Saturday, November 29, 2008

Xplore departs So Georgia Island: 29 Nov. 2008

We have left South Georgia this morning at first light (3am) and had one hell of a windy day, with toooo much ice around. We were hoping to be able to depart along the southern coast as the forecast favored it, but on rounding Cape Disappointment, we were sorely 'disappointed' - large seas were tearing small bergs and growlers from the huge tabular "floating ice islands" that are grounded along the SE corner of the island's continental shelf; making it impossible to get sail on and the boat off a safe course without constantly dodging ice with in the wave crests. We turned back around. In passing our anchorage that we had left four hours before, we faced a slow slog up the northeastern coast. The winds came, they went; they changed, and then increased ... mid-afternoon saw us with winds above 50 knots, four reefs, partially furled Yankee and staysail ... We plodded on. As the day dragged on and our energy started to wane, the winds slowly eased, but just as the relief of easy sea started to appear, the night and ice crept upon us. At 2245 I was awaken by Audrey and Allan, as they had a large berg 2.4nm close by on radar, with low cloud surrounding us. I checked our course and speed but also saw that the ice berg was large (1.2nm in size) and 5 degrees off our desired course, and we didn't have any light to safely skirt it. So stop, we had to: the growlers and small ice that floats down to leeward often can't be seen on radar. Frustrating as it is, it does allow everyone and every thing on board to regather some strength and the senses of humor for hopefully a better, more productive day of sailing tomorrow. The slow progress today just now means we are chasing a tight deadline for the two boys' flights in Stanley. ~ Stephen

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