Adventures aboard Pelagic Australis

Vessel Name: Pelagic Australis
Crew: Miles, Laura and Dave
About: Miles hails from Yorkshire farming stock, Laura is from Kent and competed in the 2000 BT Global Challenge, and Dave is a dinghy sailor from Devon
14 June 2012 | Cape Town, South Africa
21 April 2012 | Beagle Channel
20 April 2012 | Estero Coloane, Beagle Channel South West arm
04 April 2012 | Puerto Williams, Chile
15 February 2012 | Port Lockroy, Antarctica
20 January 2012 | Antarctica
27 November 2011 | South end of South Georgia
18 November 2011 | Grytviken, South Georgia
28 October 2011 | Grytviken, South Georgia
19 October 2011 | Grytviken, South Georgia
14 October 2011 | Elsehul, South Georgia
07 October 2011 | Stanley
14 June 2011 | 36 25'S:4 10'E, South Atlantic
02 June 2011 | 48 32'S:42 32'W, South Atlantic
29 May 2011 | Stanley, Falkland Islands
07 May 2011 | Puerto Wililams
28 April 2011 | Cape Horn
27 April 2011 | Cape Horn
21 April 2011 | Ushuaia
14 March 2011 | Beagle Channel
Recent Blog Posts
14 June 2012 | Cape Town, South Africa

The final chapter

And so we have arrived in Cape Town. Our final journey across the

21 April 2012 | Beagle Channel

Caleta Wow

Some pictures to go with yesterdays blog!

20 April 2012 | Estero Coloane, Beagle Channel South West arm

Caleta Wow

It is difficult to know what to write to you about without repeating myself, but as this whole Pelagic adventure nears its end, we are appreciating more and more the places we visit, the people we meet, and the things we do. Yesterday we were in our favourite anchorage, Estero Coloane (otherwise known as Caleta Wow), which I know I have written about before, but it really is spectacular. A circular bay, maybe as much as a mile in diameter, is surrounded by mountains and glaciers. All around there are waterfalls cascading down from hidden lakes high up in the mountains. In one corner, there is a small island and a little nook under the trees. We reverse in with the yacht, so the stern is under the overhanging branches, and we tie a shore line from each corner of the boat, to the trees. When we arrived a couple of days ago, the wind was strong out in the Beagle Channel and swirling around the bay. Williwaws (katabatic winds) raced in different directions sometimes catching our bow, and sometimes leaving us be. We could see them coming down the hanging glacier high above us, and follow their progress to the water and then across the bay. Miles looked nervously at the tiny tree on the island that was holding our starboard bow line as it bowed under our weight, but there are no bigger trees and it held firm. [p] Yesterday it was calm and clear and we split into two groups. Dave and I took Andy and Sue up to the ridge behind the boat for a fabulous view of the bay, the glaciers and then, when we were high enough, the Beagle Channel. It is a hard climb but every time you turn around the view gets better. There was an easterly wind blowing when we got to the top, and the sky was dark dark dark - full of snow. By the time we'd had a a cup of tea and a biscuit it was snowing heavily, so we carefully picked our way down and joined the others on board. The other group had gone on a shorter adventure, but no less magnificent. They climbed up to a lake on the other side of the bay maybe 250m high. The lake was formed by a hanging glacier and the water still poured in from above. However, it has also been heavily affected by beavers. They are a real pest in this part of the world as they dam rivers and create huge areas of flooded land. Miles, Jarrod and Jeremy had a good look at the beaver dams, slides they use to get down to the waterline, the trees that have been recently gnawed and the mass of dead trees in the middle of the lake. They came back buzzing.[p] In the afternoon, we took the kayaks and the zodiac over to the far corner of the bay and made our way over the moraine to the glacier. This one is slowly retreating and for various reasons I haven't been over to it since our very first time in the bay 3 years ago. It has moved back quite some way since then, but just melting - no chunks of ice falling from it. It was so amazing to get up close, and actually walk on the ice. We had a hilarious photoshoot with all of us trying to stay in place without sliding back down, or falling into a crevasse. Then it started snowing again and so we walked down the valley bottom towards the boats. On our way down, despite the snow we decided to go and look at another beaver lake. They really are incredible creatures - collecting their wood and stockpiling it, then chopping it down into sensible size sticks to make a beautifully constructed dam. Then in the middle their lodge - an igloo made of stick and wood - amazing! It was almost dark and still heavily snowing when we returned to the kayaks, but so beautiful and still that we decided not to have a ride back. It was a stunning paddle back with that absolute silence that comes with falling snow and snowflakes so huge they could have been on steroids. We got back and Dave had started the bar b q. It was a special request from our South Africans on board - Andy and Sue lived in Botswana for 22 years, they are not used to snow and it was so fun to see them playing around in it. "I promise I'll cook, but we must have a bri in the snow!" - "Once is enough" he said afterwards! A great evening ensued with lots of wine, music and chat. Everyone on a high from such a fantastic day. As always, it feels as if we have known these guys for our whole lives, but just 10 days ago, they were strangers to us. What other job or environment pushes relationships so fast? [p] It is becoming more difficult to imagine leaving this world, but we are excited about setting up a home in Yorkshire and being able to welcome some of our guests - or new friends - to stay when they are in the area. This has been an extraordinary way to live - out of range for the media, and in the company of people that are on holiday, and therefore enjoying themselves and relaxing. We don't hear the doom and gloom, and melodrama of the worlds press, just the oohs and ahhs as we move through some of the most stunning countryside on the planet.[p] More soon, [p] Lots of love[p] Laura and Miles[p]

04 April 2012 | Puerto Williams, Chile

An exciting rounding

It seems ages since I wrote my last update. It was probably when we

15 February 2012 | Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Is our Antarctic luck running out?

We have around 10 days left in Antarctica for this group, and our final

20 January 2012 | Antarctica

A fabulous day

It's been a difficult charter so far - starting with a delay for the guests, some 'essential' equipment that didn't make it through customs in Buenos Aires, a four and a half day up wind Drake passage crossing, and then continuing with rain and snow and grey days, and so much ice in the channels down [...]

The southern most town in the world

09 March 2011 | Puerto Williams
After a relatively short stop in Puerto Williams we are about to set off again - this time just in the Beagle Channel. It was a really lovely week, with fantastic weather, and some of our friends also between charters to socialise with, not to mention a good friend of both Miles and I who happened to be passing through for a few days. It was such a treat to have a catch up down here with a friend from home. Plenty of beer and pisco sours were consumed, but we also had a fair amount of work to do. The cleaning of the bilges, the foulies, the forepeak, all the food containers and the inside and outside of the boat takes three days in itself, and then the servicing of the engine, the generator and the other maintenance that keeps the boat running smoothly. Even though we are only on charter for 2 or 3 weeks, we clean everything out between, partly to keep it clean and hygienic, but also to have a good check over supplies, and the condition of the boat. By completely scrubbing and cleaning the bilges every month, we are able to keep a very close eye on the hull and the pipework, and the amount of water that is coming on board. Any changes are quickly investigated and problems rectified.
It was lovely one afternoon, when our agent came to take us for a drive on Isla Navarino. We headed west from Puerto Williams, the only road goes along the coast, and it was incredibly beautiful, the Beagle channel looking its best in the afternoon sunshine. Jose had brought a pack of beer with him so we sat by a historic graveyard from the Yaghan tribe, soaking up the warmth of the autumn sun and chatting to Jose in our very average spanglish! One of the real challenges of operating down here is the bureaucracy and red tape that surrounds any and every movement of the boat. Since we are registered as more than 50 tonnes, we now have to pay a pilot to go in and out of both Ushuaia and Puerto Williams which is difficult to understand when we have been going in and out happily on our own for the past two seasons! However, this means that we also have to pay an agent to manage and book the pilot, and organise all the paperwork. Again, we have been doing this perfectly satisfactorily for the past two seasons, but the authorities say, and we do! Jose has been worth every penny (I'm not sure Skip would agree but from our point of view, it does make life very much easier) and for this charter, with Jose's intervention, we have been given special permission to sail west along the Beagle, and out through Bahia Cook into the Pacific, in order that we can then sail south, around Cape Horn and then back up to Puerto Williams. This makes a wonderful loop of about 400 miles, takes in the absolutely stunning western section of the Beagle with the glaciers, and then includes an offshore sail and a proper rounding of Cape Horn (weather permitting!). In the past this option has been closed to us, possibly for safety reasons, but we are hopeful that, if we don't have any problems or incidents, and we report to the authorities our position twice a day, we might be able to repeat the permit for future trips.
Provisioning the boat in Puerto Williams is challenging! There are a few small supermacardos, with basic supplies, and on Fridays a ferry comes down from Punta Arenas with fresh food on board. I ordered the meat, fruit and vegetables, wine and beer in advance, direct from Punta Arenas and mostly it arrived on the ferry last Friday. The guests didn't arrive until Tuesday so already the food has had a two day ferry journey, and then a 4 day wait in Williams during a mini heatwave. The quality was poor to say the least. All the soft fruit and veg and fresh herbs were already perished when we put them on board on Monday, the lettuce also had to be thrown away, a lot of the onions were rotten through and the meat is already pretty high. However, we have plenty of good potatoes, and other hard veg, two full lambs that we have strapped to the back of the boat, plenty of beer and wine, and a great group of Australians so I am absolutely certain we'll be alright. It just seems like such a waste of money when the food doesn't get eaten. It wouldn't make any sense to try and take it back as for sure, there is no chance to replace it so that, is that!
The forecast looks breezy for the next couple of days and then settled again so fingers crossed we'll have an interesting, varied and active trip. We head off later to Bahia Yendegaia to Estancia Ferrari, where the Gaucho, another Jose of course, lives with his girlfriend. Maybe there will be some riding, or fishing, or asado...We'll keep you posted.

All the best
Laura and Miles

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