My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VIII

The Long Winter – copyright 2009 Jack W. Cummings

WinterOver Crew at mid-winters party It didn’t take long to settle into a daily routine. I had my daily communications schedules to attend to. “Cookie” prepared delicious meals for lunch and dinner. Breakfasts and Sunday meals were everyone for themselves. Everyone but Cookie was assigned a week at a time as kitchen helper and “house mouse” duties. Traditionally cooks in the Antarctic were exempt from all working parties, as good daily meals were an essential contribution to station morale. “Fergie” had his hands full keeping snow in the “snow-melter” and keeping our three generators in peak operating condition. Doc was in charge of our medical needs, as well as helping Fergie keep the fuel tanks topped off and other station tasks that arose from time to time. Continue reading “My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VIII”

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My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VII

Lifeline to the World – copyright 2009 Jack W. Cummings

When the Edisto set sail for Punta Arenas, it took a while to come to the realization that the nine of us, plus our Husky K-9 friend, were now faced with eleven months of interdependence on each other for mental, physical, and physiological survival. As the pack ice tightened its grip on the frozen continent, and having no airstrip for rescue planes to land on, the reality of our situation finally set in – we were alone. To a man, we had been all selected for this situation because of the testing and training that we had undergone. I don’t remember anyone dwelling on this subject for any length of time. Continue reading “My Second Antarctic Adventure – Palmer – Part VII”

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”