waves wash off the base of the ice.
It was also really fun to play with another helicopter, go hi and low and left and right
We flew over the water, over icebergs and over glaciers on Bouvet island
One thing I did not realize before – helicopter’s nose is pointing down for the most part – so it’s amazingly nice views of everything happening below
What an amazing gift from our helicopter team! Thank you so much!
I actually meant to write a separate post about them a long time ago, since my grandfather has a rather lengthy journal entry about the «aviation team» from 1960. This post is getting too long, so I will introduce my heroes and pick it up in the next post.
Here they are:
Sam (helicopter engineer), Sergio (pilot), Bob (pilot), Ian (engineer)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ship o'clock

March 12

I am still quite proud of my newly invented term "ship lag". This leg (from Punta Arenas to Cape Town) we only had a few time zones to change and it is much much easier than the previous leg (Hobart to Punta Arenas). However, every time we do change clocks is still quite confusing and disorienting.

For my phone, instead of changing the clock, I decided to switch pre-defined time zones:

Our journey across all longitudes turned out to be a journey all over the world as sometimes there were no "nearby" cities to use and I referred to remote ones. This is how we ended up going to Petropavlosk Kamchatskiy in the between Australian and New Zealand time zones. We did not stay there for very long. Some time zones, like San Francisco (pacific US) and New York (eastern US) we spent less than 24 hours in. Some time zones we stayed for longer - going due south from Hobart to Mertz glacier we remained in one time zone for more than a week.

As I write this, we have one more time change in the week left till we reach Cape Town. Things are becoming even more hectic and we are thinking about packing up. It will probably be a big mess once again... I am not sure if there is a way to make it better, considering how little improvement has been made in managing any organizational part of our expedition. I just need to accept things I can't change and keep forwarding the clocks I guess ;)

Talking about forwarding the clocks - my parents gave me the best Christmas gift this year - a watch for time zones. I have to say this watch has kept me sane! No matter what time zone the ship is - I always have UTC time on the left side. And I keep adjusting the right side when needed.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The journey goes on

March 11, 2017

We have been at sea for more than two weeks after our last port (Punta Arenas). We have visited South Georgia islands, passed by South Sandwich islands and are now at Bouvetoya. These are the three archipelagos/islands we visit – the rest of the journey will be through open waters.

We have experienced all kinds of weather, lived through a hell of a storm, had snow, hail, calmness;  saw icebregs (but no sea ice this leg). It has been busy. The other day I was working in my “office” on the 4th deck (with windows) and I was so busy I forgot to look outside. What a lousy meteorologists! Thanks to our ship’s photographer passing by and mentioning the light and the clouds – I quickly ran outside and snaped this picture:
I have to say my life only got more busy. On top of my usual daily routine of sampling CTDs and underway (which I now have great help from our new team member Alex)  and launching radiosondes and collecting atmospheric data …. So on top of all this I’m starting to fill out custom declarations for all our cargo to return to various labs and institutes in Europe and US. It’s a tedious  task, as I have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of equipment and just general STUFF. It was really useful to have all I need, but it will be a pain to locate and to pack. It also snowed quite a bit between South Georgia and South Sandwich islands, and I had to postpone my packing efforts to sample.

I also tried to collaborate with our photographer to get his help with macro-images of snowflakes, but it was not cold enough for snow flakes to last. As soon as we lit them with any kind of light they melted. So at the end of the day all our efforts resulted in wasted time.
I expressed my frustration with an interpretative dance catching snow flakes on slides on heli deck:
At lease I hope the slides I collected will be useful.

Now I need to input all my slides into the data base and pack all my snow equipment ASAP as more packing awaits. Wish me luck!!!

Thanks for reading,