Here at Macca, we have experienced the full gamut of Macquarie Island winds in the past seven days.
The week started with extremely light winds at around six knots, which finally gave us a window to undertake maintenance on our inflatable rubber boat (IRB) fleet. A busy roster of volunteers put into action all of the skills that we learned in back in Australia during training, and we stripped, cleaned and reassembled the boats so that they are now ready and awaiting some brilliant boating weather.
Then, the wind changed.
The past four days have seen maximum winds over 50 knots, with today’s maximum exceeding 70 knots. The winds have been accompanied by large seas ranging from four to eight metres, and the outcome has been spectacular. The southern ocean was whipped into a frenzy, and looked like a cauldron of boiling froth. Over a few days we have had waves washing over the isthmus, dumping rocks, kelp, and elephant seals all over the road. Our buildings on the west side have been blasted with breaking wave spray, thrown by the wind high into the air and across station, and layers of salt are starting to appear on the desks of those with offices with west facing windows. Presently the LARCS are still holding down the helipads, although it may all need to be dug out from under the sand if these seas continue.
Winds lashing station on Sunday night blew off the boat shed doors — typical, we had just cleaned the boats — and the tall radio mast of the IPS project collapsed into a twisted pile in the tussock.
The seas pounding the coast have also caused concern for heritage sites on West Beach, where a digester site is located. Ranger Andrea has had a close eye on this over the past few days, but little can be done whilst the big seas continue.
With the weather making outside activities a little challenging, expeditioners seized the opportunity to have a get together, hosting a Sunday afternoon tea party soiree for Duncan’s birthday. We were treated to chocolate cake prepared by the rangers — Chef Justin was having 'R&R' at Brothers Point – with cake by Anna, ganache by Andrea, accompanied by a lovely selection of tea, followed by card games.
We are now awaiting the weather to abate so that we may embark upon this month’s marine debris surveys.