Crossing the Drake Passage

Lars Alfredson
Tue 3 Jan 2012 21:24
Pos 61:41.44S 64:35.66W

18.00 hours local time the 3rd of January 2012

Swedish followed by English

Hej !

Vi är nu på väg. När vi närmar oss Kap Horn möts vi av delfiner som leker runt båten. När vi ser de beryktade Kap Horn är det regn och det blåser mycket. 25 sekundmeter från nord väst. I diset ser vi fyren blinka. Detta är ett ögonblick som kommer att följa med i vårt minne.

Seglingen först dygnet blir lite jobbig, höga vågor och båten lutar mycket ibland. Man blir van efter ett tag och håller i sig.

Drakes sund som vi nu ska över är känt för sitt dåliga väder. Vi hoppas att vädergubbarna har rätt i de väderutsikterna som de skickat till vår dator.

Vi är nu inne på andra dagen. Det är lugnare på havet. Vi har det riktigt bra. Peter bakar en kaka till kaffet. Solen skiner och det blåser bara 10 sekundmeter. Vi gör 9 knop. Medan vi dricker vårt kaffe i hytten som har utsikt över havet ser vi albatrosser som flyger runt båten. Temperaturen ute har nu sjunkit till 4 plus grader. Om vi ska bada så blir det mycket kort bad, 2 plus grader.

Nu är det kväll och solen lyser. Det är sommar här. Känns lite konstigt när man kommer från mörkret hemma. Nu väntar middagen om en stund.

Hälsningar Urban

01012011 Puerto Williams - Departure

Having downloaded the latest Grib (Weather) file it looks like the next four days will provide the weather window we have been looking for. A low coming through the Drake channel centred off Tierra del Fuego is giving 35 knot North, North Westerly winds gradually turning more westerly to south westerly and decreasing as we proceed through its leading edge.

"Grey Pearl" casts off leaving us to follow them and several other yachts that precede us. There is a good westerly funnelling down the Channel giving us 8 knots in a relatively calm sea as we chase them.

"Grey Pearl" will be stopping at Porto Toro as they wish to see if the Church that burnt down has been replaced, with a view to getting married there. Well that's the theory! As we pass we can see new Church and as they turn of and we go our separate ways.

Wishing to take full advantage of the weather, the decision has been made not to stop at Cabo de Horno but continue straight down to Antarctica. Our current destination, the Melchior Islands takes us West of the South Shetland Islands down to the 64th parallel.

This group of small islands lies between the much larger Brabant and Avers Isles and provide a secure shelter in most conditions. From here, dependent on ice conditions, we will decide whether to go further south. Either way we will work our way back via the various islands and research stations with Deception Islands, a volcano, with its crater accessed by a narrow entrance that connects it to the sea high on our list.

The Motor Sailer "Australis", low in the water with its British Antarctica party and all their equipment onboard overtakes us heading for King George Islands as we pass Cabo de Horno. It's raining and as we leave the shelter of the islands with both wind and sea picking up.

Under a double reefed mainsail and full number 2 jib were doing 10+ in 35 knot winds. The seas gradually increase and were taking 4 to 5 metres on the starboard aft quarter as we rock, roll and surf, heeling through 30 degrees.

As we will be on this tack for the next 3-4 days and until the seas calm, my bunk becomes untenable being to starboard so I take refuge on the Pilot House settee which is to port. Others coming off watch grab the nearest suitable bunk and we're "Hot bunking" as the shifts change with Urban who shares my watch jumping into Peter's berth when we hand over to him and Thomas.

During the night we saw the lights of a large ship astern passing from east to west the last we will see for a while probably.

02012012 At Sea 1

As we settle into the routine of watches, sleeping, meals and reading the days merge into one another. Today's excitement centres on the top half of the pilot house door which has stripped the threads of its hinge bolts and is in danger of falling off. A similar problem with bottom half had previously been addressed so we know the cure i.e. Bigger bolts, which will require drilling and tapping for the new size, but will have to wait for the calmer water of our next anchorage.

During the night we have reduced the jib as wind was gusting 50 kts, it made little difference to our speed but reduced the knock downs. Lunch of lamburgers, with potatoes, beetroot and tomatoes was unusually served on a plate, and interesting exercise as anyone who eats regularly on a roller coaster will know.

Dolphin comes to join us and its all cameras to the bow where they ride in our wave. The results are the usual mixed bag of sea, sea and a fin and the odd lucky pre-emptive shot that caught the quarry leaping out of the water. Urban and his video camera have more luck and this is really the best way to capture them.

The evening meal of pre-prepared and heated lasagne was less of a challenge being served in bowls though there was the problem of hanging onto the table.

03012012 At Sea 2

The morning reveals that the Tricolour, our main navigation light has sheared off its mount at the top of the 25metre (85 Feet in old money) mast. It's hanging on by the electrical wiring as mute testimony to the forces acting on it as the mast was swinging through 30 degrees (The unit weighs about half a kilo if you'd care to do the physics/math).

Thoughts of climbing mast to affect a repair are instantly dismissed as those of you who have done the above maths with an increase in weight to a 100kg man will appreciate.

Days are getting longer with Sunset around midnight and Sunrise at three thirty am. The good news is the wind has dropped a little, so full jib again. The seas are down to a longer fetch and 2-3 metres and I managed to return to my bunk without falling out.

Definite confirmation of Antarctic waters as the sea temperature has dropped from 10 to 3C the air temp is around 5.

Ohhhh!!! Thought a disaster was imminent as just got the dreaded blue screen. This concentrates the mind for the need for regularly saving. XP managed to excel itself and backed it up during the crash so not wishing to temp providence too much in one day I'll finish here with news that Peters cooked some brownies and were having afternoon tea!

Bob the Blog