Farewell Party for Linda & John

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Sun 18 Dec 2011 19:31


Date: 18 December 2011



Whilst Linda & John went off to the Tierra del Fuego National Park for a relaxing four-hour walk, the work of your long-suffering skipper continued. I had a long list of tasks to complete. One was to refuel with diesel for our long trip to Antarctica in a couple of weeks – and not just the main diesel tank but also the 20 jerry cans which would double our capacity (and without which we would not, for instance, be able to use our diesel burning cabin heater – so quite important). In total I needed to buy 750 litres. That’s the best part of three-quarters of a ton. Almost everywhere in the world, you simply go alongside the fuel pontoon and they pump the said 750 litres into your tanks. Simples. Not in Ushuaia.


Here you have to refuel by hand pump from enormous 200 litre drums. And they are not exactly delivered to your boat. First you have to find (in my case, four) empty drums. Then you call a taxi-lorry and load them up (it needs two people and, at this stage, the drums are still empty). You then go in the lorry to the petrol station 20 minutes away, fill them up, pay for itall (which was a saga in itself) and return; get the barrels off the lorry (they now weigh a quarter of a ton each) and man-haul them the several hundred yards down the rickety pontoon to the boat; borrow a hand-pump and then transfer the nectar liquid individually into the jerries and into the main tank. I’d just got to the very last bit when Linda and John returned from their relaxing walk. “Have you managed to get anything done Tim, or have you been sleeping?” Hahaha. Very funny. John wasn’t laughing so much when he’d hand-cranked 750 litres into the jerries – and double fast because we were expecting guests any second.


As a suitable send-off for Linda and John after our epic 5-week cruise, we had invited a number of people round for drinks. As it was raining (actually, the first rain we’ve had since Stanley) we were all down below – about 16 in total, so quite snug particularly as Linda was now taking up the space of about three people. The guests ranged from the German/Chilean family on PolarWind that I had first met in Buenos Aires; the Swedish, Welsh and Canadian crew from Dawnbreaker that we first bumped into in the Falkland Islands, our new Norwegian friends from Anne Marie who had lent me the handpump; the French skipper/owner of the big Podorange that is alongside me; the Argentine Roxanna who has been sorting everything out for me, and Jonathan her English husband. Talk about the United Nations. But whatever the country they were from, they knew how to party and a good time was had by all.


This morning Linda and John finally packed their bags and, with tears in all our eyes after such a fantastically memorable five weeks, left for the airport to return to Buenos Aires for a night of tango dancing before heading back to London tomorrow. They were worried about carrying a bit of excess luggage. I would have been more worried about how Linda was ever to get on the plane – probably by fork-lift truck straight into the hold. It’s really quite humiliating seeing one’s sister let herself go so much and so quickly.