Departure Day +7

In 7 days my Heard Island adventure will become a reality!

The first leg of the trip is comparatively easy –  I just need to board a Virgin Australia flight heading west to Perth and eventually through to Cape Town where I’ll join an advance group from the Expedition Team.  This will provide me a chance to catch up on some overdue sleep!

For me it’s been 18 months since I signed on to this expedition, for others this has been a 5 year project and now we are at the sharp end, this is where planning and logistics lose out to real ADVENTURE !!

The past 12 months have been all about-

Risk Management Planning – how do you assess the risk of being on one of the most remote islands in the world?

Scientific projects for non-scientists. How do I as an accountant and project manager fit into an extensive programme of environmental science? Collecting specimens on Heard Island is no easy task, it rains, more than a lot, and the winds will regularly exceed 100 kmph.   Preparing equipment and projects that can be completed in these conditions is a HUGE challenge and one I looking forward to.

 2016-03-01 20.04.37Obtaining permits to land on the island has been a big piece of work that I’ve only been involved in at the fringe.  Heard Island is a territory of Australia and administered by the Australia Antarctica Division (AAD). They control the fine line between “approved access” and “no access”,  and as frustrating as it’s been it’s a relief to know that Heard Island is so well monitored.   (that’s a blog post in itself and is a few days away).

HI_Equipment-1030726Locating equipment. I expected that having already been involved in some high altitude alpine climbing I would be well equipped. But NO!!!    AAD permit conditions required new outer layer clothing to prevent seeds slipping into Heard Island via pockets and unknown crevices of boots, clothing and packs.   Thanks to Kathmandu for assisting with new clothing – it’s really appreciated!

Purchasing a drone to get to those hard to access areas of the island. And here it’s thanks to the team at SwellPro for providing a waterproof splash drone. My pilot skills are “basic” at best and I can foresee a number of water landings being achieved on the island.

Coordinating an Island to School Outreach Programme
With 2 NZ schools, Wellesley College (Wellington) and Merrilands School (New Plymouth) working with me I have the opportunity to engage with 2 classroom groups on different aspects of the Heard Island experience.   One class has tasked me to provide information from Heard Island about Penguins and the other is interested in the Plastic Debris survey that we are undertaking.

And to make it REAL we are arranging an “Island to Classroom” phone call.

So with 7 days to go what’s left for me to achieve –

  • Preparing a replacement Will – a sobering thought and it should be a simple task but it never seems to get to the top of the list!
  • Put the final touches on plans for getting photos and blog stories back to the outside world
  • Obtain the necessary medications to keep me safe from from sea sickness to any type of infection I’m likely to encounter.
  • Complete the gear cleaning and finish packing

So with 7 days to go the pressure is on the close out the “To Do List” and be at Sydney International airport at 5.30pm on Friday.  It’s going to happen!!

 

Gavin

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