The Aurora Australis recently arrived back in Australia and is currently in Fremantle for repairs to the hull which was damaged when the ship ran aground in Antarctica last month. Meanwhile, alternative plans for the season’s fourth and final Australian Antarctic voyage are being developed. With the Aurora out of action, another ship needs to be commissioned for the Macquarie Island voyage. I imagine finding a suitable ship at short notice is no small task. Consequently the departure date has been delayed and, depending on the capacity of the replacement ship, there may be some expeditioners who miss out.
It’s a case of “Hurry up and wait”. This catchphrase of military origins is popular in the Antarctic and Subantarctic. Typically, it’s waiting for the weather to improve and being prepared to take advantage of that weather window, if and when it occurs.
I’ve been waiting two years for that window to get an automatic weather station installed on the summit of Mt Elder (385 m.a.s.l.) during a resupply voyage when helicopters are available. Most of the weather data for Macquarie Island is from sea level, yet the weather can be very different at higher elevations. For example, there is often low cloud on the peaks which makes helicopter operations unsafe. Even if I do miss out on this trip I do hope the weather station installation goes ahead.
So far the only weather data I have collected is air temperature using a dozen miniature temperature loggers at different locations on the island. After 18 months in the field, these loggers will be returned to Australia on the upcoming voyage.