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 [...]

A bit fresh at Cape Horn

27 April 2011 | Cape Horn
Laura Parish
With a forecast of 25-35 knots we set off from Puerto Williams yesterday morning in complete calm. The beagle channel was like a mirror, with hundreds of birds and seals having a great time fishing in huge shoal of sardines. Occasionally a gust of 12 or 15 knots would ripple on the water and we'd speed up, or slow down depending on whether it came from the west or from the east. The gradient wind was northerly at the time, which means that it can go either way down the Beagle depending on the layout of the mountains. Later it was forecast to be from the west so we were hoping to have a good sail down to the Cape Horn islands where there is a reasonable anchorage to sit and wait for an opportunity to sail round the horn.

Since it is winter time, and no-one else is around now apart from the odd fishing boat, we felt very alone as we set off across Bahia Nassau, an open channel around 30 miles wide, renowned for strong winds and nasty choppy seas. The breeze filled in, 20, 25, 30 knots from the west as promised and we had a lovely afternoon sail, in sunshine for a few hours, making good progress towards the horn. As the afternoon wore on, the breeze picked up further -- 35, 40, gusting 45, the fourth reef went in, the yankee was furled away and the strong small staysail pulled out to see us safely through the gusts. When we were just 5 or 6 miles from the islands, we could see white water ahead and knew we were in for a bit of a kicking -- 45, 50... -- our wind instruments don't read above 50 so we don't actually know what the wind speed was, but it was incredible watching the spray and feeling the force of the wind as it hurtled across the boat.

The williwaws (katabatic winds) were the best I have ever seen -- clouds of wind and spray anything from a 10 to 100 metres wide shooting across the sea. By now the wind instruments weren't reading at all so we knew we had a constant 50 plus and it felt like a lot more. We managed to get the mainsail down in the lulls (still not reading on the instruments), and the engine saw us safely down the channels between the islands towards the anchorage. It was in these channels that the williwaws were stronger and more frequent than ever, and eventually we made it to Caleta Martial, a shallow, fairly sheltered bay, with good mud for the anchor to hold. This is a place where at peak Antarctic season, there are often 5 or 6 boats sitting out a blow waiting for an opportunity to cross the Drake. Today we are the only ones here -- there is a reason why everyone else goes north for the winter!!

We dropped the anchor, and 80m of chain in 10m water and held our breaths. We were occasionally getting readings on the instruments now so sometimes it was below 50knots, but in general it was pretty fresh. The anchor held well, and we tacked back and forth with the chain almost horizontal in front of us. Miles radioed Alcamar Hornos, the lighthouse keeper at Cape Horn, to tell him we were here and safely anchored. We mentioned the breeze, and it turns out that he had ciento cuarenta -- 140 -- knots of wind.... just 10 miles away!!!! No wonder the hawk has blown off the windex at the top of the mast. We sat an anchor watch overnight, and banned any booze for all on board. Throughout the night, the wind has moderated to a relatively peaceful 20-35knots and heavy rain. This still doesn't fill us with too much enthusiasm to haul in the anchor and set off for the Cape, however, we really need to go at first light if we go at all, as the forecast for today is the lightest winds for the whole week, 25-30 (gusting to 55 according to Alcamar Hornos last night). I think a landing is unlikely -- we don't fancy launching the dinghy in gusts of 50 knots -- but let's hope for a safe rounding and an easy passage back up to Isla Navarino, and the relative safety of the Beagle Channel.

All the best Laura, Miles and Dave
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