PO 3 and helicopter ride‏

An important moment has come to an end in Kerguelen. The POs (Port Operations – the time where the Marion Dufresne comes to the different districts,usually for a few days; there are 4-5 rotations a year) are always big events here, synonyms of departures and arrivals. Most people have mitigated feelings: satisfaction to see new faces, fear to feel « invaded » by new people who are about to break the routine (especially at this time of the year because the number of people on base doubles), need to leave to be with kins again, nostalgia of good times spent with
people in this special environment, people we don't feel like leaving behind. Here, we always find like time flies, but it's even more obvious during the PO, when we see for the first time in weeks or months a boat that calls us to reality and forces us to realize that some day we'll have to leave, too! They were obviously people that I didn't want to see go away. And I thank them for the good times spent on base, eventhough they were few of them. I say goodbye to the 11 departing people: Alain, Pierre et Jean-Yves, from the weather forecast service, Yanis and JB, the medical team, Jean-Yves CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and good retirement to you!), Juju and Gillou, 2 guys from the navy, Gat, from Geophy, Christophe, biologist (studying cats), David, staff of the Natural Reserve. We wish them good return among their families, good luck on the boat (I hope none of them will be sick!), and good riddance!
The PO also represents a lot of preparation. Before it, we need to clean and tidy the whole base, which we do during the operation « clean base » (well, at least for people who can wake up 'cause they haven't partied too much, hummm!). There is also the party organized for people who leave. Patrick, the « district's leader » has payed tribute to the people who were about to leave Kerguelen in an original and moving way, I think. The concert at the greenhouse during the rest of the evening was really nice (thanks guys, you were great!). During the PO, there is some coaching to do (each person being the coach of one or few people to welcome them when they're dropped off by helicopter, and help them if they have any questions), the housekeeping chores, the turns at the DZ (Drop Zone) to help unload the equipment and people coming by helicopter from the Marion Dufresne, the transfer of instructions for some people, the welcome drinks
and a few parties as well (so people who leave can say goodbye in a good atmosphere and so new people understand how we do it here...!). And finally, there is also the mail we can only receive at each stopover of the boat. I'm taking advantage of this post to thank all of the people who have thought about me and send me nice presents for Christmas and New Year (however, a message: I'm not depressed here, I swear, there is no need to send me hundreds of chocolate bars!!!). Anyway, part of this food was used to make Christmas and New Year's dinners more pleasant, as well as some meals in Cape Cotter (and it's not over, I still have some more for other field sessions!)!! It was delicious, thank you so much! And it's always pleasant to get new things to read and movies to watch! So to sum up, a PO is a lot of effervescence. We try to finish everything we need to in a short amount of time and people run all the time.
With this PO, we entered a new period of the year, busier. People staying only a few weeks or months during the summer period (PhD students, researchers, foreign contributors...) come at this time of the year (the more favorable as far as weather and wildlife go) to take part in a lot of different research programmes. Charly Bost, my boss, the researcher who hired me in Chizé, and his colleague Yves Handrich, from Strasbourg, arrived at this PO and will spend most of their time with Thibaut and I in Cape Cotter. Usually, people are supposed to wait 'til the end of the OP to be able to go back to the field. We, however, have obtained a dispensation from the district's leader to leave early since we have a lot of work to do in a short period of time (3 weeks only until the next PO during which Charly and Yves will have to leave). We even took advantage of the provision of fresh supplies and maintenance (installation of a solar pannel and few repairs) operations to get dropped off in Cape Cotter by helicopter. That was luxury – instead of an eight-hour transit or more, we arrived in 15 minutes or so! And this also allowed us to bring a lot of fresh food with us and a few extra things since we weren't limited by the weight we could carry any more! We thank the chef for giving us a lot of nice fresh food, especially for Christmas and New Year (the leg of lamb didn't last that long but was delicious, scallops, duck breasts, lots of cheese, butter, eggs, fruits and veggies...). That was just too bad there were clouds during the helicopter ride that day! After waiting all afternoun because the logistic team couldn't not give us the exact time at which we had to leave, and then the fact that our departure that day wasn't certain anymore because of problems that delayed the helicopter (the work that needed to be done in the hut in Cape Cotter took longer than excepted), our departure was a bit precipitate; I couldn't say goodbye to everyone calmly, but I wish I did! So this is my goodbye. 


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People unloading mail during PO3


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Arrival in Cape Cotter from the helicopter (photo: Charly)

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The helicopter during PO3

Kerguelen Cap Cotter PO helicopter mail

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