29 JANUARY 1995"
Spirit of Sydney" and our crew left last night and we are totally alone except for the penguins. One penguin has adopted us. He stands near our hut all by himself. He looks young and lost. He acts like he wants to come into the hut. Margie won't let him. Penguins have some funny habits. One day before the hut was finished we were taking photos of the teddy bears. Some how one teddy was left ashore for the night. When we found him the next day the penguins had done an Antarctica hazing job on him. He was covered with penguin food. Penguin food that had been inside penguins. That's the way penguins behave if they are frightened. It's also the way they feel their young. They aren't housetrained either so Margie insists they stay outdoors. It's a fine day with no wind and our first day "Together Alone." We agree it's time for a rest and a roast dinner. Margie says we have to take baths before dinner while the day is warm. It's zero and that's warm. We haven't had a bath for thirteen days. Margie is counting. It's not like we were dirty or anything but she used to be a nurse and she's in charge of health and hygiene down here.

Taking a bath sounds easy but it's not. Water - that means either melting snow and ice or trekking over the this little lake. We are using the lake because melting ice and snow uses up fuel and we must conserve fuel as much as we can. It isn't a long walk to the lake but the other day Margie took a bad fall between the hut and Boat Harbour. She fell into a mini crevasse about sixty centimetres deep and hurt her elbow, knee and hip. She has some real good colours coming out now and a lump on her elbow the size of an egg. Walking around on ice every day is strange for a woman from Queensland. She's only ever done it once before and that was in the Snowy Mountains last winter do some training for this expedition. Since the fall we wear our crampons every time we go out walking. (Crampons are mountaineering gear, they are like a set of nails that you strap on over your boots.) So, I was telling you about getting ready to take this bath. Trek to the lake, chop a hole in the ice. Scoop out water with a bucket, take it back to the hut, heat it up. Here comes the good part, go out into the annex, it's a little room sort of a back porch that is like our toilet/bathroom. It was zero degrees in the annex. Take off all our clothes, get into the shower (a big plastic bucket fitted with a shower curtain). One stands in the shower while the other pours warm water over you from a coffee mug. Let me tell you, baths are quick when it's zero degrees.CREW GOES EXPLORING The weather here is strange. It can blow really hard then just stop. The day before the crew left they wanted to go and have a look at some crevasses up on the ice plateau. So three of them went off, David, Jay and Wade. We were down he working and we watched them go. You can see for miles. Later on I noticed one figure coming down off the plateau. I'm a safety freak and I told them that they had to stay together. Anything can happen here and I'm the expedition leader. I'm responsible for them and their lives. So when I saw one coming back alone and running, I immediately thought there was an emergency. I remembered the chilling account in Mawson's diaries of the day they lost Ninnis. They were travelling with two sleds and dog teams. Mawson crossed a crevasse and warned Ninnis. When he turned around Ninnis was gone. Mawson and Mertz went over near the crevasse. The snow had given away. Ninnis and his dog team were lost. I tried to stop thinking about that terrible accident. I couldn't. Seeing that lone figure running down the slope I felt worried. I imagined one crew must have fallen into a crevasse, the other was standing by and the third was coming back to get help. We started pulled out rescue stuff but then I saw the lone figure fall. Then he didn't get up for two or three minutes. I couldn't wait. I had my crampons on so off I went. It was David. He was coming back because he broke a crampon, the others were fine. I felt relieved.

On Saturday the 28th of January the 18,000 tonne Russian icebreaker, Kaptain Khlebnikov, arrived in Commonwealth Bay. The katabatics were blowing and we didn't think they'd be able to come ashore. But the wind died and one hundred tourists came ashore to see the penguins and to have a look at Mawson's Hut. We had asked the Kaptain Khlebnikov to transport some frozen meat for us and they had been unable to drop it off when they came by in early January. We had given up hope and were resigned to eating the food we brought along on "Spirit of Sydney." So it was a real treat to get the extra supplies. Our crew stayed and helped up unload and stow the cases of food. We buried them deep in the snow to keep them frozen.

Last night we got one hour of sleep. We are having a blizzard. It is serious. The wind is gusting to 200 kilometres per hour (110 knots). It started blowing on Sunday night and we noticed the walls on the back of the hut were flexing a bit so we bolted some timber on the outside on Monday but I didn't do it on the opposite wall, the one that faces southeast. Last night it flexed over three centimetres and almost five centimetres near the window. So I went just went out in the blizzard and got timbers. We have to put wedges and chocks in to stop this flexing. I hate think what we'd do if this I won't even think it. I saw up the timber and it's helping. When the wind stops we'll go outside and bolt some timbers on the outside. It's brutal out there now. I was only outside for about five minutes and I felt okay but my nose and my top lip weren't covered. Now that I'm back inside my nose and lip are burning hot. It's the beginning of frost bite. Margie is making us some nice warm Milo so I'll get back to you later.

Keep warm,
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