Diving, Cutting the Hole
Paul Ward - 1985-86 - Signy Island - Antarcticans Database Project - more

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Diving, Cutting the Hole

One of the main problems with diving in Antarctica in the winter in particular is the difficulty of access to open water. There's plenty of sea around, it just has this big lid of ice on it. When it's up to about half a meter (16 inches) thick a chainsaw with a particularly long ice-blade is the easiest way to get through it. All is well until you break through to the sea when you get showered with icy cold water for your efforts!

The approach is to cut out a big square, each side being about 1m (3 feet) or more, this floats when free at the same level it before it was cut free. The next thing is to cut this single piece into 4 equal sized blocks. If the ice isn't too thick and these pieces aren't too heavy, they can be lifted out of the water to keep them out of the way. If the ice is thick enough for these blocks to be very heavy, the technique is to push them under the water and to one side using a strong pole. As they will try to float, but are unable to, they will sit stuck up against the ice out of the way.

Photo; © Paul Ward