Confessions of a Whale Basher.....

Steve Powell
Thu 23 Dec 2010 14:04

Yes, we must confess that there is almost certainly a large whale out there somewhere with a rather large headache. I went and dived the hull today, water temp 9 degrees C, full dry suit and every set of thermals I have underneath, to inspect for any damage after our unexplained ‘bump’ the other day.  On examination there are two large scrape marks on the lower leading edge of the keel, it has rubbed right through the Coppercoat anti-foul and primer, right down to the lead. Other than that fortunately no damage. It’s looks very likely that we had a glancing encounter with a large soft but very abrasive object. Had it been a floating container, or other hard object, the damage would have been considerably more and different. We were too far north for ice, so it really only leaves the larger mammals, whales.

Local sailors say this is a very rare occurrence, but our experience so far suggests that ‘rare’ is normal for UHURU.

One of the complaints from the last blog was the lack of pictures, “walls of water two stories high” etc,. Well there are a couple or three reasons..... One, most of it happened at night!!
Two, we were kind of busy at the time.... But the worst and most disappointing answer is that, as every sailor knows, cameras seem to flatten out water and what you know as a nightmare wall of water, looks quite tame in a picture.

The best we found was this picture of Chris looking very casual as 20ft of water headed his way....

On a more sobering note, two Polish sailors lost their lives in the storm that we avoided by staying in Punta del Este. They got caught out down near the Horn and were both washed overboard. It is not my intent to worry or panic anyone with this news, but just to always remind ourselves of the dangers so that we make sure that we always put safety first. It’s important to constantly remind oneself that this is the South Atlantic and it can be very unforgiving. So for every success we experience, we must still avoid complacency. Our thoughts are with their families.

Our arrival in Port Stanley shortly after dawn on Monday was an emotional moment not just because of the trials and tribulations of the previous days, but because of the whole history of the Falklands. Flying the Blue Ensign in through the Narrows to Port Stanley harbour was a high point in this adventure and the end of Leg 7. I have studied the charts of this entry so many times just imagining what it will be like, almost wishing myself there.  When I sat down to plan this leg back last May, I had us arriving on the morning of the 21st December. Well we left Grenada on the 1st of October and after 81 days, and 6,476 nautical miles we arrived 24 hours a ahead of schedule. Smug, me... Never. I just love it when a plan goes well. Any sailor will tell you that this is also ‘rare’.

We all pose in the dawn light as we enter Port Stanley, Mount Lowe in the background. Dawn light can be very flattering :-).

Our welcome has been fantastic, from the Customs and Immigration officer who couldn’t have been nicer, to all the people who just walked up to the boat and introduced themselves, and offered help if we needed it. Tony Blake, President of the Falkland Islands Yacht Club, heard our radio traffic as we were coming in, immediately jumped in his car and drove down to welcome us and since then has been a constant source of help and advice. We had supper at The Victory pub that evening and everyone knew who we were, “Off that boat then?”.

The last couple of days have been frantically busy, making repairs and starting the preparations for the next leg. Maintenance and repairs continues to be a non-stop chore. This time we had to fix the water-maker feeder pump; seized, the tender davits; skipper broke it again, Main sheet winch electrics; just stopped working, freezer compressor; thermostat fried, several door catches & locks; bashed into submission by the weather, we even had to repair the Ensign also bashed into submission and frayed by the winds. All this has been going on with howling winds of over 40kts whipping across our bows and healing the boat over while tied securely, I hope, to the FIPASS dock. Highest recorded so far was yesterday at 47 1/2 knots.

UHURU on FIPASS dock with Port Stanley behind.

Cameron and David, building a make shift double glazing system for UHURU to reduce the effect of condensation when we head to Antarctica. The Ukraine Captain of the tanker ‘Sealion’, Uri, came to visit as he is a sailor and after a tour of UHURU he invited the lads on for a tour of his tanker. Which they loved, full tour, Bridge to engine room, the works. They then invited ALL the crew over to UHURU for a tour!! Fortunately, not all of them came over but we had a great time showing them around and comparing ‘facilities’! A really nice bunch of guys, great fun, ‘Hands across the seas’ and all that.

We haven’t even began to explore the Islands yet, we’ve been too busy. But just looking around us is dramatic enough. Stanley Harbour is littered with rotting wrecks that go back to the classic clipper days of trade around Cape Horn, circa 1850-70.

Port Stanley with the wreck of the Lady Elizabeth in the foreground, UHURU far left.

The Lady Elizabeth against the colours and spectacle of the Falkland landscape.

David and Tamsin have seen penguins, the rest of us, who didn’t go hiking in a Force 7, haven’t yet. But we will.

So we are trying to get as much done as we can now so that we can relax for Christmas and maybe go on an adventure or two after Christmas, exploring the islands.

We are all now getting into the Christmas spirit, Christmas carols with supper last night. Our Christmas tree is up, and the “Ugliest Father Christmas Ever” is on display.

Luv to all


Steve, David, Tamsin, Chris & Cameron

23rd December 2010

Steve Powell (Owner/Skipper)

UHURU of Lymington
Mob: +(44) 7774 423 449
email: Steve {CHANGE TO AT} uhuru {DOT} mailasail {DOT} com
Boat Sat: +(870) 7731 500353
Skype: stevepowell9999