Friday, October 24, 2008

Home is where you hang your mask

A team of seven carpenters arrived yesterday; today we have a beautiful dive shack on the ice. It is a seven-section Jamesway tent, manufactured during the Korean War era. These tents were once the workhorse shelters of the U.S. Antarctic Program, but they are now being replaced by more energy-efficient structures. We like "our" old Jamesway, though, because it has withstood the abuse of heavy equipment, sea water, and the weather.

We also like the "carps" who worked very hard for long hours in biting cold ... without them, there would be no comfy dive shack, and sampling here would be much more difficult. Lesson: modern science is all about teamwork, and it takes people from many trades to get the results that lead us forward.

The first task is, of course, to pick a good spot. Two days ago, Shawn and I found a clear patch of ice. We then mapped out where we should position the floor sections of the Jamesway. This involved some math. In the top picture, Shawn doesn't look too confident in my arithmetic. (It turns out I was only a few inches off.)

A Jamesway tent is constructed of 4 x 16-foot plywood floor sections, each assembled from two 4 x 8-foot boxes. (That doesn't make a lot of sense without a drawing; I'll make a schematic later.) The first step in assembly is to lay down the floor sections and pin them together. The carps then set up the wooden arches that support the canvas walls (middle picture). These walls are really canvas blankets insulated with horse hair. The blankets are pulled taught against the arches using ropes; where they join together the blankets are held by a special belt. Equipped with a diesel-burning "Preway" heater, the dive shack is toasty warm for drying our suits between dives (and for warming us up after getting out of the -2C/28F water!).

Our next job is to melt dive holes at either end of the dive shack, and to set up the air compressor used to fill scuba tanks. A few more days of work, and we can begin sampling.

I can't wait. We are now about 2 weeks behind schedule, with warm days looming ...

No comments:

Post a Comment