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In convoy with Fin whales
Chris Harris
03/11/2011, South Atlantic Oceam

Over half way!

We had rolly but fair sailing conditions for the last day or so with breeze up to 25 knots from dead astern. We were sailing with a reefed main out to one side and the yankee poled out on the other side (butterfly rig) which is used to present the maximum sail area possible to the wind. We do not carry any special light weather downwind sails such as a spinnaker as in our usual sailing area we don't expect much downwind sailing and very little light wind sailing.

Last night the swell built up to two or three metres, just enough to give the boat a little push as they lift the stern and we were regularly hitting 10 knots, if only for seconds at a time.

The wind died in the early hours of this morning and when I came watch at 3am it was time to furl the yankee and take down the pole, and start the motor. We have been motoring ever since and now have no wind across the deck with the temperature at about 15 degrees Centigrade it is very pleasant.

As pleasant as it is right now I lit the Refleks heater last night for the first time on this trip. The Refleks heater (or something similar) is a vital part of any high latitude sailing vessel. It is a Danish brand originally designed for fishing boats and is very simple; a carburettor regulates the flow of diesel fuel into a burner pot. It is primarily a space heater but we also cook on ours and it is great for making toast. Our Refleks sits in a stainless steel pan which is also a drip tray for the foul-weather clothing drying rail located behind it - we rarely have to put on cold and wet foulies on this boat.

On top of the Refleks sits our Ecofan a remarkable Canadian invention. It was originally designed to sit on the top of wood burning room heaters to push the air around the room avoiding hot and cold spots. It is an electric fan powered via something known as the Peltier effect. Basically you make one side of a semiconductor hot (the side that sits on the stove) and the other side cold (via an air cooled heat sink); the semiconductor generates electricity which turns a fairly big coarse pitch fan blade which pushes air around the cabin. My description doesn't do the fan justice so if you want to know more check them out online, just search for Ecofan.

We have just had the company of a few fin whales for 30 minutes or so. They kept station on us and checked us out from both sides before heading to wherever it is that fin whales head off to at this time of year.

There are plenty of albatross around, for the last couple of days they were mostly immature black browed, but today we are seeing more wanderers and royals. All the other usual suspects are present including various prions, storm petrels, cape petrels, Antarctic petrels, and fulmars. We have the occasional company of dusky dolphins who come to ride the bow wave.

Dylan and Tom have been learning the ropes (really they have !), Tom cooked a very respectable macaroni cheese last night. I think Dylan was a bit dismayed at having to take a turn at cooking but Dave has taken him under his wing and we are having steak and potato wedges tonight. Dave was concerned that Dylan might have been going to cook pasta again and Dave being a carnivore he had to step in and provide some guidance on proper food.

That's all folks.

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03/11/2011 | Sally Ellis
Loving the updates - keep them coming! Didnt know Tom could cook - he may regret having that broadcast. PA arrived this a.m. and beers chilling in the conservatory fridge for a wee reunion. ETA?
07/11/2011 | Jon Amtrup
Hi Chris,
Love your updates, and I would like to do an article on TheSailBlog about your Ecofan. Can you send a picture and I'll use a quote from your blog. Please feel free to contribute to also.

Keep sailing.
All the best, Jon
The nippers' perspective
Dylan Stephenson & Tom Elsby
02/11/2011, South Atlantic Oceam

Tom and I joined the boat in Piriapolis a few days before setting off to the Falklands. In these first few days we learnt how to service the winches, probably painstakingly slowly in Chris' eyes! Having never lived on a yacht before it was a new experience, but one which we both enjoyed. Chris, Dave and Magnus have all made us both feel at home on the boat and have been eager to teach us anything to do with sailing,

The night before we were due to set off Tom and I donned seasickness patches and got an early night, in preparation for an early start to get everything sorted and ready to sail. True to the warnings on the packet, the seasick patches had rather strange effects, not so much with me, but Tom became temporarily longsighted, with drowsiness affecting us both!

Now we are on Day 4 of the journey, and the weather has been surprisingly favourable, with nothing above 25 knots in the way of wind speed. Adjusting to the watch system was something of a shock to the system, but fairly easy to become accustomed to, although sleeping for five hours in the middle of the afternoon is still strange!

With the wind now more behind us the boat is rolling considerably more, with Tom and I getting steadily more used to walking around on a constantly changing angle. Something which fascinated the both of us were the phosphorescent plankton-like creatures which, when disturbed by the following dolphins make it look as if green torpedoes are shooting through the water.

So far, the rest of the crew have been teaching us no end of sailing tips, including just basic sailing tactics. Tom and I have helped with a few tacks and a gybe, polishing the stainless steel and have also tried figuring out the radar, sonar system. Both of us have now had a few hours driving the boat, both in daylight and the middle of the night. This we found pretty simple, but now with the waves behind us and slightly larger, it will be harder to keep the boat as steady as before.

All in all, so far Tom and I are thoroughly enjoying our first ever proper sailing trip, and are finding the crew extremely hospitable and keen to teach.

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02/11/2011 | Ale
And I had supposed that living in an island would make you all good sailors! LOL
02/11/2011 | Zac
Good to see you are enjoying the trip, i've been checking where you are every day. You sure tom's contacts never fell out, it does happen from time to time. looks like you will be getting pretty fair weather for most of the way. Jessica is here and say's Hi, i'm rolling over really quick now X
03/11/2011 | Bernadette and Barry
Good to heear from Tom and Dylan.
We are really sorry about the rolling down wind but we did warn you before you set off - told you you should have gone on a cat and not a monohull!!
Piriapolis to Stanley Day 2
31/10/2011, South Atlantic Oceam

31/10/2011 Position,36,55S, 55,43 W (Off the coast of Argentina heading South for Stanley, Falkland Islands) Magnus writing

Leaving any port after a long stay can be hard work and as with all boat based work everything takes about three times as long as it ought. That said Chris and Dave had the boat very well organised by the time I arrived a little frazzled but keen to get going after the long flights from UK. Several shopping trips for supermarket goods and engine oil and other last minute essentials were needed but there were no major dramas and everything seems easily available. We stumbled along in our best 'Spanglish' at the weekly produce market and managed to purchase everything on the list and nothing that wasn't.

Another aspect of leaving one country for another or even one port for another especially in South America is checking out. Numerous offices have to be visited and numerous papers obtained and stamped and signed by numerous official gentlemen in a variety of uniforms. All this has to be performed in the correct order, in a good humour and at the correct time of day. If only the various officials would agree on the order required life would be so much simpler.

Uruguay or the little I got to see of it seems to combine the best of the seven South American countries I have visited like a more relaxed Brazil or a better organised Equador!

On board for the delivery down to Stanley we have Chris Harris, skipper and engineer extraordinaire, myself as mate for the season, Dave Roberts nipper on Pelagic Australis and allround good guy and Dylan and Tom, a pair of likely lads from Stanley who fancied an adventure as crew.

On Saturday evening, the night before departure we decided on a quiet night onboard and sent the lads off with all our remaining Uruguayan cash to invest in as much Pizza as they could. Pizza in Uruguay is purchased by the meter through some system I failed to entirely understand but Dylan and Tom seemed to have mastered it returning some time later with miles of the stuff in a range of different flavour combos. Far to much to eat in one sitting but perfect food for a first day at sea as it turned out!

Sunday morning saw us up at six for a quick cup of tea and then all hands on deck to release the mighty Pelagic from the ropes binding her to the land. It's always good to feel a boat come alive as she starts to move again on the open sea and this time was no exception. The bay of the River Plate which Piriapolis lies on the North side of is perhaps 150 miles across and a similar distance deep and in all that area it is rarely deeper than 20 meters meaning a short steep choppy sea immediately outside the harbour. We rushed to get the fenders and lines down through the forehatch before we took a wet one over the deck and nearly made it, Dylan getting a cold wake up call down the back of his neck as he stowed everything below. I think his early morning adventures in the bouncing forepeak left Dylan a little seasick as he was quieter than normal for an hour or two but we knew he was back on his feet when we saw him reaching for his cigarettes and by dinner time he wolfed down his sausages and mash.

Now we are into our second day, the sun is out, the sky is blue and the swells have lengthened out so that lying in your bunk is like being gently rocked in your cradle as a baby. The wind is so light we are forced to motor but a boat is always a busy place and there is fantastic wildlife to watch during lulls in activity. In one view this morning I could see penguins, seals, two types of albatross numerous other sea birds. Long may it last.

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Ready for the off
Chris Harris
26/10/2011, Piriapolis, Uruguay

Piriapolis 26 October 2011

Pelagic is about to head south to begin another season. I left Pelagic on the hard in Piriapolis for the winter back in June and have spent most of the winter refitting 'Pelagic Australis' in Cape Town, and delivering her back to the Falklands where her, newly married, crew Miles, and Laura, Wise took over and have begun their season already with a trip to South Georgia. I flew from the Falklands to Uruguay on the 8/9th of October. Dave Roberts (usually the regular nipper on Pelagic Australis) joined me after a week and the two of us have been working on Pelagic since then. We tidied up some final painting jobs, touched up the anti-fouling, had the topsides polished and put on a new Pelagic logo and name. We got her back in the water last Friday and have been re-commissioning the systems since.

We have a new high power fish-finder/sonar from our sponsors Raymarine for this season so have installed the transducer and temporarily hooked it up to our E80 chart plotter, so now we'll have a nice clear image of the seabed beneath Pelagic rather than just a display giving the depth in meters. We have more goodies from Raymarine to install in Stanley including, a new high-definition digital radar, and the latest touch screen multifunction display.

The plan is to sail from Piriapolis to Stanley departing sometime this coming weekend; exactly when depends on a weather system blowing through as we have a Pampero blowing now which is going to morph into a southerly on Friday night.

The crew for this trip to Stanley will be; myself (Chris Harris), Magnus Day, Dave Roberts, Dylan Stephenson, Tom Elsby. The first three of us are all "Pelagic Expeditions" old hands but this will be Dylan and Tom's first experience of an ocean voyage; we'll keep you updated on how it goes for them. Dylan and Tom are both young lads from the Falklands so have flown up to join us here jsut for this trip.

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20/04/2011, South Atlantic Oceam

Piriapolis greeted us yesterday afternoon with some very very wet rain! The marina was quite full when we arrived so we ended up alongside the Prefectura office against a wall in a shallow berth, thanks for a lifting keel and rudder. After signing in we went for a steak and beer - traditional arrival meal in a Southern South American port! Seb ordered something called a Finio which was a huge plate of chips, steak, russian salad, green salad, topped with a fried egg.

This morning we have to go to Punta del Este to clear immigration and a couple of other offices to sign in with the Prefectura and Aduana.

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Gossamer Rigging
19/04/2011, South Atlantic Oceam

Better progress. We are still sailing in quite light winds mainly from ahead but with smoother seas it is possible to sail closer to the wind and we have covered some good miles over the last few days.

We will be crossing the River Plate tonight and tomorrow but with Piriapolis laying directly upwind of the forecast breeze it will be a slow crossing.

All day yesterday there was a brownish tinge on the North Western horizon caused by the dust and pollution in air from the land, probably mainly dust from the Pampa.

The temperature on deck yesterday evening was close to 20 degrees Centigrade and we sat on deck with after dinner coffee and watched a beautiful synchronised sunset and moonrise.

As we shook out a reef about 1am this morning at a change of watch I shone my headlamp up the rig to check the halyard tension and was surprised to see that the whole rig was covered in shimmering streamers of what looked like spider silk. I assume that we had run through a cloud of some kind on inset that was traveling on silken parachutes. Whatever the stuff is it's pretty tenacious as the shrouds are still flying lots of thin silver streamers this morning.

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Port: Stanley, Falkland Islands
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