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 [...]

And then there was one...

21 April 2011 | Ushuaia
Laura Parish
Two South Georgia, two Antarctica and two Beagle channel trips under our belts, the days are drawing in, the dock is all but deserted, but the season for Pelagic Australis has a couple of months still to go.
On Sunday just 2 Russians will arrive for us to take to Cape Horn all being well. This is a last minute booking, two men obviously desperate to realise a dream of sailing around and possibly landing on the Cape. We have cleaned the boat from top to toe and provisioned with a fraction of what we would normally take. It will seem strange to have just 2 instead of the usual 8 guests, but we hope we'll be able to give them everything they have dreamed of - 7 days should be enough to find a weather window to round the horn, but landing still might be very difficult. We have been so lucky this year and landed all three times we have tried, could this make it a full compliment?
The beach at Cape Horn is tricky for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as you can imagine, it's the end of the world, and there is almost always a huge swell running even if it isn't blowing a gale. Secondly, it usually is blowing a gale, since there are an endless supply of depressions making their way constantly around the south of the world and when they reach South America, they slide down Chile and charge round the corner at the bottom, and thirdly, the beach we can land on is very steep and covered in big stones and rocks rather than lovely soft sand making the escape from the dinghy, onto the land pretty tricky. We have quite an efficient method now, taking one of the three of us in a dry suit to the beach in advance of any guests. We turn the dinghy on the top of a wave, and reverse towards the beach on the same wave, being careful to lift the outboard before it hits the rocks. Then the drysuit wearer jumps out, keeps the boat straight, waits for the next wave and pushes it off, straight back to fetch the others. The next load has 4 or 5 people in it, the same strategy of reversing on a wave towards the waiting drysuit wearer who is one minute up to their waste in water and the next on dry land. The dinghy surges in on the wave and the dry suit wearer has to catch the back, keep it straight and wait for the sea to disappear again. The guests can then leap out over the back (on to the very wet and slippery rocks) before the next wave lifts the dinghy and tries to send it to it's death on rocks higher up, or take it out to sea. The hardest bit about being the drysuit wearer (we've all had a turn this year) is keeping your footing on uneven and slippery rocks when the surge from the waves does it's best to drag you out to sea, or at the very least, send you swimming! Let's hope these two Russians are up to the challenge!
It seems so strange to be here in Ushuaia when there is no-one else left. We left last time at the beginning of February, peak season, and the dock was packed 5 deep on both sides. 30 or more yachts - private and charter, English, Polish, German, Italian but mostly French - all hectically trying to provision and repair anything before setting off for their next adventure. The hustle and bustle was infectious and the atmosphere that we are all in this together, inspiring. Almost everyday in Ushuaia at some point gale force gusts of wind challenge us as we try to trolley endless boxes of food, wine, beer, spare parts, diesel, gas and anything else we need along the narrow rickety dock that so many are tied to. It is certainly a weekly, and sometimes a daily occurance for a trolley to take a swim, and it's just luck if it is on the way to or from the boat and if it is full or not. Now it has been calm for a few days (though we did have some gusts of force 9 yesterday evening), we are literally the only boat on the dock, no hustle and bustle, no socialising in whatever language (or mixture of) happens to be spoken at the time, just a few local friends who we can call on for an Easter drink this weekend before our guests arrive.
The city itself is still quite busy. The boy racers that drive faster and faster round the town overnight will never stop and the queues in the supermarkets for this holiday weekend are no different from those at home.
I'm sure the next few weeks will go really quickly and then we'll have our last group on board and begin our final journey of the season across the Atlantic pausing for a day or two at Stanley, and then on, for another 4000 miles to Cape Town.
Let's hope we can have lots of good quick safe sailing on that one, but more to come nearer the time.
Happy Easter, enjoy the sun and have a drink for us
Laura, Miles and Dave
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