While I'm waiting…..

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    I have been reading through all the post for a couple weeks now and got most of my questioned answered….but here are a couple i did not find too much on…….
    *how much of the ice do you really get to see???…….i know coming from an icebreaker we got to see quite a bit going from seattle to up to the north pole back down to norway and i know it will be different be isolated to one spot, and i’m sure it depends on the job too, but is it just walking from one spot to another…….or is there time to do some sightseeing?

    *anyone that has been on the Gould/Palmer and wants to give some insight about working on one that would be great, from what i have read it sounds like being on the CG icerbreaker without all the military B.S., but i have not been able to find a whole lot out on employment…..not alot of info on the ECO website. does raytheon do hiring for them?

    p.s. reading these postings has been so much fun, it reminds me completley of being on the ship u/w for 6 months and the “other family” we all had……..i miss that!


    Hi CoastyCook,

    > *how much of the ice do you really get to see???

    Really depends on your job and work location.

    Cooks (and many workers) at McMurdo get to see, well, McMurdo and a bit of the surroundings, which is spectacular, but after the novelty wears off you may find yourself wanting more. There is time to get out and hike, and maybe the occasional day-boondoggle to an off-site location a short distance from the station. Some other jobs get out more, to field camps or remote sites. Again, depends on the job. Polies get to see McMurdo and the Pole, and that’s about it.

    > anyone that has been on the Gould/Palmer and wants to
    > give some insight

    I’ve been on both and just got off the NBP two days ago (still heavily jet-lagged) so I maybe I can help here. The cooks are employed by Edison Chouest Offshore, a.k.a. ECO. I have no idea how they do their hiring but it might be worth a try. The ships also have a few RPSC personnel, typically a couple Marine Techs (MT), maybe a Marine Science Tech (MST) or two, an Electronics Technician (ET), a Marine Projects Coordinator (MPC), and an IT person or two. The NBP typically has about twice the crew as the Gould but it changes depending on the purpose of the cruise. *You do indeed get to see a lot more when working on the ships.* The penalty, as you probably know, is that the hours are very long. For RPSC personnel, shipboard hours are 12×7 with no days off. It’s a rough gig. For readers wondering what each of the RPSC positions does, here’s a synopsis:

    MT – Involved in all aspects of “back-deck” operations. Must be a sailing jack-off-all-trades: welder, carpenter, skidoo driver, outdoor survival trainer, stevedore, cargo ops, etc, etc. These guys work their butts off, even more that other crew.

    MST – Sort of a floating lab-manager. Helps with grantee projects, setting up the labs, providing and disposing of chemicals and lab wastes, assisting in research. Typically biology-oriented.

    MPC – The admin-coordinator. Sounds easy but it’s a very tough job, they need to be capable of doing almost anything required and understanding how ships work. Typically only the most experienced marine personnel go for this.

    IT – Same computer work as elsewhere, just at sea.

    ET – Typical electronics tech work, with some quirky instrumentation, computer, and marine equipment problems thrown in. Computer and electrician experience very helpful.

    Good luck!



    hi glenn,
    thanks for the info!
    you said you just got off the NBP, how long was your deployment? what work did you do on there?
    which ship did you like better?
    thanks for your help! i’m not sure if i want to get u/w again right now, but its nice to know. we sailed with a swedish icebreaker “The Oden” a couple of years ago and that was a nice ship!
    oh, how is the food, are the cooks any good?
    talk to ya soon,


    Damn, Glenn – I thought you had died (or moved to Montana).  Haven’t seen you post in quite a while.  Have a good cruise?  You’re not the one that started the fire, are you???  I told you not to try and roast marshmallows on the fan tail…
    Life in McMurdo is great.  Bright sun, clear skies, calm winds, and beautiful women.  Ahhh…  Might just take my portable margarita-maker down to Hut Point this afternoon.
    When you coming back down this way?
    Kristina —  The Oden was here just last Dec/Feb.  It’s a beautiful, and CLEAN, ship.  Nice folks onboard, too.


    hi Kristina,

    > you said you just got off the NBP, how long was your
    > deployment? what work did you do on there?

    It was a long cruise, two months. I was a network admin (IT).

    > which ship did you like better?

    I’ll probably get slapped for answering this one… I like the NBP better, although there are pros/cons to both ships. The NBP is bigger and much more stable. There is also more variety of science and personnel on board, and because it’s a full ice breaker it can go to some very remote areas — as we did on this past cruise.

    The Gould is ice-hardened but not an actual breaker, and it tends to avoid places where it might get stuck. It’s also smaller and has a funny slippy motion in the water, so seasickness is an issue for a lot of people (I just take lots of drugs until I’m stupefied to the point of non-sickness). On the plus-side, it services the Peninsula area of the continent and Palmer Station, it’s all very picturesque. For wildlife it’s also a “target-rich” environment.

    > a swedish icebreaker “The Oden” a couple of years ago

    The Oden is coming back down to the Ice again this year.

    > oh, how is the food, are the cooks any good?

    Mixed bag. Some good cooks, some so-so. The station food is usually better than the ship’s food for a variety of reasons.

    Hi Atlas…

    > Damn, Glenn – I thought you had died (or moved to
    > Montana). Haven’t seen you post in quite a while.

    No internet on the ship. Mostly true.

    > Have a good cruise?

    Oral surgery might have been more fun.

    > You’re not the one that started the fire, are you???

    No, but it happened in the biolab next to the LAN office. Most of the main deck flooded with soot, and everything with a fan in it (think: computers) sucked it in too. I now know the insides of virtually every computer, printer, and server on that ship, down to the component level.

    > Life in McMurdo is great. … When you coming back down this way?

    I might just have to come down there and hassle you soon. Better have one of those margaritas ready…



    Kristina, As the others said, you will see enough to awe you at first, but it can get a little mundane after awhile. There are regular trips to Cape Evans available. The problem is the sign up sheets fill up pretty quick. The secret is if you miss the signups then show up with all your gear anyway. As often as not, the people who signed up are no shows and there is space for standby’s.
    McM is cold for the first month or so and many really don’t get out very much. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around the weather becomes rather pleasant on a windless sunny day. The old standby hike is to the top of OB hill where the crew of Robert Scotts expedition erected a cross when he died on his way to pole in the early 1900’s.
    The other classic hike is the Castle Rock trail. It leaves MCM and crosses a small glaciel/ice field to an old volcanic feature you can climb. The route continues down a slope and back to town by way of Scott base (New Zealand).  It’s a full day trip to do the whole thing. Many ski it. Great views of the plume from Mount Erebus can be seen from most of the trail on a clear day .
    the Cape Armitage loop is a trail on the sea ice from MCM to Scott base. You can walk the road back or take the Scott base shuttle.
    The snow roads to the Airfields are open to hiking and skiing during the time of year that shuttles run.
    There are two new trails
    the first is the ridge trail and is about 3 miles long. It follows a ridgeline to the north of town and ends at arrival heights. You take a road back to town.
    The other (and my favorite) is a just under 3 mile hike around the base of OB hill. In the summer you get views of  White and Black Islands, The transantarctics and mount Discovery. There are often seals and sometime penguins in the distance.
    So there is plenty to see and so. Penguins and seals often come to the outskirts of town. Once the ice melts we often get whales in the harbor as well. If you wait for someone to say there are animals and then go out you will miss them. Best to go for a hike everyday and be there when they come in.
    It’s easy to come and never get out. That will be your challenge. Be active and the chances of seeing wildlife increase.
    Glenn good to see you back home. Dont’ forget to stop and see us if you come through Northern Cal. Are you in Washington?

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