|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|
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]
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 ocean swell rocks us gently from side to side, with sometimes a much bigger roll causing books, jars, glasses, tea and coffee pots to move and rattle, but mostly to stay put. All the crew are now over seasickness, myself included, which makes for a much more productive time. The lethargy and exhaustion that comes with feeling ill at sea leaves no motivation to achieve anything and a positive reluctance to get on with chores on board. Now we are moving into the routine, the boat is being kept clean by the morning watch, maintenance and deck washes by the lunchtime watch, and food prepared by the afternoon watch. The two Charlies, John and Paul are beginning to get into the laid back system of 3hrs on watch and 6 hrs off, leaving plenty of time for reading, editing photos, emailing home, general chat and of course, sleep. We still have plenty of fresh food on board - this morning I made a fruit salad of pineapple, mango, kiwis, oranges, apples, bananas and pears to ke ep away the scurvy - better to use it all before it goes off. For the first few days, we began to worry about losing our teeth since we seemed to live almost entirely on baby food - porridge, pumpkin and tarragon soup, well cooked stew, mashed potato, rice... so we are looking forward to a crunchy stir fry tonight to get our teeth working again. Oh dear, we've only been at sea for 4 days and already conversation has turned to food.
The crew are coming to terms with not being rushed off their feet running a business, and learning to slow down. Though plenty of emails are coming through with requests and inquiries from their work, they are letting go and appreciating the vastness of the Atlantic ocean, the beauty and grace of the albatross that swoop majestically around the boat and the enthusiasm of the smaller birds (prions, pintados, storm petrels) flitting around the crests of the waves, searching for food. The pressure to try and stop at Tristan de Cunha has been increased today as we hear there is an English woman who has been researching the tanker that crashed on Inaccessible Island a few months ago who needs a ride home. Not relishing the prospect of being there until the end of July when the next supply vessel comes through, she has put a request in to Skip to see if she can become part of the Pelagic Australis crew, and we will be happy to have her on board, if conditions allow for us to stop there. At this time of year, it is fairly rare that it is calm enough to get ashore but we will see.
I keep asking the guys to write up a blog but so far inspiration isn't coming. Hopefully they'll contribute soon.
All the best
Miles Laura Dave Charlie Charlie John and Paul