My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VI

Palmer Station Comes to Life – copyright 2009 Jack W. Cummings

Edisto-in-Arthur-Harbor In the Antarctic all life hinges on the weather, and in this US Navy photo the crew of the Edisto can be seen warding off pieces of pack ice with a fire hose. That said, beginning on the 13th of January, all hands onboard the Edisto wasted no time in “laying to” the daunting task of moving personnel and equipment to staging areas onshore. Three days later the Edisto would rendezvous with the USNS Wyandot in the vicinity of the Melchior Islands some 70 miles to the north. Her duty now would be to escort the Wyandot through the “ice” to her anchorage near Palmer. The cargo hold of the Wyandot held the bulk of material needed to build and supply Palmer for the next year – minus furniture for our living quarters – more about that later.Wyandot-and-Edisto-at-Palme

US Navy Photos from cruise book

During the ensuing days and as weather permitted, small boats from the Edisto and Wyandot, plus an LH-34 Sikorsky helicopter attached to the Edisto, operated almost continuously moving cargo to shore. Edisto’s log shows that on the 21st of January she was escorting the Wyandot northward. I assume that offloading was a success, except for our missing furniture. I am not sure where the Wyandot went next, but I have located an official US Navy photo identifying her at Hallett Station in 1964, over 2600 miles away. Quite possibly she had offloaded cargo at Hallett Station before arriving at Palmer and was heading back to the states. Continue reading “My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VI”

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My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part V

Beautiful Chile to Antarctica – copyright 2009 Jack W. Cummings

Eighteen days after leaving the winter weather of Boston Harbor, we sailed into and docked in the warm waters of Valparaiso, Chile. Today, as I write his, it is a balmy 83 degrees there, so I can only assume that it was at least in the 70 – 80 degree range during our four day stay there.. It was a welcome change. Since members of the wintering over party were only passengers, we were permitted to come and go as we pleased. With this in mind Charlie, Tom, and I made our arrangements to take the train to Santiago and spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful city. Since we did not have any civilian clothes with us, we would have to travel in our dress blue (wool) uniforms. I don’t remember this being anything that we were concerned about. About the only thing I can remember about that train trip there and back was what horrible condition the train tracks were in, which made moving around the cars nearly impossible. I did spend some time in the dining car where I enjoyed a breakfast of “huevos rancheros” which included a thick steak. It was an amazing meal, and it only cost $1 US. All I can recall about the countryside that we travelled through was sparsely populated areas similar to southern California. To see if this train was available now, I “flew” the route between Valparaiso and Santiago via Google Earth. It is apparent that the train route is no more and has mostly been replaced by a modern four-lane super highway. I recently read the blog of Carla Appel who had in September, returned to South America from New Palmer Station and was pleased with the modern buses serving Chile and Argentina. I suspect that old train has been replaced by a modern highway and deluxe buses. In my “flight” I observed what appeared to be a very prosperous countryside. Continue reading “My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part V”