58:45.00S 62:33.00W. Wednesday the 19th December 2012 - Drak e Passage.

Matt Stafford and Rohan Buckley
Wed 19 Dec 2012 23:37

Currently sailing south to Antarctica in the Drake Passage and having a whale of a time, with strong easterly winds and short choppy seas.  Not the sort of conditions we expected as winds are usually westerly and much bigger seas.  The un-predominant east winds we are experiencing are due to the fact there is a big storm several hundred miles north of us, and it has been quiet in this part of the southern ocean for a few weeks so we are not seeing the big rolling seas that this sea is notorious for.  Either way we are making good time and sailing strong.


We left Ushuaia on the evening of Sunday the 16th December and spent the next 24 hours sailing east out of the Beagle Channel.  The conditions were light so we motored more than we hoped but out into the open sea in good time.  Having put as much fuel as we can on board with extra jerry cans etc, we now have to be very careful about using the engine as there will be no opportunity to refuel in Antarctica and there is a long way to go including getting back.  


Our short stay in Ushuaia (about 10 days) was a busy one getting the yacht prepped for the sail south.  There was the usual various repairs, tweaking and playing with the yacht itself, including the fitting of the new mainsail that arrived from Buenos Aires.  There was also a lot of shopping and sorting out the interior to fit all the food needed for the next 6 weeks.  To do this we had to put a lot of kit ashore in storage that is not essential for the southern ocean which in Ushuaia, as with a lot of things, turned out to be a nightmare to organise but happened all the same.  We also received our fifth and final crew member Kate, who flew in on Friday the 15th from London a tad jet lagged but keen and ready to go.  We stayed at the local marina / yacht club outboard of Daryl and Cath on their Antarctic charter yacht ‘Icebird’ whom we met in Stanley in the Falklands.  We had a few good nights out with them (fellow Aussies..) and they helped us out immensely with advice and their local knowledge.


So, after a last few days rushing about getting the last of the shopping, topping up on gas etc we sailed in high spirits (not just from the night before.. ;) ) and are now well into the Drake Passage on our way to Deception Island.  There were reports of icebergs throughout the Drake Passage but as of yet we haven’t seen any.  I suppose we will see them soon enough ;). 


Cheers all and Deception Island here we come……..


Matt, Rohan, Tina, Nigel and Kate


PS.  Due to the fact that all emails are now from our satellite phone we will not be able to send any photos for a while.  A real shame not to visually share Antarctica with you in the short term, but we will make it up to all when we get WIFI again which may not be until we get back to the mainland in late January.  We shall see……..