Snowmobile and Sea Ice Training

For the past couple of days, I've been in training - snowmobile and sea ice training this time. It's fantastic being back in school again. I'm learning so many new skills for this expedition. If you've been following my journals you know our team will be working with Weddell seals on the Ross Sea ice shelf - and not just anyone can go out there. It can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. So the United States Antarctic Program has put together some specialized training programs. Again the theme is all about SAFETY and being PREPARED!

Snowmobile Training

I couldn't wait for this training to begin because I've never ridden on a snowmobile!

Andy, our instructor, taught us the ins and outs of the snowmobile. Some of the things were basic - like how to start the machine, understanding the gauges and switches, and simple things to check for - like missing or loose parts.

Manually starting the snowmobile
Manually starting the snowmobile.

We also learned how to loosen the snowmobile from the snow by rocking it from side to side. Why do we do this, you ask? Because sometimes the skis freeze to the ice and you don't want start moving if the machine is frozen to the ice shelf. I wasn't sure if I could 'rock' such a large machine - but it wasn't as hard as it looked.

Rocking the snowmobile
Practicing 'breaking the ice' by rocking the snowmobile sideways.

Now that we had the basics down, it was time for the more challenging part of the class - what to do when common problems occur. During this time we had to check the fan, check and change the spark plugs, and replace the drive belt. The last task proved most difficult for me. I final got it but made a mess of myself in the process.

Checking under the hood
What do we have here? Checking under the hood.

Struggling with the belt
Struggling with the drive belt! The instructor made it look so easy!

Drive belt success!
Drive belt success! I got the drive belt off - but what a mess I've made!

With the 'classroom' training complete, we were now off to the training track. Unfortunately, time went by so quickly and a storm blew in, so I didn't have time for very many pictures.

But we did have to refuel the machines when we got back.

Refueling the snowmobile. Not your typical gas pump but it does the job.

Tomorrow it's Sea Ice training!

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