Plans For The Great Southern Adventure

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Wed 16 Nov 2011 10:59

Position: 37:59.88S 056:23.90W

Date: 16 November 2011

Time: 0800 L 1100 UTC


Sorry to have started the blog yesterday with a rant about the bloody bureaucrats in Buenos Aires. In fairness to them, they did say that the last time someone applied for a permit to go to the Falklands direct from Buenos Aires was about four years ago, since when all the rules have changed so I suppose it was hardly surprising that none of them had a clue what they were talking about.


I should of course have started with a run down on what our plans are for this season. They boil down into four almost separate cruises.

  1. November/December - The Falkland Islands cruise
  2. January - the epic and challenging Antarctic cruise
  3. February/March - the Beagle Channel cruise
  4. March/April - the cruise back up the coast of South America to Brazil


First off, and the one we have just started, is a long 1100 mile passage from Buenos Aires to the Falkland Islands. This should take about 8 to 10 days. We will clear into Port Stanley on the east side of the islands and then spend a couple of weeks heading round the south coast of the islands to the western end. The Falklands are renowned for their wildlife – penguins, seals and birds in particular - and this is what we are going for. Joining me on this leg I have my sister, Linda and her hubby John, both keen naturalists. Linda is about 5’2” and John is 6’9” – Little and Large. John keeps on banging his head on things; he can’t sit in the cockpit and get his head under the sprayhood without cricking his neck; he does the washing up kneeling down, and there isn’t a bed long enough on the boat to accommodate him (apart from mine and he’s certainly not having that), so he curls up on the curved cushions in the saloon like a Cumberland sausage. Meanwhile, Linda almost has to stand on a stool to do the washing up.


John and Linda have their own Oyster 47 which they have been adventurously cruising for the last eight years and have crossed the Atlantic twice so they are both very experienced sailors and whilst this is the first time they have been cruising on Mina2, it is so similar to their boat they know their way around. This makes life very easy for me.


I would like to report that our first couple of days we’ve been roaring along with a stiff offshore breeze on the beam, but to do so would be very far from the truth. The fact is that either there has been insufficient wind to sail, or it has been coming from dead ahead. We have been pinned in by the shallow coast on our starboard side and to sail into the wind on the other tack we would be heading for South Africa, which is not the plan. Consequently in the last 40 hours we had only been able to sail for 5 hours – the rest of the time we have been motoring. Thank God we had the jerry cans on board that we will need for extra fuel in Antarctica. We filled these up before we left and it looked like we would be using them all up.


We have just passed the resort town of Mar Del Plata and the Argentine coast is sweeping to the west. This has enabled us to set our sails and, at last, turn the bloody engine off. What bliss.


We are now out to sea, rather than being in the sweet, warm, muddy waters of the River Plate. Yesterday I was in the cockpit wearing my swimming shorts, the temperature nudging 30 degrees. This morning I came on deck and it was absolutely freezing in comparison. The water temperature had fallen overnight from 28 degrees to 15 degrees and the air temperature accordingly. The thermal underwear is beckoning.


Early this morning, Linda and John started seeing a lot more seabirds swooping around, and we had our first visit from a pod of dolphins. Things are good on the good ship Mina2.