time by now, I didn‘t have to go through the initiation for crossing the Dateline or the Equator, which I didn‘t mind missing at all. On the Westwind we had stopped at Christchurch N.Z. and I never got past the Navy support base there. Visiting Wellington was just a fantastic experience. The people were very nice, the bars and restaurants very pleasant to go to and I made several friends. I remember us staying there for approximately one week and I truly think that was one of many highlights of the trip.
Then we left for the ice and the routine was pretty much the same as my previous trip on the Westwind. Rendezvous with a cargo ship, escort it through the outer ice pack, break a channel into Winter Quarters Bay, ramming ice day in and day out. I seem to recall some good storms when we were in open water, also.
One night after getting off the 8-midnight watch I was spending some time in the AG (Aerographer, or Weather) Shop and around 2AM or so we heard one heck of a mechanical crunch and the ship came to a dead stop. My friends and I looked at each other and knew ―this can‘t be good‖. Turns out the thick ice had broken one of the three blades of one of our props. It was on my watch the next day that we sent out the message saying we needed to go to drydock and it would take 3 days to repair if I remember correctly.
We made our way slowly back to Wellington (!) and got put into drydock and commenced life in port. I was allowed several days leave so headed in to the city and stayed with my friends. What an enjoyable time that broken prop provided us. Oh, we were there slightly longer than 3 days.
After repairs had been completed we headed back to the ice and resumed our icebreaking, ship escorting duties.
After several months of that our duties came to an end and it was time to head home. Except that we received a call for help to aid in resupplying the Australian research station as the M/V Thala Dan could not make it through the ice to them. There was no way an airplane could land to pull the people out and no way the Thala Dan could make it any further in, so the situation was pretty critical. We headed around the continent and in the Radio Room we had one heck of a time trying to keep our local clocks accurate for the right time zone! It was interesting to me that we were helping the Thala Dan because the previous year on the Westwind we had helped the M/V Magda Dan, a tourist ship that had run aground.
In any event, we, with the use of our LCVP landing craft and our helicopter, managed to get all the supplies off the ship and delivered to the research station and then escort the ship out of the icepack. The accomplishments of these tasks provided a great feeling, in that we were doing what the Coast Guard does – aid and assist folks in trouble.
Our next job involved building a satellite tracking station on Heard Island and we stayed there a few days doing that. The one memory I have was our attempt to take on fresh water using our fire hoses running from the ship to island streams. But giant sea lions chewing through the hoses put an end to that, so we continued with our fresh water shortages. (No laundry, sea showers of 2 minutes or less, etc.) Some of the guys tied their clothes into the cotton ditty bags we all had and towed them behind the ship, to show us how it was done in the ―Old Guard‖. One nameless RD1 had the rope part and he lost all his clothes – ending that little experiment.
After leaving Heard Island we went to Perth, on the east side of Australia, on the Indian Ocean, for what I believe was 7 days. One of the chronic issues on the ship was the lack of freshwater for