10 March 1995

Margie and I are starting to feel that we are here "Together Alone." The "Spirit of Sydney" has been gone for six weeks and we have put marks on the wall to count off the weeks. We have made up a few things that we are going to tell you each week. One is the best thing that happened this week: We went for a big walk wearing on crampons on Wednesday. We went up to the edge of the plateau behind Cape Denison. There is line of rocks that come out from the ice up there called the moraine line (an accumulation of boulders, rocks and debris carried and deposited by a glacier). We were hunting for meteorites. Any meteorite that falls on the ice of the plateau is slowly pushed down to the moraine line as the ice moves. We didn't find any but it was good fun having a look. Wednesday was fantastic after the blizzard on Monday and Tuesday. By 6 a.m. (we have kept our clock on Sydney Time--we just turned it back because Sydney went off daylight saving time last weekend) the sun was shining and wind had stopped. The sea started to freeze over. It was interesting to watch it, it doesn't take long but it only lasts while the wind is calm.

Students from Pahoia School in Tauranga, New Zealand asked questions this week about fossils in the rocks and about why Antarctica is now cold since they have been told that it was once warm. We haven't seen any fossils yet but we'll let you know if we find any in the rocks. The other question is an interesting one. I wanted to pack lots and lots of books but there was limited space and weight restrictions to consider when we packed our gear for Expedition Ice-Bound. The best answer I can give you is that Antarctica, the land buried under the ice was once part of Gondwanaland. Antarctica today is made up of two distinctly different natural areas. One is West Antarctica that is geologically known as the Andean Province and Greater Antarctica known as the Gondwana Province. I'll bet your teachers can help you find information about this subject in your school library or through the resources on your computer network which are unreal.

Margie and I spoke to a school in Japan this week on our satphone and they wanted to know about what we are eating just like students from Pemberton High School in Australia and Pahoia School in N.Z. One student even mentioned "fat." They knew that penguins, seals and whales living in the cold waters of Antarctica have a thick layer of fat and wanted to know if we were planning to gain one too! We don't plan to get fat but we lost weight on the voyage down and during the setting up of Expedition Ice-Bound. We aren't as active now and we will probably gain weight since our favorite food is pizza. We had pizza again this week. It's not like pizza you might make at home. We use BUTTERCUP Oven Bake Rolls for pizza bases and tins of EDGELL'S peeled tomatoes which we smash up and EDGELL'S champignons (mushrooms) in pieces and stems, some herbs, and grated cheese on top. We bake them in the kerosene oven. We forgot the pepper grind so we are smashing peppercorns in a tea towel with a hammer. When the hot pizzas come out of the oven they get a sprinkle of this fresh pepper. They are the best pizzas for more than 100 kilometres. (Our nearest neighbours are the folks at the French base Dumont d'Urville. Maybe some day we will ring them and ask if they make pizzas.) We don't want to start eating our winter breakfast which is going to be porridge just yet so we have made a combination of oats, cut up dried fruit, nuts and dried coconut--homemade Antarctic muesli. continued next message We have frozen meat that we were keeping buried in the snow but we're afraid of losing it. This week we brought it into the "cold porch" which is inside the hut. We had steak and frozen broccoli one night and another night this week we had a "Shelf Stable Meal" of satay chicken. "Shelf Stable Meals" are prepared meals that haven't been frozen or freeze dried. We heard about them on television on the Beyond 2000 program. They are kept fresh by a new technique that uses cycles of intense flash heat. This technique uses no preservatives or additives and the nutritional content is the same as freshly cooked food. After we learned about "Shelf Stable Foods" we analysed the fuel consumption and volume of taking 'basics' and cooking like the early explorers versus the newer way of microwave and "Shelf Stable Foods." We figured out that the newer way would save on fuel so the bulk of our provisions is an assortment of precooked, just heat and eat "Shelf Stable" meals.

How about these facts for hours of sunshine per month. You might compare them with where you live. In Antarctica we can expect sunshine, not daylight we're talking about the sun shining. Some days are cloudy or blizzards! Sunshine hours in - February 244; March 154; April 65; May 57; June 10; July 35; August 50; September 226' October 251; November 310 and December 370. So you can see that we are going to be running the diesel generator from the end of this month. Remember I told you about making electricity (24 February).

Students from New Zealand asked about baby seals, penguins and whales. So far we have only seen baby penguins but that is one of the reasons we are here. We want to observe the seasonal cycle of life in Antarctica. We have seen small seals but they didn't look like babies, maybe next spring. Whales- -we saw killer whales from "Spirit of Sydney." They followed our boat. If you happened to see the Today Show last Monday, 6 March in Australia they showed the killer whales that we filmed! Killer whales eat meat, seals, other whales and penguins... There are now eleven moulting penguin hanging around near a rocky outcrop about 8 metres away from the hut. We wonder if they will survive their moult since they seem out of phase with the rest of the penguin community. All the other penguins are gone from this area. We will miss them when they go, they are fun to watch. That reminds me about fat. I didn't finish what I started to say about fat keeping animals warm down here in Antarctica. We plan to keep warm with clothes instead of an internal layer of fat. We have some really good, modern protection from the cold. One of the best thing we have with us is our thermals. They are EVERWARM thermals from New Zealand. They are fantastic. Margie laughed after she washed hers and left them to dry when we went out one day. When we came back they were standing up, more than a metre high, all by themselves, frozen stiff inside our hut. We are also wearing modern sailing and mountaineering clothes that are very comfortable. I think of Mawson and his men. They had reindeer hide sleeping bags. I'll tell you more about our clothing next week.

Keep warm,
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