11 MAY 1995
It was very cold this week. The temperature inside "Gadget Hut" got down to minus 15 degrees Celsius. The heater is on all day now and we are struggling to keep the cabin temperature at 10 degree Celsius during the day. We wear our gloves inside all the time. Margie's face cream is frozen in the morning when we wake up. It is really hard to get out of bed in the morning when it is so cold and dark. We stay up at night until about 10 p.m. and usually get up when the sun comes up but one morning we stayed in bed until 11 AM.

We have to wear a full face neoprene masks as well as our balaclavas, hats and goggles to stop any frost nip. Margie and I have had two occasions when we have thought that our cheeks were freezing. The wind chill has made the temperature equal to minus 60 degrees. The temperatures have been below what Mawson recording during this time period. Collecting ice to melt into water is amazing. It is like smashing glass. It is so cold that the snow squeaks under our feet as we walk around with our crampons. We are trying to figure out which job is harder, going out to empty our "gray water" bucket when it is minus 60 or rushing to the toilet when it is minus 23 degrees out in the cold porch/bathroom. What has made us laugh is considering that we have the coldest toilet in Australia. Believe me you don't want to spend an extra minute out there right now.

There is a lot of sea ice on the horizon and there haven't been any seals around lately. We think it's because the sea ice is preventing them from making their way to Commonwealth Bay. Perhaps they have place to rest further out on the sea ice. We might not see any more seals for a while. The birds seem to have disappeared too. It seems very lonely here with just the two of us.

Last Friday was Sir Douglas Mawson's Birthday and we celebrated the occasion. We sang "Happy Birthday" to him and had a party in his honour. Sometimes we look at his hut and pretend that he is just out exploring. We tell each other that there is "still no one home." I guess it is a good thing that we are alone here or people might think we are being silly. We are looking forward to giving our mums satellite telephone calls on Mothers' Day. Margie no doubt will be telling her mum that she beat me three times at draughts this week. I'll be telling my mum that I beat her seven times. For real fun and games we might be moving our batteries inside "Gadget Hut." The batteries have been frozen down to minus 20 degrees. It's difficult to charge them when this happens. We ran the generator for five hours and only managed to put 48 amps into them. That is enough to give us about five hours of electricity for the telephone. It is less than half of what we were able to do a few weeks ago when the temperatures were a lot milder. We had a hard time starting the generator in this cold too. We had to put a blow torch under the casing to heat up the oil to get the motor to start. While I had the blow torch out we starting talking about the windows which are iced up again. I waved the blow torch over the windows to melt the ice. It was very effective so we have christened the technique, "Antarctic window cleaning." It is much easier than chipping the ice off the windows but neither way works for very long. The ice came right back on the windows so we tried putting olive oil on them. It doesn't work, the oil freezes. We are constantly chipping ice away inside the hut. Our pillows are freezing to the walls during the night. Our sleeping bags are damp on the top from the moisture given off by our bodies every night so we have to dry them every day. Another fun project to keep us busy is de-icing the air vents up on the roof of "Gadget Hut." We had to do that again this week.

The Antarctic high pressure system has moved out over the coast. This has created a steady barometer and relatively clear blue skies. We have seen some great sunsets and some really big auroras. We down-loaded the weather into the computer successfully this week. We think our leaving the cable in place has solved the problem. We hope that we will have a continuous weather record for the rest of the year.

The sea is freezing over very thickly. I'm looking forward to going for a walk on the ocean. The katabatic winds are about 60 knots during the night and down to only 20 or 30 knots during the day. The problem with the wind is that it can blow the ice away. That is exactly what happened the other night, the wind gusted up to 70 knots and the ice went away. Boat Harbour is frozen solid now for one-third of its length. It is quite thick, approximately 45 centimetres. We have walked over part of Boat Harbour.

We went out for a walk the other day and were looking forward to getting warm when we returned to "Gadget Hut." While we were away the temperature inside sunk to minus 6 degrees.
Keep warm,
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