How Ukrainian Polar Explorers Celebrated Midwinter 2021

How Ukrainian Polar Explorers Celebrated Midwinter 2021

Several days ago, the 26th Ukrainian Antarctic Expedition celebrated at Akademik Vernadsky station the main holiday of all polar explorers – Midwinter. This year the team had bad weather – it was cloudy outside, strong wind, blizzard, the station was constantly covered with snow, and the water area was covered with ice.Because of this, outdoor competitions, including football and orienteering, had to be canceled. But the winterers plan to hold them as soon the weather improves.

However, even the terrible weather could not change the main custom, which is “initiation” into real polar explorers – swimming in the ocean. So, having warmed up well by cleaning the snow and waiting for the “window” between the blizzards, the whole team quickly in turn dived into the icy water (at this time, its temperature is about -1.5 degrees, however, due to the high salinity of the Southern Ocean, the water does not freeze with such a “minus”).

Some winterers made special swimming suits, for example, the base commander Bogdan Gavrylyuk, for whom it was already the ninth Midwinter at the station, turned into a pirate.
Furthermore, men have dived in ties, which is also a tradition.

By the way, breakfast from the base commander helped the polar explorers to gain strength before the “initiation” in the icy water. According to British custom, once a year – on Midwinter – each participant orders his favorite dish for breakfast to the head of the expedition. With the help of assistants, Bogdan managed to fulfill all the whims, among which there were various pancakes, omelets and so on.

Although the outdoor competitions did not work out this time, a number of championships took place inside the station. They usually start a few days before Midwinter, and during the holiday the winners are determined and awarded. In the 26th UAE, the newcomers were lucky: diesel operator Oleksandr Knyzhatko won the championship in billiards, geophysicist Yan Bakhmat beat everyone in darts, and mechanic Oleksandr Mylashevskyi became the best in mini-golf and pull-ups. They all winter in Antarctica for the first time. Although the chess tournament is not over yet, so it is quite possible that this victory will go to some of veteran winterers.

The holiday ended, as it should be, with a solemn delicious dinner, the presentation of certificates of “real polar explorers” and awards to the winners and the most active participants of the competition.

We congratulate our winterers and wish them good weather!

We thank the 26th UAE for sharing information and photos, in particular, thaks to Oksana Savenko, Oleksandr Nadtochii and Vadym Tkachenko.