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Pop goes the weasel
13/11/2013, 64 49.4'S:063 29.7'W, In the fast ice, back bay Port Lockroy

The good ship Pelagic awoke to a strange sound this morning. The VHF radio crackled into life around 7.30 and we heard a foreign voice over the radio. Not that foreign, I think the accent was American, but foreign to our little group, who for the last two weeks has heard only the sound of the same 6 people and the penguins. Ioffe, the first cruise ship to make it into Lockroy this season had arrived, bringing with it the 3 new members of Port Lockroy staff and a boat load of cruise ship tourists. It must be a relief for Helen that the rest of her gang has arrived safely but from our point of view I think we had all become rather used to having the place to ourselves.

The arrival of the cruise ships is in fact the second drastic change to the landscape. Yesterday the ice finally cleared, and when it happened, it happened quickly. Really quickly. Knowing that the ice was getting soft and that our bergy mooring boulders would soon be on the move, Dave and I had broken the golden rule of always leaving one person on the boat and nipped ashore to climb the hill, get some height and try and scout out a new spot. As I mentioned to Dave that you could almost see the ice breaking up as you looked at it, it did just that, a large ice boulder on our starboard bow dislodged, briefly hooked the mooring line making the boat heel over suddenly and headed out to sea at speed. As if a plug had been pulled, all along the shore a fast flowing river opened up, pulling ice of varying sizes with it. The ice sheet in the middle of the bay, including our bergs, appeared to still be intact but there was a bit of a mad scramble to lift the mooring lines over some of the larger chunks of ice getting caught on them. Time to think about moving. By this stage it was now quite breezy and so we upped sticks, pulled in the lines and before heading out tried to dislodge a bit more ice to hasten the process. I think Dave just likes crashing in to things sometimes. Andrew and Ruth were keen to help us find a new spot, and so whilst Dave held us steady by gently driving into the remaining ice sheet, which still stretched as far as the eye could see, I picked the guys up by zodiac. It was as we were planning our next move that we noticed that the ice we were using to steady ourselves was in fact moving. The entire thing was drifting out as one. We made a hasty getaway, sidestepping into the Peltier Channel to allow this massive ice floe past, laving the bay completely bare for us to drive into. Ruth and I scouted out a few rocks we could put wire strops around and managed to find one good one on the western tip of Jougla point. The boys then too k their turn and after a few attempts managed to hammer a large stake into snow just east of our strop. Although it still wasn't actually dark, by now it was now almost midnight and driving snow was making it bitterly cold. We used each mooring point as a bow line and with a steady 30knts blowing form the northeast, we spent a rather peaceful night literally hanging here.

Unfortunately, with nothing to hold us off the land apart from the wind, for once it was actually not a relief when the breeze dropped in the morning. Dave and I watching in slow motion as the wind direction did a complete 180* and we suddenly found ourselves heading into shallow water. Once again we threw off the lines and hasty retreat. It is rather strange to be motoring around open water that just a few days we were trekking across on snow shoes.

All this ice movement has cleared out the back bay right up to the sea ice, so that is our current spot, looking out the starboard side windows towards the base. Once again Dave Ă"made a gap' and for now at least the ice around us is holding. Nice to have a change of scenery after almost a week hanging off icebergs in Lecuyer Point.

Our final bit of news in this rather extended report (it has been an eventful 24hrs) is that Dave didn't sink when he went for his swim yesterday. In fact, that was part of the problem. In his new drysuit we were struggling to put enough lead in his pockets to get him under. I offered to feed him up but he tells me that wouldn't really help as fat floats. Make of that what you will. We eventually got him to sink enough that he could reach the rudder and reattach the line. There was only one slight panic when his regulator froze but luckily it chose to piss air out continuously rather than stop air coming out completely. Once safely back onboard, after a cigarette, changing out of his dry suit and a cup of tea (in that order) Dave admitted that he rather enjoyed the whole experience. Now we just have to stop the water tricking in his neck seal, and obtain a regulator that doesn't freeze in cold weather.

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13/11/2013 | James Annan
Thanks for the updates - I'm enjoying reading your news.

(I'm Helen's little brother)
15/11/2013 | Bertie's Dad
Transat 1 Aymeric BELLOIR 3209.5 nm 2 Justine METTRAUX 3221.2 nm 3 Simon KOSTER Go4it 3225.4 nm-40 still sailing-13dns or abandon
Filming commences
11/11/2013, 64 49.7'S:063 29.8'W, Half a mile from Port Lockroy

I am writing this from an eerily quiet Pelagic. All you can hear is the sounds of ice melting and bubbling away outside the hull, the occasional bump as a piece dislodges and makes it way down the side of the hull, and the dulcet tones of penguins coming back from fishing. Andrew and Ruth are ashore, busy as beavers. Today is not the first day of filming either. Working down here is not as easy as simply stepping off the boat with a Peli-case, setting up the camera and pressing record though. With Pelagic still beset in ice Andrew and Ruth, led by Tudor, had to perform the tricky traverse across the pack ice on snow shoes, how to get the film equipment ashore was another challenge though. Not wanting to carry heavy camera equipment across the ice of varying thicknesses, Tudor and Dave spent a fun afternoon banging stakes into the snow ashore and setting up a zip-wire running from the boom across to the shore. It works surprisingly well, however despite Ruth's insistence that she would be happy to try it out, we stuck to luggage on the zip-wire and people on snow shoes. The breeze has finally come North and so temperatures are noticeably warmer, yesterday the mercury even rose above 0"C. The sun was out, and during the morning there was almost no wind. Dave and I sunbathed on the foredeck in our picnic chairs (a wise investment made in Stanley, paid for themselves by now) drinking tea, watching penguins, putting the world to rights, and trying not to ruin Andrew and Ruth's shots. It's a tough life... Although today is not sunbathing weather, grey and a bit blustery, the northerlies continue and so everything around us melting away. No more traversing the perilous pack ice, it's getting a bit slushy in places, Dave has however managed to clear a lane of water to the shore and so we can now use the zodiac to reach the penguins. Andrew and Ruth seem to be getting on okay, yesterday's rushes look great to the untrained eye and they both seem happy. Helen and Tudor have pretty much moved off the boat and into the Nissen hut at Port Lockroy. Apparently they managed to burn the shoulder of lamb we gave them for dinner last night so we're hoping we might be able to tempt them back with food at some point.

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Fifty Shades of White
Ruth from the film crew
07/11/2013, 64 49.7'S:063 29.8'W, Half a mile from Port Lockroy

Another glorious day at Port Lockroy. Shame we are still trapped in sea ice though - unable to move at all now, or access Goudier Island. The sea ice has completely filled the bay and is blocking the channel, encasing giant icebergs (as well as Pelagic) in its path. Quite a spectacle, even if a little frustrating! Still, the team are making good use of the time; cleared the deck of A LOT of ice and snow after this shot was taken... and fixed a few weather-beaten things around the yacht. The film crew filled the saloon with their kit as they took the still and calm opportunity below deck to sort out cameras and sound gear. Should be good to see the filming progress - they are certainly keen to get out and see the penguins! Up at 4am this morning to check up on sea ice status and watched all the penguins in the area march to the only bit of rock accessible to water. A hungry leopard seal waited below them but sadly we didn't see any predation. Shitehawks (aka sheathbills) are living up to their nick-name, discolouring the deck as usual, and even having a go at our lambs - cheeky birds! We have had to cover them up to protect them and prevent waste. Dinner soon - Bertie's special sausage stew. You can't say we don't eat well on this yacht!! Crossing our fingers for a peaceful night and freedom from the sea ice in the morning. Please do the same for us!

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08/11/2013 | Trevor Potts
Should be seeing you guys during first week of December aboard Corinthian
09/11/2013 | daisy
Happy to hear Pelagic is at Port Lockroy! x
At what temperature does sea water freeze?
06/11/2013, 64 49.7'S:063 29.8'W, Half a mile from Port Lockroy

How cold does it have to be for sea spray to freeze on a boat? We're not actually sure as our thermometer gave up the ghost around -6C and that was a good few days ago when it was still practically tropical. Frozen sea spray on all the guard wires, shrouds, lines and just about everything does make for some impressive photos, even if it does make boat maneuvers a bit time consuming, what with having to chip ice off and dig out any lines, winches, cleats you might need. It's also not so fun when the frozen sea spray is on your face, or any other part of you, for that matter. Our first experience of seawater freezing happened overnight in the Drake, about 50Nm North of Smith Island. Caution being the better part of valour we decided to hove to through the night rather than push on through to try and find shelter. Pelagic then stoically rode out a storm which saw gusts as high as 60kts. True southern ocean conditions saw gigantic waves and icy seas. The crew, now almost all over their seasickness, seemed to take it all in their stride. 36 hours later when the storm had completely abated, there was a valiant de-icing operation as we motored down the Bransfield in flat water. It felt as though we were almost there, pushing our way through broken sea ice in the Northern Gerlache. Little did we know that our epic wasn't over and we had to spend once last night battling 40kts from the southwest. Luckily skipper Dave managed to find us an ice free spot in which to shelter in the entrance to Dallmann Bay just before night fall, but with no safe anchorage the crew spent a restless night holding station in the lee of The Wiafs, taking hour long turns in the freezing cold, holding the boat steady and shining the spot light on stray bits of ice. It was a great team effort, with those not on deck at any given time making sure that those who were on deck were kept supplied with dry-ish gloves, hand warmers and cups of tea at the ready. Thankfully we caught a break for our last run in to Port Lockroy, and enjoyed clear blue skies and decreasing wind all the way. The storm had filled the bay with even more ice than normal and so we are currently tied-in about half a mile from the huts, wedged into the sea ice with two lines onto some stray (grounded) glacial ice and one onto an old whaler's chain ashore, an operation not made any easier by the sudden heavy snow flurry. It was rather magical though, Pelagic, surrounded with ice, tied onto ice, with big fat snow flakes landing all around. I think its safe to say we all slept rather well last night.

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07/11/2013 | Phil Somerville
Great blog guys.. fascinating to follow your trip..
07/11/2013 | DĂ©lia
Amazing !
Heading south
01/11/2013, 58 08.1'S:065 47.5'W, Drake Passage

So, Pelagic is heading south once again. We are on our way to the Antarctic Peninsula Ð the first tourist vessel of the new season. More specifically we are heading to Port Lockroy with a two person film crew of Andrew and Ruth, and a UK Antarctic Heritage Trust team of Tudor and Helen who are opening up the museum/post office that is Port Lockroy. We left Ushuaia for Puerto Williams Thursday lunchtime, and after much negotiation with officialdom left Puerto Williams after dinner that evening. A pleasant night motor-sail and a beautiful dawn had us passing Isla Lennox with less than 10 knots of breeze from most directions at one time or another. By lunch the breeze had freshened a little from the northwest and we had picked up an entourage of dolphins, black-browed, wandering, and a lone grey-headed albatross, countless cape petrels, terns and fairy prions. With this audience and a solid breeze it was time to turn off the engine and enjoy the view as we sailed away from Cape Horn. Over night and into this morning we have had good conditions - occasionally up to 30 knots but largely in the low 20's all from aft of the beam, perfect sailing for Pelagic. Tonight we are expecting the breeze to build a little with gusts into the high 30's.

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Bring on the glaciers
03/04/2013, 54 53.7'S:067 50.8'W, Beagle Channel

The good ship Pelagic is currently making progress down the Beagle Channel and into the glaciers. We have flat calm seasÊand the sun has just come out, idyllic, but its been rather an eventful few days.

Proving ourselves again to be the go-to boat for record-fast Cape Horn trips, we zoomed out of Puerto Williams on the 31st andÊdown to the Cape Horn Archipelago. Having anchored in 30kts, we were surprised to wake up to completely still conditionsÊand an amazing sunrise. We decided there probably wouldn't get a better opportunity to round the famous Cape and went forÊit. The weather forecasts have been incredibly varied all week so we weren't entirely sure what conditions to expect but by the time weÊgot there we were sailing round in a rather pleasant 15-20kts. A first for Dave, who has only ever rounded in all or nothingÊconditions. 5kt or 50kts, nothing in between. We also beat our big sister, Pelagic Australis, who were also down at the Horn,Êround the Cape by a full 2hours. Something about early birds and worms...They are still claiming it wasn't a race but as every good sailor knows if there are two yachts heading in the same direction it is definitely a race. And we wo n.Ê

It was really fantastic to be able to land and to be greeted like an old friend by the Lighthouse-keeper, Samuel. He suspectsÊwe will be one of the last yachts of the season to come and visit. I'm not sure when I might get another opportunity, so I dutifully bought a t-shirt from the Cape Horn gift shop. Samuel predicted that the weather would start to turnÊaround 5pm and in preparation had already taken down his flag, lest it be blown away like the last one. We made a dashÊto get back before it did. Sure enough at 5pm on the dot the wind started to build. For the first few hours in Bahia Nassau weÊenjoyed fantastic sailing conditions, beam reaching in 25-30kts. Unfortunately for us, as darkness fell the wind conditioned toÊbuild, 35kts, 45kts, 55kts and we continued to shorten sail until we were sailing along fully reefed and still reaching speeds inÊexcess of 10kts. It became a bit of a white knuckle ride. Good old Pelagic handled it like the pro that she is, and a few hour sÊlater a rather tired and bedraggled crew made it into Paso Goree, hoping for some shelter. The wind was so strong that itÊfunnelled up the channel for another 5 miles before we got much respite. Eventually we dropped the rest of the main andÊfound ourselves surfing up the channel under bare poles with the engine in tickover still doing 8kts. The further up the channel we went, the more sheltered it became, until we finallyÊreached the anchorage in Cabo Rees in 5kts of wind and flat seas. I was very relieved to feel the clunk of the chain as the anchor bit and to be able to inform the Chilean Navy we were tucked up safely, one less boat for them to worry about.Ê

The boys onboard say they are glad they experienced the conditions that Cape Horn can throw up, and having seen approximately 60kts in the Bay of Nassau, quite rightly feel they have done the Cape 'properly'. However, I'm fairly sure we are all agreed that we'd be happy for today's more 'tranquilo' conditions to continue for a few more days. Bring on the glaciers.Ê

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Port: Stanley, Falkland Islands
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