Thursday 18 October 2012

Lorry Loader Course

Driving the Nodwell.
Going for a walk with the
"want to be boat"
Right, so after doing a chainsaw course, which sounds funny enough, we now also got to do a lorry loader course. Yes, I can assure you guys, I do have a marine biology related job and am going to Antarctica... So, chainsaw for making holes into the ice! However, during the summer we have to be able to get the boats into the water! As there is no proper slipway, but a wharf, we can use a crane to launch the boats over the side of the wharf. Hence, the lorry loader course as they use pretty much the same crane. We had 3 days with an instructor to get us trained up on the crane. This meant repeatedly doing the same tasks over and over again including giving each other’s signals, setting up the crane and moving a small trailer which we pretended was the boat. It was all good fun but a bit embarrassing as I needed help putting the heavy legs up from the crane which is going to be put down as a note on my crane license...  Lots and lots of practice and I hope I won’t have forgotten too much by the time I get to Rothera.

Monday 8 October 2012

Chainsaw Course

Chainsaw Course

A couple of people have expressed their concerns when I informed them that BAS is going to train me in how to use a chainsaw. I guess I can be glad that mental health was not assessed beforehand in too much detail? We left Thursday lunchtime to drive back to Derby for the one-day course. On Friday morning we found our way to a farm on the countryside and were welcomed by the farmer. After having a cup of tea/coffee/squash, we went into the shed and had a look at some chainsaws. We were taught how to take them partially apart and afterwards back together. Before lunch we went out and started using the chainsaw. As usually the class is less likely to consist of females, I ended up wearing boots which were about double the size of my feet. But luckily I managed not to fall over with the chainsaw in my hand! Unfortunately, I failed in the first instance: I was not able to start the chainsaw. However, I was allowed to use a joker and could ask someone for help ;)
Lunch consisted of some really nice homemade food! Afterwards we went out again and were allowed to play around with a bigger blade. We were also able to practice sawing from the top down, introducing the blade vertically into the wood (like we would do on the ice). In the end, we all learned how to fell trees properly (make them fall into the direction we want them to); all around a really good day with lots and lots of hands on practice and surprisingly no powerpoint. Luckily, our instructor did not tell us what a group of BAS people were told a couple of years ago with a different instructor: do not use the chainsaw below knee level (doh? Cutting ice?!) and do not stand on slippery surfaces (ai! Try that when cutting ice ...)!

Monday 1 October 2012


After coming back from the chainsaw course on Friday evening, we left for Oban on Sunday morning, picking Belinda up on the way. The next week was spent with the National Facility for Scientific Diving (NFSD) which is part of the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences (SAMS). Four of us (Matt – base commander, Bel – marine biologist, Peter – diving officer and I) went diving in Oban for 3 days. The three of us had to get used to the kit BAS uses (NFSD uses very similar kit) and it was good to go diving together so we could get to know each other much better. So Monday to Wednesday we did two dives each. It was pretty relaxed: the morning started with tea/coffee, eventually we went out for two dives (20-30 minutes each); then we came back to fill cylinders and have sandwiches and went out again at some point in the afternoon to do the second round of dives; by 5pm we were finished each day. One evening we had scallops which we had collected on one of the dives. I tried them for the first time in my life and unfortunately am not too fond of them... On Thursday and Friday we had chamber training which was really interesting as we learned how to operate the chamber and how to act as a chamber attendant. Just in case something happens down south, so that we can operate the chamber on site (which again will require specific training for the chamber down there). A fun week and my first time in Scotland!!