Land of Fire

Noon Position: 53 39.4 S 067 06.9 W
Course: Southwest Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind: South sou' east F3gentle breeze
Weather: Overcast, cold
Day's Run: 94 nm

W continue to make slow steady progress towards Le Maire Strait. Yesterday afternoon at 3.50 I reset the mainsail with a hip, hip hooray, the repair didn't look too bad. And from a recent email I have received from Pato the sail maker in Mar Del Plata I think (not sure due to some language difficulties) that my new mainsail is almost ready.

For most of last night we ha a light northerly and ran before it wing on wing, I felt very lucky to have such pleasant weather. I wonder how long it will last. A low pressure system is passing to the north of us, consequently we now have light sou' easterlies which I expect will veer and freshen later in the day.

Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, is in sight to the south. My plan is to close the coast to have a look at its rugged landscape and to seek a lee if the wind should strengthen appreciably,

Tierra del Fuego got its name from the local Indians; they did not know how to start a fire so carried fire with them, including in their bark canoes, consequently the early explorers could see everywhere smoke moving through the mountains, along the coast and through the bays. The Indians are extinct from this region now, no more trails of smoke dot the landscape, the contact with the west as for most primitive indigenous populations was fatal, through a combination of callous greed and misplaced good intentions. And unfortunately Charles Darwin who was relatively enlightened for the period was uncharacteristically harsh in his judgment of their culture and is partly to blame for their inevitable demise this intelligent, hardy and well adapted people.

Reflections on San Julian.

In a small square in San Julian is a sleek jet fighter, a Mirage Dagger, set up as a monument to the Falklands (Malvinas) War. The square is called "Heroes de Malvinas", and my tourist brochure has the following to say about it: "The Mirage Dagger is a tribute to those who fought in the Malvinas defending sovereignty. This plane was the protagonist of the first mission in the Islands. It took off on May 1st, 1982 from the military base of Puerto San Julian."

A book I am reading at the moment, "The Anatomy of Criticism" by Northrop Frye has something to say that seems coincidentally relevant. Here he is writing about what he calls comic fictional modes:

"Cultivated people go to a melodrama to hiss the villain with an air of condescension: they are making a point of the fact that they cannot take the villainy seriously. We have here a type of irony which exactly corresponds to that of two other major arts of the ironic age, advertising and propaganda. These arts pretend to address themselves seriously to a subliminal audience of cretins, an audience that may not even exist, but which is assumed to be simple-minded enough to accept at face value the statements made about the purity of soap or a government's motives. The rest of us, realizing that irony never says precisely what it means, take these arts ironically, or, at least, regard them as a kind of ironic game."

Thus far the Argentineans I have talked to where the subject of the Malvinas/Falklands has come up give a wry smile as if to underline that indeed this 'subliminal audience of cretins' does not exist.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

I have been sleeping on this latitude and longitude debacle, and have come to the conclusion that maybe the skipper is holding his globe sideways, so instead of following the balmy equatorial route we are descending into the cold southern latitudes. Surely he wouldn't knowingly subject me to these conditions - cold and rough. Surely he will realize his mistake soon, hopefully before we reach the frozen continent which rumor h as it lies ahead of us, and head us in the right direction. The food hasn't improved one jot, I await Adrian's red cross parcel with increasing impatience. Meantime all I can do is snuggle down and . . . Zzzzzzzz.