This is The Not The Mina2 Blog
Date: 08 February 2011
Position: 54:48.35S 068:18.21W Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina
Yet another milestone. In all the years of dreaming and planning I have read so much about Ushuaia – like Balham, the Gateway to the South. Today I flew into this, the southernmost city in the world. Well, it calls itself a city but it is barely a small town, less than a mile across and about three streets deep. Established in 1870 by British missionaries it was a frontier town then, and it is a frontier town now. Looking across the Beagle Channel and just north of Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean, it is probably the windiest city in the world as well. But today it was dry (almost), warm (almost), and only a little breezy. A good day for Ushuaia.
I am here to join Pelagic Australis, a professional expedition sailing yacht, for a three-week trip over to Antarctica as a reconnaissance, and to gain some ice experience for the possible crossing of Mina2 this time next year.
First surprise of the day was at the airport in Buenos Aires where a young lady accosted me. It happens all the time of course, but this one said “Are you Tim Barker?” which was unusual in Buenos Aires at 0900. It turned out to be Laura Parish, First Mate of Pelagic and partner of Pelagic’s skipper Miles Wise. So the research started here and poor Laura was bombarded by me with questions for the whole of the 3 ½ hour flight.
I was met at the airport by Roxanna Diaz, the Yachtsman’s Friend in Ushuaia. She and her husband had been sailing around the world together for 15 years before settling here in Ushuaia where Rox has made it her life’s mission to sort out all and any problems that any visiting yacht may have. Everyone depends on her. She left me at my hotel which she had booked for me and left me to explore the town (it doesn’t take long).
Surprise of the day number 2: everyone says how beautiful is the setting of Ushuaia, but I hadn’t realised quite how beautiful. It is stunning, I am in love with the place already and I can’t wait to bring Mina2 down here.
The majestic Beagle Channel
… with a wrecked ship as a reminder of the conditions that can exist here.
Note the spectacular snow-clad mountains in the background
After a wander around town, I ended up at the yacht club where a small selection of serious looking yachts were tied up including Pelagic Australis where I had a very quick lookaround and met the crew who were busy preparing the provisioning for the cruise.
The yacht club pontoon
…and the first photo (of many) of Pelagic Australis, my home for the next three weeks
With the Falklands / Malvinas almost within sight of Ushuaia, the folk here are still more than a little touchy about the issue, and in prime position on the waterfront is a monument to the conflict and a declaration that they will return.
Malvinas monument … and part of Argentina’s navy
Tomorrow afternoon I join the boat properly and we will take her 25 miles east down the Beagle Channel into Puerto Williams in Chile where the rest of our companions will join us ready for the off on Thursday afternoon round Cape Horn and into Drake Passage, the roughest and windiest stretch of water in the world.
I was rather hoping for some quite extreme conditions for the crossing so that I could experience in the relative comfort and safety of this massively strong yacht with her experienced professional crew what a good blow in Drake Passage is like. However, I’ve been checking the weather forecasts and rather disappointingly at the moment it looks as if we may have no more than a modest breeze for the crossing. But the conditions here can change in five minutes and, as the Chinese say, “Be careful what you wish for!”.
P.S. Enjoy the photos – after tomorrow when I leave Argentina I become bandwith challenged and my blogs will only have the occasional photo until I return in three weeks.
A Routemaster – the third surprise of the day