And so we took to the boats! Our rigging work requires us to go to some islands a few miles away to service weather equipment and radio repeaters, so we had to do some boat work. Yesterday we finally had good enough weather to take a spin, check out the local area, get briefed on procedures and the like.
Soon after we left the dock, our trainer asked if anyone wanted to take the helm. I volunteered and at last I was doing what I have dreamed about for more than a decade - I found myself steering a boat through the ice! It doesn't sound like much, but after reading so many antarctic sailing stories, though we were not in a sailboat, I was very excited to finally be able to share this task, small as mine might be. Palmer Station is small, there are no outside runs to be had. I run on the treadmill and have been gazing longingly outwards to the islands across the sea. We took to the boats and I found my freedom.
We go slow through the brash ice, but are able to go full steam ahead when there's little ice chunks. Sometimes they require weaving about, sometimes you can surf down the swell at the same time. I love the task and steered for as long as I could morally steer before asking if someone else wanted to share in the task. I came to realize, perhaps more than I ever have, that I love driving boats!
In my suit, I was ready for more, so I went out again with some others to see the sights. We stopped by a few islands, the old Palmer Station, saw many many seals, a few penguins, and some glorious ice bergs. All in all a fantastic few days of boating. I love the sea, I love being on the helm. And I'm happy to be here.