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 fabulous day

20 January 2012 | Antarctica
Laura Parish
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 here in Antarctica that our playground is severely reduced. Our clients are a 3D film crew from Hollywood, aiming to make a 40 minute documentary about the change in Antarctica, in 3D and to be sold to museums and Imax theatres around the world. It has been a challenge for them to get enough footage due to the precipitation and we have spent many hours watching them clean and dry the mirrors and lenses again, and again and again. The equipment is very elaborate and delicate and requires a long time to set up and calibrate and 'black shade' each day, so the guys are working really hard, and we are trying to be patient which is a challenge when something like a beautiful sunset is about to happen and they can't take advantage of it because they are fiddling around with the camera!

However, yesterday was a truly fantastic day. We had a 5am start in heavy snow to move the boat from the previous days location at the American science base Palmer Station to some islands further south. As we entered what we call the Iceberg Graveyard, we saw absolutely hundreds of Gentoo penguins swimming in the sea around us. There was a strong current presumably bringing krill into the area and plenty of wildlife was taking advantage. The guys set up their camera, the snow stopped falling and we spent a wonderful few hours driving round in circles filming penguins jumping out of the sea, and onto tiny blocks of ice - and then falling off. Sometimes two would leap onto the same piece of ice and bat each other with their flippers before they both fell off. Another time they were trying to leap onto piles of slush on the water, and just fell straight through feet first. It was hilarious! Underneath the overhang of a huge iceberg a leopard seal snaked its way back and forth in the clear blue water in their snake like, sinister way. He waited menacingly for an opportunity to snatch some breakfast, but the penguins were taunting him and swimming in huge groups around him and then away and he wasn't taking the bait. He was still patiently waiting for his opportunity when we moved on, and I suddenly felt sorry for him - after all he has to eat.

Our intention for the day was to get down to the Yalour Islands where there is a colony of Adelie penguins. We had heard from other boats down here that the LeMaire Channel, and Penola straights were completely blocked with ice, but Skip (who is on board for a couple of months), insisted that it was worth trying to get down there. As we approached Penola Straights from French Passage, we could see that it was completely chocked with brash and broken down sea ice. In between each piece of ice was thick slush and as we entered it, the boat almost immediately ground to a halt. We ploughed through for a few hundred metres and I went up the mast to the first spreaders to have a look for a clear patch. It wasn't getting any thinner - in fact ahead of us was 9/10s ice and we would have no chance of getting through that. While I was up the mast, I noticed smoke coming from the exhaust - uh oh, the slush had blocked the strainer for the cooling water for the engine and it was overheating. How ironic that something so cold can prevent the engine from cooling down! We had to stop and for a while thought we might get our very own Shackleton experience, but Miles is on board and so the problem was quickly solved. No sooner was the engine switched off than he was in the engine room pulling lids off, clearing out the strainer, rodding out the salt water manifold and allowing a good flow of water once again. The film crew set up the 3D camera on the bow and when they were ready, we restarted the engine, turned round and headed back for clear water. It was a great opportunity for us to get some shots and Dave went to the top of the mast with my camera to prove that we really were ice bound!

So our attempt for Yalour Islands failed and we headed back up to Hovgaard and Pleneau Islands. This bay when we arrived was over half full of sea ice, but there was enough space for us and some rocks to tie our lines in and so we were settled for the night. The film crew prepared their camera and equipment once again and headed off to catch some penguins with their chicks, and we had a few hours to ourselves. The first thing was to test out the sea ice. We drove the dinghy up onto it, and it didn't break so we figured it could hold our weight. We found the football from the depths of our storage on board, and headed out for a run around - much needed after pretty much 3 weeks without leaving the boat. The afternoon sun lit the whole place in the most incredible way, and once we had tired of football we went up a hill to look down on an absolutely staggeringly beautiful view. At last, the opportunity to breath in this fantastic scenery in clear skies, light winds and warm sunshine. Later on, after Miles' delicious lamb curry, we headed out again to the top of the hill to watch the sunset. It was a real shame that the film crew weren't able to reassemble their gear in time but Antarctica waits for no-one! WOW, what a view. The red sky, the pink icebergs, the scale of the place reminded us of how lucky we are to be here, and how much we will miss it next year.

Now the crew are ashore here again, but grey skies threatening snow sit low above us. Another 3 days before we have to head back and they really really need some more sunshine - the forecast doesn't look too bad so fingers crossed.

We hope all is well at home and look forward to hearing any news Lots of love Laura, Miles and Dave
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Pelagic Australis's Photos - Main
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