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 [...]

Windy

28 April 2011 | Cape Horn
Laura Parish
We rounded yesterday in moderate breeze after all, and even managed to land the 3 guests (we picked up an extra in Ushuaia) onto the beach in the lee of the island so that they could go and get their passports stamped, and receive their Cape Horn certificates. It wasn't without a few dramas that we made it round - the furler for the yankee (our 2nd biggest headsail) blew apart and the sail unfurled itself without any chance of being re-furled. To drop our headsails, we need to find the halyard from the forepeak, undo a lashing and somehow wiggle a bulldog clip through the small hole in the mast and then we can begin to drop. The breeze was between 25 and 40 knots which is above the range for the sail, but luckily we had enough sea room to heave to and prepare for the drop. All three guests were called to help and between everyone, the sail was eventually brought down to the deck, lashed into a sausage and passed down the forehatch. The damage to the clew of the sail, and the sheets, not to mention the furler have yet to be assessed but we think that we should have time to repair everything so that it is alright for our trip across to Cape Town next month. Last night we returned to Caleta Martial for a celebratory dinner, and everyone was really proud and pleased to have been able to get round, and land on Cape Horn. Plenty more toasts, now with whiskey, but this time, more importantly, we managed to avoid being involved.

The breeze was forecast to rise again to 30knots through the night, and so we ran another anchor watch. When I came on at 0200 the wind was freshening into the 30's and 40's, that's force 8, and continued to rise. By this morning, we again have 50knots plus - that's force 10, and it is still rising. The forecast showed nothing of this magnitude but it is set, we now believe, to continue for several days so the decision has been made to stay here until it is safe to leave. Alcamar Hornos has told us he again has gusts of 140knots (cat4 hurricane) and that in the previous storm the other day, he had a record (for Cape Horn!) maximum wind speed of 155 (which is almost cat 5 hurricane!). While ours is showing 35-40knots for tomorrow, his forecast is showing average winds of 80, gusting over 100. For those non sailors amongst you, this is not something any sailor would ever wish to experience. Imagine driving along the motorway at 100mph and sticking your head out of the roof, or maybe even climbing out and walking to the front of the car - that is how windy it might get here!!! You may be wondering why we are not sailing back to Puerto Williams but to cross Bahia Nassau in this breeze would be foolhardy. It is the cemetery of many sailing ships from the past, and we would prefer not to become a statistic at this stage. If something, anything, went wrong in those winds, we would be very strapped to manage the situation, in particular with limited crew and significant communication difficulties. At least in this anchorage, we are spared any significant seaway so the spray across the deck is just wind blown, and has little force in it. The anchor has dragged only once so far, but we are all on edge, watching and watching the transit and the plotter (which draws our track) to ensure that we are staying where we are.



Dave is making soup, the guys are watching a movie, and Miles is on anchor watch - I think I'll go and catch up on some sleep.



Enjoy the wedding tomorrow.



Lots of love

Laura, Miles and Dave

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