El Día de SardinasFebruary 24, 2014
Cape Marsh, Robinson Island, Antarctic Peninsula… the last place I’d imagine we’d be eating a can of sardines… Yet here we are, hunkered down in the breeze, having a Sunday Brunch of sardines and biscuits.
Our day started with the usual – obsessively checking the weather via the Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) and looking at imagery and data from the three AMIGOS towers located to the south of us. Scheduled to be on the helo ramp at 0830, we finally lift off at 0925 – a total of sixteen crew and passengers bound for Cape Marsh and Matienzo station.
The flight south from Base Marambio takes about an hour – we circle to land on a rocky spot above the GPS station – touch down and out the door we go – three Norte Americanos and their five boxes of tools, parts, rations and survival gear. Though we’re only planning to be here for an hour and a half, we are prepared to stay at least five days should the weather change or helicopter issues arise.
The helo chatters off with thirteen souls bound for Matienzo Station – the Base Commander at Marambio has chosen a few people among his staff to fly to Matienzo and check on how the station faired through the long winter.
Since we’re on a tight schedule, we get right to work, photographing the GPS installation and documenting any wear and tear by the relentless wind and snow. Ted’s on the satellite phone checking in with Thomas back in Boulder, while Terry and I start digging a trench for the new antenna cable. Time flies as we work to bring the ailing station back to life. One last call to Thomas and UNAVCO confirms that we have a fully operating system – time to pack our gear and get ready for the helo arrival.
“We need to eat these sardines now!” Ted proclaims as we’re closing up our cargo boxes. These damn sardines have been an obsession with him and he will not be denied. We each gulp down an oily sardine, knowing that we’ll have to live with the aftertaste for the next hour’s helo flight. Mission accomplished and we head for home base.