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 [...]

Bahia Cook

14 March 2011 | Beagle Channel
I write as we cruise away from the Beagle Channel, heading west into the setting sun, with 270 degree views of rocky islands, round mossy hills and the snow covered Cordellera Darwin with glacial valleys squeezing between each dramatic peak. Just a quarter of the view is a clear channel of water that allows us to enter the Pacific Ocean and fortunately for us, the weather is so far calm, just the usual ocean swell rolling in. This is our first time out of the Beagle through Bahia Cook and it couldn't a better evening for it. Our plan is to sail overnight into the Pacific, round to the south and then east towards Cape Horn. We hope that the 120 mile journey will culminate in us seeing the sun rise behind the horn and if we are very lucky, another landing on the island to visit the lighthouse keeper and stamp the passports.
We've had a wonderful week with a fantastic bunch of antipodeans. 5 Australians and 2 New Zealanders though it seems that most of them have deserted their home country for either Hong Kong or America. The total booze consumption is too shocking to report at this stage, and I doubt whether today being dry (for the offshore passage) will have any real impact on the daily average. Amazingly however, there is still plenty going on during the day - big hikes up steep grassy ridges to get another view of the Beagle, kayaking up to the front of tidewater glaciers, fishing, crabbing and some hanging out with a cup of coffee reading a book and watching the stunning scenery from the comfort of the pilot house. Today has been indescribably beautiful. We were in our favourite anchorage, which we know as Coletta Wow, a round inlet, with a narrow entrance, completely encircled by vast hills, mountains, cliffs and a glacier that snakes its way almost to sea level. The sun came out half way through the morning providing us with the sort of warmth we've been missing all week, and we were really able to appreciate the beauty of this phenominal spot. The afternoon saw Miles and I with Bruce and Bill - the trekking team - head up a very steep ridge behind the boat. It was a hot climb, but we gained height so quickly that each time we stopped and looked around us, the view almost took what was left of our breath away. We had said we'd leave the anchorage at 4, so our turn around time was 3 and luckily we just managed to reach the top and to see over the other side with 5 minutes to spare for a much needed water rest and an opportunity to take some photos. From the top, we could see that three, maybe even 4 extra glaciers tumble down towards the bay from the heights stopping at various levels and creating a natural lake of the most vibrant turquoise water, and then at the other end of the lake, a waterfall pours down the cliffs, through the trees and into the sea below.
Earlier in the week Bruce, Bill and I had a some what less hot experience at Coletta Olla, climbing a similarly steep ridge, but in what started as rain, and soon turned to heavy snow. It was quite beautiful at the top huddling under a tree (Arboroles bandera that are so windswept that the tiny strong branches grow out horizontally - to the east of course!) watching the snow falling in huge gentle flakes meandering down and sitting on anything and everything. Our thermos of hot tea was much appreciated that day, as was the slice of fruit cake I made earlier in the charter.
As I have been typing this, the blissful sound of the engine being turned off has distracted me. We have enough wind now from the north east to sail under full main and full yankee and we're making 7 and a half knots towards our destination. My watch starts in a few minutes so I better sign off and get dressed appropriately for a night watch under clear skies in the southern ocean. The temperature has plummeted since the sun went down but we are used to it and wise to it now!
So, Cape Horn, here we come!
All the best
Laura, Miles and Dave

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