Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vessel Offload / Truck Driving!

Yes, folks, it is truck driving time. The vessel is here and the work has begun. I have acquired an old military surplus "Five Ton" green truck named Jill. Number 656. She and I cruise the town for 12 hours each day.

The routine: Meet at 6:40am. Get in the back of a pick-up, then find our rigs. Get in rig (perhaps a word or two to the night shift worker, or perhaps the truck is just waiting for you). Then drive down to the warf, get in line, eventually drive over the bridge and onto the ice pier. The pier is made totally of ice (now covered with a bit of rock) and is about 30 feet deep. It was made with special coolant pipes to freeze the water down to that depth. When I am first in line, I am motioned to a parking spot beneath one of three cranes. Then a crane picks up what I used to know as a "container" and now know as a "milvan" or "can." The worker crew then guides the can down onto the trailer of my truck, I lock it down on all four corners, get my assigned drop off point, get the weight of my load, and I am off! I get to the sight, a huge fork lift unloads me, and I drive back to the pier. Repeat for 12 hours.

Yes, it could be boring. But no, it is far from it. First of all, I get to drive an old truck with a stick shift and air brakes. Second I get to wear a headset with a radio and therefore feel like I'm again flying a plane. Third, I'm still in Antarctica. And fourth, and far from being the least of reasons, I have friends who drive the other trucks so we endlessly race around the circuits trying to get in front of the other persons truck while in line. Of course, the trucks are not fast, and driver skill has nothing to do with the quickness at which one returns to line up on the warf. The crane crews, the load weight and the drop off location are what makes up the order. Regardless it is endlessly entertaining to scoul and squint and shake an angry fist at who ever got back there in front of me. I also enjoy the record keeping and moved almost 200,000 pounds of loads today.

So now, we continue with the off load. The off loading and then reloading of supplies bound for the states should take about a week. No days off until it is all done. Thankfully, I should be with Jill for the duration. Snake scales on the doors and a seprent tongue on the hood. She's a beaut.


  1. Ben - seems like a different world! Wow, you've been having the adventure. This is Jeff. Take care of yourself, and hello to all the GAs.


  2. Ben...not sure if you're receiving email, so i figure i post to your blog just in case. I thought I'd look you up to see what you've been up to...and HOLY COW man! you've been blazing a trail across several maps. Great to see that you're truly experiencing life. Very inspiring. Now that I've found your blog, I plan on staying in tune with your adventures. My best! Ken Stroud (kenneth.stroud-1@nasa.gov)