Ole Martin at Jan Mayen
Jan Mayen is a strange place to live on. We are only 18 people on this island, everybody lives and works together. We live in separate rooms, these are approx 15 sq.m (161 sq.feet), we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, almost everything is in one station building. We never get to travel to the mainland, unless of course you get really ill or something. I got to go home for two weeks in January, because of an inflammation in a molar (rear tooth). Else, we stay here for 6 or 12 months. If we are lucky, we might get visitors for 3 hours if supply airplanes have available cargo space. As I stay for 12 months, I will get a 9 day visit in the overlap period when we switch crews.
So, what do I do here? Well, I work a lot. My job function is to serve, repair and do maintenance work on all electronic equipment. The Loran C radionavigational transmitter is our primary focus, but we do also have a remote controlled coastal radio station that needs repair and maintenance. This station is controlled by Bodø Radio, and transmits on VHF ch 16/60, and MF 2182/1743/DSC. From April 1st I start working as chief of electronics crew, with more personal responsibilities, writing reports, planning maintenance and managing the airport as new tasks.
I really love the work, I am the kind of guy who like to know how stuff works. I like building things, making things work, finding errors and stuff, it is like a puzzle - and we sometimes has some rather strange errors. Working with check lists is ok, but I actually like the challenge of plowing into blueprints and tracing errors. We work in two shifts, from 0730-1600UTC and 1600-2300UTC. (Norway: add 1 hour). The one with the evening shift also is on stand by alert during nighttime. Sometimes our pager beeps in the middle of the night, and we have to start working. We have pagers with different error codes, alerting us with everything from phone calls to fire alarms and transmitter errors.

I recently made myself a list of things I miss and look forward to do when I get back to the mainland. Some are of course private, but here are some of the items on my list:

  • Be together with my friends back home
  • More privacy
  • Go in shops
  • Cook
  • Eating cream puffs (Norw:vannbakkels) in the confectioner's shop (Tiramisu cake too!)
  • Swimming and scuba diving
  • Buying a fancy suit and tails
  • Going to the cinema
  • See trees
  • Eat fresh fruit every day (if I want to)
  • Visiting people and having visitors
Despite the isolation, every day if I am outside, I stop, look around and say to myself: “What an adventure!” - it is an adventure! Not many people get to travel here, even if you are a millionaire it is difficult getting here. There are no commercial transports here, only the Norwegian Coastguard and the Royal Norwegian Airforce comes here with supplies and crew. I guess you have looked at the pictures, and when you like hiking like me, this is an extremely nice place to be, volcanic rocks and crazy formations everywhere.
My job is, as I already wrote, really interesting! I have a M.Sc. degree in Engineering Cybernetics with radionavigation as my specialty, so working at the Loran station is just about perfect. I'll only stay here for one year, as this is the maximum time here without leave. Some people come back many times, I'm not sure whether I'll reapply sometime or not.