10 Dec 2006

Into the Southern Ocean

On Friday at 6.00pm the Aurora Australis finally sailed into the sunset, down the Derwent River and around the southern edge of Tasmania into the vast Southern Ocean. No more land, just ocean for as far as you can see.

Some people tested the limits of their mobile receptions, making last minute phone calls to friends and family, others played hacky sack on the helipad at the back of the boat until Tasmania disappeared...

Lots of interesting people are on board — scientists, helicopter pilots, filmmakers, carpenters, plumbers, a doctor and even a polar explorer. Mealtimes are your best chance to meet up with people. I think I’ll start my interviews in a couple of days, once everyone has got their sea legs. Some people are already in bed with seasickness!

Before we sailed, everyone from Voyage 2 attended a briefing from the Australian Antarctic Division’s medical officer Peter Gormly. He told us what can happen, and what has happened, to people in Antarctica. It was a gruesome lecture with pictures of injured bodies and horrible accidents. I think his aim was to shock us into respect and reasonable fear and he definitely succeeded – living up to the nickname of ‘Doctor Death’!

He left us by saying there are three things that you must not forget in Antarctica. “It’s cold, it’s dangerous and please be kind to one another.”

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