On watch


12 February 2007

On watch

Every night, from 11pm to 7am we have someone on watch. With eight of us on board this equates to two hours night watch every second night.

We undertake this watch to ensure general safety on board and to keep a close eye on the ice and weather conditions and scientific material on the ice. During each watch we make a round of Tara, checking the heating system, temperature throughout the boat, batteries, fuel level and conditions outside. The hardest part of the watch is of course the beginning, being woken by the person before you. With the ice movement of the past few days it has been particularly important to regularly check outside for any new fracturing or movement. With an acoustic buoy sometimes suspended at a depth of 400 m off the back of Tara we need to be prepared to wake people rapidly and lift this instrument if the ice shows any sign of moving. It is also necessary to break the ice on the surface of this hole regularly throughout the night, a sure fire method to stay awake! For the person on the 5-7 watch there are the extra tasks of baking the bread and preparing the breakfast. Returning to sleep is not always easy, however one can rest assured that someone else is now on watch.