Categories

Christchurch in Spring

Christchurch, New Zealand (known here as “Cheech,” the rough pronunciation of its airport abbreviation, CHC) has long been the launching point for Antarctic expeditions. It is from here the United States Antarctic Program launches flights to McMurdo Station. Christchurch is also where those who have worked the summer and who will soon be spending the winter go for a week of rest and relaxation prior to winter. Spending the winter in Antarctica is known as wintering and those who are wintering are known as winter-overs.

As my thoughts are now turning toward Christchurch and eventually home to thaw these winter bones (summer bones?), I thought I’d thrill you all with photos of Christchurch and the Botanic Gardens, taken in October, 2009 which was springtime here in the southern hemisphere. I reckon my readers in the northern hemisphere would appreciate some springtime goodness as well.

Cathedral Square is the central business district of Christchurch.

Chess in Downtown Christchurch.

Chess in downtown Christchurch.

Church in Downtown Christchurch.

Church in Christchurch.

Cathedral Square features an 18m (59ft.) sculpture commemorating the new millennium. The leaf patterns of 42 native plant species are depicted.

Leaf Sculpture in Christchurch.

Leaf Sculpture in Cathedral Square, Christchurch.

Founded in 1863, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens are located along the Avon River, just outside the central part of Christchurch.

Avon River.

Avon River.

Site of original hatchery where first brown trout ova arrived in New Zealand, Septmeber, 1867.

Site of original hatchery where first brown trout ova arrived in New Zealand, Septmeber, 1867.

Irises.

Calla lilies.

On the other side of town from the Botanic Gardens is the firehouse:

…and 9/11 memorial:

9/11 Memorial, Christchurch.

9/11 Memorial, Christchurch.

On the road from Cathedral Square to the Botanic Gardens is a statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. It is one of two sculptures of Scott sculpted by his wife, Kathleen Bruce, after his death.

Captain Robert F. Scott. Sculpted by his wife, Kathleen Bruce after his death.

Captain Robert F. Scott. Sculpted by his wife, Kathleen Bruce after his death.

Kathleen Bruce created this sculpture after learning of her husband’s death. Captain Scott and his men reached the South Pole on Jan. 17, 1912, one month after Roald Amundsen of Norway and his men became the first to reach the pole. While Amundsen and his men all returned safely, all five members of Scott’s party died on the way back from the pole. Seaman Edgar Evans died at the foot of the Beardmore Glacier, Captain L.E.G. Oates, realizing he was a drain on his comrades, walked to his death in a blizzard. Scott wrote that as Oates left the tent, he told the remaining members of the party, “I am just going outside and may be some time.” He was never seen again.

Captain Scott’s body was found on November 12, 1912 in a tent with the two remaining members of his party, Doctor Edward A. Wilson and Lieutenant Henry R. Bowers. Evidence suggests Captain Scott was the last to die, at age 43. They remain in that tent, somewhere on the ice barrier of the Ross Ice Shelf, long ago drifted over with snow, slowly drifting toward the sea.

The Pegasus Fuel Line

The Pegasus fuel line is a fuel hose that runs from Scott Base over the Ross Ice Shelf to the Pegasus Airfield.  A system of piping and valves connects the fuel tanks at McMurdo Station to a pipeline that runs along the road about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) to Scott Base. At the transition from land to the Ross Ice Shelf at Scott Base, the pipeline connects to the fuel hose which carries fuel to the airfield. The hose is similar to large diameter hose (LDH) used in firefighting. While many fire departments use 5″ diameter LDH, the fuel line here is 6″ in diameter.

Pipeline to Scott Base.

Pipeline to Scott Base.

Hose Reel.

Hose Reel.

Keepin' it reel.

Keepin' it reel.

The fuel hose runs thirteen miles over the Ross Ice Shelf to the airfield.

Pegasus fuel line. (photo credit to Pegasus line crew)

Pegasus fuel line (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Flow control valve (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Flow control valve (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Booster pump (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Booster pump (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Hose reels (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Hose reels (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Hose reel (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

Hose reel (photo thanks to Pegasus line crew).

At the airfield, the fuel is stored in fuel tanks.

Pegasus Airfield fuel tanks. (Photographer unknown)

Pegasus Airfield fuel tanks (photographer unknown).

I was told there would be no math…

Thirteen miles of 6-inch diameter hose is a long stretch. For those who wonder about such matters, by my reasoning there are over 100,000 gallons of fuel in the line at a given time.

Here’s the math I used. It’s been a long time, so if it’s incorrect let me know.

To figure volume in a cylinder, the formula is V=πr²h where V is volume, r is the radius of the cylinder (3 inches here) and h is the height of the cylinder (or in this case the length of the hose). Thirteen miles is 68640 feet (5280 feet in a mile), or 823680 inches. One cubic inch = 0.0043290043 gallon.

So after all the math, that’s 23289003.305568 cubic inches, or roughly 100,818.196 gallons.

Tanker USNS Paul Buck at the Ice Pier

The USNS (United States Naval Ship) Paul Buck arrived at the ice pier in the late morning of Fri., Jan. 22, 2010. It was guided to the pier by the icebreaker Oden.

Oden clearing the way.

Oden clearing the way.

Oden backing out of the way.

Oden backing out of the way.

USNS Paul Buck

USNS Paul Buck. (No smoking is good advice near a vessel carrying over 5 million gallons of petroleum products.)

USNS Paul Buck at the ice pier.

USNS Paul Buck at the ice pier. Note the 6" diameter fuel hoses.

Once at the ice pier, the fuel offload can begin. The tanker is carrying 4.6 million gallons of AN-8 (diesel), 350,000 gallons of JP-5 (aviation fuel), and 115,000 gallons of mogas (motor gasoline) for transfer to McMurdo Station’s various fuel tanks. When all three types of fuel are flowing, the peak flow will be approximately 3200 gallons per minute. The fuel transfer takes about 38 hours and will flow through around 1.4 miles of hose and pipe.

Six-inch fuel hoses on bridge to ice pier.

Six-inch fuel hoses on bridge to ice pier.

Fuel hoses meeting the piping.

Fuel hoses meeting the piping.

Fuel tanks.

Fuel tanks near the road to Scott Base.

Fuel tanks as seen from atop Observation Hill.

Fuel tanks as seen from Observation Hill.

The piping runs from the ice pier across town to the tanks which are located on the road to Scott Base. The piping then continues another 2.5 miles along the road to Scott Base where it feeds the fuel hose that runs all the way to the Pegasus airfield.

Whales In the Sound

Whales have started to appear in McMurdo Sound.

Here are some photos of a Minke whale in the waters just off Hut Point:

Minke Whale

I saw another whale off the Ob Hill Loop earlier in the morning, but it was evidently camera-shy.

There is a whale in there.

There is a whale in there.

The sea ice continues to break up.

Loose sea ice.

Loose sea ice off Hut Point.

Winter Quarters Bay is almost clear of ice.

Winter Quarters Bay is almost clear of ice.

The tanker USNS Paul Buck is now scheduled to arrive at the McMurdo Station ice pier on Jan. 22, followed by the cargo ship MV American Tern on Feb. 1.

Room With a View

A morale trip, or boondoggle, is a recreational trip away from McMurdo Station. They are offered to allow people to visit areas and see sights that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to. (I suspect they are also offered to prevent people from launching morale trips of their own, only to end in disaster.)

On the evening of Monday, Jan. 18, I was part of a small morale trip who rode snow machines to Room With a View, about 1,400 feet up Mt. Erebus. Here, Hut Point Peninsula joins the main body of Ross Island.

First, we rode in a Haglund from McMurdo to where the snow machines are kept, on the Pegasus Road just outside Scott Base.

Haglund

Haglund

From there we drove the snow machines along a trail on the ice and land to Room With a View.

Spartan accomodations.

Room With a View: spartan accommodations.

The view of McMurdo Sound to the west includes Tent Island, Inaccessible Island, Big Razorback, and Little Razorback Islands. This is also where the Erebus Glacier Tongue juts out into McMurdo Sound, and if you look very closely, you can still see the Oden hanging around (to the left), waiting for the supply ships to arrive.

Tent Island and Inacessible Island behind Big Razorback and Little Razorback Islands

Tent Island and Inaccessible Island behind Big Razorback and Little Razorback Islands.

The weather was fairly nice; partly cloudy and not too windy or cold.

Mt. Erebus and me.

Mt. Erebus and me.

Snow machine and me.

Snow machine and me.

Castle Rock could be seen with a veil of cloud.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock

Castle Rock

Castle Rock

About eight minutes later, Castle Rock was no longer visible.

"Hey! Are those clouds headed this way?"

"Hey! Are those clouds headed this way?"

About a minute after that we were in the clouds.

"Yes!"

"Yes!"

McMurdo Sound Obscured.

McMurdo Sound obscured.

The weather changes rather rapidly here.

After the visibility dropped, we rode back home. After we dropped about fifty feet or so in elevation (according to our guide), we were out of the clouds and it was a pleasant ride back.

More Penguins - Woot

Watching the penguins at Hut Point after work.

A few were hanging out on the ice and decided to head in for a swim.

"Last one in's a rotten skua egg!"

"Last one in's a rotten skua egg!"

An oblivious seal made its regular appearance.

A skua also made an appearance. Fortunately, it dropped its cargo prior to its final approach. It landed and just sat there as if four people were not wandering back and forth taking photos.

On the shore below the cliff at Hut Point, the swimming penguins had come ashore.

"Oh, hi!"

They soon became rather curious regarding the people taking their photos from above. Some of them tried climbing the steep rocky slope adjacent to the more sheer cliff, but the loose rock kept them from gaining any ground.

"Dang it! I can't fly!"

"Dang it! I can't fly!"

"Bah."

"Bah."

Eventually they realized this was a lost cause and headed up the coast a bit.

Here, they tried to figure out how to get past the three foot high snow cliff. They eventually lost interest and began picking at the rocks.

"So, how 'bout those humans...Hey! Let's eat rocks!"

"So, how 'bout those humans...Hey! Let's eat rocks!"

At about this time, my camera batteries also lost interest and died.