Sunday, February 15, 2015


15 Februrary 2015: OK - I know we're all whining and complaining about how bloody cold it is - and before you get all spun up, let me quickly add that, yes, it IS cold unless, of course, you happen to be in the 10% of the United States that is not experiencing the current "polar vortex" (when I was a kid, we called that "winter"). This morning in Washington DC it was 7 degrees with a windchill of probably around -400! And the Boston area just got socked with another foot of snow, giving those lucky folks something on the order of 7' in 3 weeks! My sympathies, friends! And for those of you who know about me, let me hasten to add that I am NOT currently at my winter home, but here shivering in the Northeast. So having said all of that, let me highlight a story, current over the past few days, about some REAL cold! And yes, it IS in Antarctica.... but it is summer there, right?
On Tuesday of this week past, the U.S. Coast Guard dispatched its ONLY heavy duty icebreaker into the Antarctic ice to rescue an Australian flagged fishing boat that got caught in the ice and damaged its propeller in the process.
Antarctic Chieftan - 26 people aboard

This ice breaker, the Polar Star has had to break through several hundred miles of 9 foot thick ice, and through blizzard snow with 35 MPH winds. They reached the stricken fishing boat on Friday.
            This would be the view from the bridge of the ice breaker!
When they did reach the boat,they sent an unmanned submersible down to examine the ship's propellers, and after determining they were too damaged to be of use, took the fishing vessel in tow. (Imagine doing that with SCUBA and even a dry suit!)

Captain Matthew Walker, commanding officer of the Polar Star, stated they would tow the vessel clear of the ice, and then turn it over to a New Zealand fishing boat, Janas, to tow her to the nearest safe harbor. Walker also mentioned the conditions were more formidable than expected! I'll bet they were!

Interestingly, the stricken vessel was fishing for Antarctic Toothfish, usually marketed in North America as Chilean Sea Bass. Now you can understand why it might be a bit more expensive than Cod or Mackerel!

So, thanks to the Coast Guard, once again, for being there and living up to their motto: Semper Paratus (always prepared). And stop complaining about how miserable this weather is - at least we know it will end at some point! Down there, not so much!

                               Fair Winds,
                                   Old Salt

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