…and waiting, also Lyttelton Port

…and waiting, also Lyttelton Port

Photo of Lyttelton Port with Discovery expedition berthed, from nzhistory.net

 We’ve been “extended” several times now. It’s our third day of extension, Monday 1/11/16 in NZ and we were supposed to get on the airport shuttle at 5:45. That was extended 4 hours so we did a repeat of Saturday, back to sleep then out for a good breakfast at Hummingbird in the Container mall, where we are now recognized (and where they have really good coffee, baked goods, and yogurt). During breakfast we were extended another 2 hours, which meant we would need to check out of our hotel then possibly check back in if we were extended again or if our airport shuttle “boomerangs”–we fully expect not to go today. We’ve been weather watching and they are in a Condition 2 right now @ McMurdo. That could change. I would rather not go today than get partway there and get boomeranged back. 

There’s absolutely nothing one can do about this; it happens. We heard about a group that was stuck in our hotel for 2 weeks. But that was for a Winfly (winter) mission, and timing those must be very tricky indeed. No matter what though I need to get to the CDC today and swap out some dirty clothes for clean, also get my camera backpack. My deepest regret was leaving that because I would like to be practicing shots with the new Sony A7sii while on the endless Christchurch walks we’ve been taking. I have only my phone. Rookie tip #1: keep your work equipment at your hotel no matter if you think you’re leaving right away.

Saturday we went up in the Mt. Cavendish gondola and had a nice view over Christchurch as well as down to the port of Lyttelton. This was the port that Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova as well as Shackleton’s Nimrod in between used as NZ base. Scott had a cousin in Christchurch teaching at the University of Canterbury, and the expeditions made use of the magnetic observatory there. According to Professor Fyfe they also consulted other resources in the Canterbury museum. I’ve been reading a paper by Fiona Wills about the museum’s collections of Antarctic artifacts that says its first exhibition on Antarctica was in 1904.  Here is her work, a great resource: http://www.anta.canterbury.ac.nz/documents/GCAS_10/Projects/Fiona_Wills.pdf

Shuttle should leave in an hour–fingers crossed–so I’ll try to upload some photos and sign off for awhile.

Lyttelton Port now, from Mt. Cavendish. It was badly damaged in the quake; see http://www.rebuildchristchurch.co.nz/blog/2014/7/port-lyttelton-now-and-the-plan


Statue of Captain James Cook in Victoria Park, Christchurch. Commissioned to resolve the question of the existence of a southern continent on his second voyage (1772-1775) he famously said that if it existed,  “I make bold to declare that the world will derive no benefit from it.” Wrongo.


Later: extended till Tuesday AM. After a round of sink laundry, I’m headed to the CDC for my camera. To save a few bucks, this will entail a trip on a free International Antarctic Centre bus with penguin manikins on top of it. I make bold to declare that we will get to the southern continent eventually, Captain Cook.




Packing!  The camera and audio gear is largely packed, but I’ll probably rearrange it again. We are each carrying a backpack full of gizmos, plus Vince has a rolling suitcase with the tripod and 2 heads, slider and motion control for it, audio cables and a bunch of other misc. Freaking out over small things like missing set screws for the time lapse gizmo for the slider dolly. This is when you are glad to have McGyver people around. But let’s put this in perspective: never mind packing, today I am also thinking of the pack.

100 years ago on 29 December 1915 Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, its ship having been caught and squeezed in the Weddell Sea pack until she sank, stopped the horrific march across the jumbled pack ice and set up “Patience Camp” on the sea ice, hoping to drift closer to real land. They stayed there until April when their camp began to crack up–literally–and they launched boats for Elephant Island, still a long long way to go on their ordeal.

Meet Grace’s puppy Shackleton, named in honor of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the charismatic leader of this and the earlier Nimrod expedition. I think, from all accounts, a good man. 

In case you don’t know the story of the Endurance, please read or watch an account at some  point.  It’s just a remarkable story.  There are many available tellings.  I recommend the silent “South” released on DVD in 2000 or the one that Liam Neeson narrated circa 2000. Either way you get Frank Hurley’s stunning images, still and moving.

The account of the expedition’s other half is not so pretty, to put it mildly. Since we will be on their side of the continent, I’ll post more about their grim time later on.

Here is a Nova doc about the Endurance in 2 parts that someone kindly posted on YouTube.

And I wish I had seen Phantom Limb’s puppet version, 69 degrees South.