Transcript for The Voyage of the Lee, segment 08 of 21


As the cruise continues, the Lee's schedule calls for the two hundred and ten foot vessel to proceed almost due south to New Zealand to put into Christchurch in December prior to jumping off to the Antarctic. The hundred or so scientists working on Deep Sweep are divided into groups, and with each port stop units of these men and women change over, new units coming onboard to replace those who have completed experiments and research in their selected fields.

As the Lee works off Wilkes Land in the Antarctic, one of these replacement teams has arrived by plane in New Zealand to begin the arduous task of preparing to rendezvous with the vessel. After twenty-four hours of flying from San Francisco, the replacement team of eighteen scientists and technicians is told to prepare to leave within twelve hours.

So what we'll be doing, once you're dressed - we'll be getting you to, putting you onto the truck, and we'll take that to the entrance to the passenger receiving center. Now from here the building is just behind us.

A Navy Hercules C one thirty equipped with skis waits on the cold runway at Christchurch while the team begins receiving special clothing and survival gear. Scientists are told to leave their civilian suitcases at the hangar, that the only clothing they will need to wear is the material they are being issued. They are told to expect harsh climate, one that can change rapidly and that can seem dangerously deceptive from the comfort of the McMurdo barracks. Frostbite, they are warned, is as constant threat.

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The Antarctic two group, as it is called, the Ross C contingent, boards the Hercules at ten a. m. Sunday, January twenty-ninth. The eight-and-a-half-hour trip to the bottom of the world is held up by poor weather conditions. This is no luxury flight. Simple box lunches are issued to the passengers who sit on crates of equipment. There are no restrooms. The scientists are told that the plane's cabin heater will be turned off in route to insure that survival gear will be worn by all members of the party in the event that the Hercules has to ditch. Half of that torturous flight is spent in freezing temperatures. It is as cold inside the cabin as it is on the icy subcontinent of Antarctica twenty thousand feet below. Passengers discover that anything placed on the floor of the cabin, from film rolls to soft drinks, freezes within minutes. The eight-and-a-half hours to McMurdo do not pass quickly.

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