After arriving in the area the middle of January, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star finally docked at the ice pier Thursday, January 24. For over ten days it worked to create a channel from the ice edge to McMurdo Station. It also created a turning basin in front of Station.
Note: There is a webcam for the ice pier area if you would like to follow all the activities.
|From my dorm, a view of the Polar Star.|
It was a long journey from Seattle to McMurdo for the 140 men and women on board, and I'm sure they were glad to be able to spend some time on land. I took a tour of the ship to see first hand the living and working conditions. Our guide, Nick, was friendly and knowledgeable.
|Heading to the icebreaker for a tour.|
|View from the stern of the ship looking towards Hut Point.|
Inside the helicopter hanger, which is also used
for spinning classes.
My brother Jim, who is a tug boat captain, would have loved the tour and could have understood all the technical stuff. He would have felt right at home on the bridge, although his is probably a bit smaller. For me, it was just nice to get a feel what it's like to live on an icebreaker without getting seasick.
|The bridge. Pretty spacious.|
|The view from the lookout deck. Great view of my dorm.|
I was surprised at the thickness of the ice near the pier. Nick said it was probably 6-8 feet thick. But out where the channel was created it was only 2-4 feet thick.
|The thick chunks blue ice next to the ship.|
The tour lasted almost an hour. I stopped by the ship's store and picked up a couple of souvenirs, as any good tourist would have done. And took one last picture.
It was a pleasant outing, and I appreciated their hospitality. But I think I'll continue my sailing on cruise ships, equipped with stabilizers and all the finer things I've become accustomed to.