Friday, December 05, 2003
It was good to be back in Hobart. Now a very familiar city, I flew down only one day before departing for to my third trip to Antarctica. I got straight to the Astrolabe to find out that we were leaving at 6am the next morning. That was just enough time to cancel my hotel reservation and run to the Australian Antarctic Division to receive my ECW gear (Extremely Cold Weather). This year I got much luckier than last time. I have to admit that I was not looking forward to the bright yellow suit I was expecting to be handed. Last year at Dome C, this overall got me nicknamed "Casimir" by several station workers. In France, Casimir is a TV character for kids, a bit like a Teletubie only much fatter. Luckily for my pride and for Australia's fashion, I received this time a dark green overall and a very slick black parka. It is the first one they received and they lent it to me for "testing" purposes. Anyway, the point is that this year, I will look more like Mulder and less than Casimir.
Once this was out of the way, I got back to the Astrolabe, checked that all the equipment we shipped earlier was there and went and buy the silicon I need to make the AASTINO for once and for all wind and bullet proof. On my way back I found Andrew parking his car in front of the boat. Andrew is a CSIRO scientist who we met last year on the Astrolabe. He worked in a container at the bottom of the ship, measuring several parameters of the Southern ocean like salinity and gas content. He won't be part of the trip this year (afraid of the Astrolabe??) but was making sure that everything was up and working for his colleague Emilie who was also on board last year and the only familiar face this year.
Andrew invited the both of us to have dinner at his place. It was a very special dinner, not only because he turns out to be a very good cook but also because I knew this was my last dinner before spending the next six day at sea. I took a last good look at a piece of grass and went back to the Astrolabe. I found myself in the same bed as last year. It is located on the lowest floor of the boat; next to the kitchen (maybe they don't like me...). I also packed a serious amount of sweets with me. In case the weather goes bad, I won't have to get up and will be able to survive on Mars bars and "Sour Snakes" and even if the weather is great it won't hurt...