4.1.18 Expecting S.A. Agulhas
Even in times of planes, private jets etc. the arrival of a ship at an Antarctic base ist still a special event. The South African research icebreaker S.A. Agulhas was due at Neumayer at Christmas Eve, but we knew that this date would not hold since I had seen the ship still in the port of Capetown in the first week of December. Then she was supposed to come at the end of the year, but the weather was so bad where she had to do the unloading of the cargo for the South African Antarctic base, SANAE IV, that it took ages.
Then suddenly yesterday morning, she could be seen from the roof of our base. In the morning there had been clouds, but now the sun was shining on the white icebergs and the red ship was clearly standing out in front of them. She did not try to get through the ice to the ice shelf edge, but stayed at the eastern edge of the sea ice, ramming only a short way through the 1.5m thick ice. So the unloading had to take place on the sea ice. Our Pistenbullys (snowcats) with the heavy sledges carrying the containers had to go 16km (10 Miles) on the sea ice. With our skidoos we were faster than the Bullys and went to see the ship. It was a majestic sight, the ship was still trying to find a safe position for the unloading and was pushing through the ice. We kept our distance, took some pics and went back. On the way back to the station we saw the technical team with three Pistenbullys and empty sledges on their way to Agulhas. Everybody is a bit nervous during a sea ice unloading, but the weather was perfect, everything went well and we were all happy when it was safely finished.
I was even happier because on the way to and from the ship we came close to beautiful icebergs, some of them I had never seen before.