Thursday, December 25, 2008

Xplore Cape Horn / Tierra Del Fuego Report; 25 December 2008

Sometimes you just know when you have "pissed" someone off, and it seems like it must have been Santa Claus! He must have eaten something pretty bad over Chrissy dinner, because in his passing wake of delivering presents, he has had a very bad case of wind which he decided to drop on our door step as we started to sail towards Cape Horn. The day started well with a nice breeze of 18 to 22 knots, dropped as we entered the notorious Bahia Nassau, and then slowly built again until the full force of Santa's farts peaked around the 60 knot mark. For many on board, the feasting and gorging on wonderful Christmas food has sadly been fed to the lovely fish that live in the area. With only nine nautical miles to the safest anchorage we decided to hove-to until the wind abates. The squall lines bring harsh downdrafts, but also such low clouds that in the narrow channels it is difficult and dangerous to continue. So with easing winds we will continue, and hope that our fine French clients will feel a tad better when we tie up in a snug little anchorage. ~ Stephen ED NOTE: Stephen writes that they spent Christmas Eve atPuerto Toro, a hamlet of just a few dozen people on the eastern coast of Navarino Island, Chile; it is presumed they will try again to round Cape Horn and possible land as well.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Xplore: Stanley to Ushuaia - 10 December 2008

So where are we? Well we have just pulled out from Stanley early this morning at first light (4am) - sailing well down the east coast of East Falklands. The boat is in good shape and the team of five is settling in to the motion of the sea again. Audrey is running one watch with clients John and Kris; and I have the other with our second crew member Maria. We have 305nm to go to the northern side of the Straits of Lemaire, and then another 120nm to Ushuaia. The weather forecast is for W to WNW winds over the next two days so hopefully we will have a quick and comfortable passage. ~ Stephen

Friday, December 5, 2008

Xplore South Georgia Expedition 2008: Final Report

Land Ahoy! Alan and John failed to toast Neptune prior to our departure from South Georgia, so Skipper Steve has not had the favorable winds cooperate as he had expected. Nonetheless, after much rocking, rolling and tacking - we are at last making our final approach into Stanley Harbour. With all seven of us packed into the Nav Station, it is beyond a doubt clear that showers and laundry should be a top priority as each of us anxiously awaits that first footfall onto stationary ground. During the voyage a wager was placed regarding who could most closely guess our arrival time at Cape Pembroke. Apparently Audrey had a special connection with Mr Wind, and therefore her time of 5:00pm has won the cash pot, wine and beer. Skipper Steve and his top crew, Audrey and Maria, have once again successfully brought us to our destination with massive cups of tea, delicious gourmet cuisine, and much laughter. Despite the discomforts and night watches, all have had a good trip, we thank them for that. Now Alan and John must depart from our wee family, as they fly home to England and Canada tomorrow. John and Kris will tour around the Falklands and give the crew some space for cleaning, provisioning and repairs, before heading out with Xplore for Ushuaia early next week.

5 Dec. 2008 update

ED note: Last night Stephen reported 100 miles-to-go but tacking all the way, and slow. As of this morning he says they are beating hard in 40 knots and short seas; tired and looking forward to arrival in Stanley soon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Xplore: So Georgia to Stanley 3 Dec. 2008

Can't get the munchkins out of bed!! Anybody would think that today we are cruising down the Nile as the face of the Southern Ocean showed its more tranquil side. Not that it's as calm as a mill pond - and we wouldn't want that either, because there is a race to be won!! 'What race?' you say? Wellllllllll . . . . skipper Stephen emailed the Falklands and booked a table for seven at the Brasserie, which is one of the nice restaurants in Stanley: dinner time is 9pm (UTC -3 hours if you want to work it out) on Friday night and we have 275nm to run, and a new deep low pressure of 967mb due in on Friday So whilst there is a betting sweep (which Kris is running) where for a meager 2 pounds entry, the winner - if they pick the closet time that we cross the official reporting line into the harbour limits, of Cape Pembroke and Mengeary Point - wins the kitty of 14 pounds plus a bottle of wine and a 6-pack of beer!!! 'Nearly as good as winning the national lottery! So the skippers dilemma is this: he runs the water-maker this morning now that it's calm ... this means that without the boat thumping away, people can shower; but instead they just sleep and sleep and sleep ... How can you keep on getting the sail changes done, to keep the speed up so we don't miss the dinner booking? Ahhh: it's tough being an expedition skipper. More news to follow as the time and miles tick on. ~ Stephen

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Xplore: So Georgia to Stanley 2 Dec. 2008

Crash! Boom! Bang! Sailing into headwinds is something I know all too well after the BT Global Challenge in 2000. Everyone onboard was warned what it would be like; and has now experienced a real taste of what Southern Ocean upwind sailing is truly like. With tired faces - and a lack of sense of humor - people clammer around the boat more like ragdolls than the happy penguin-lovers they were only a few days ago. Xplore over the last 20 hours has been sailing hard on the wind in some of the toughest conditions you could put any sailing yacht through. Winds peaked in the high 50's and low 60's with the rigging screeching as we slammed our way across the southern stretch of water that separates South Georgia amd the Falkland Islands. Understanding what a boat can take and is capable of is a combination of experience, and knowledge of the boat you are on. Most aboard just quietly sit and hold on with everything they've got: you can see them sit with their butt cheeks clenched as we fall off another wave, and wait for the expected bang and crash that inevitably comes with gravity. Tonight the winds have eased to a relatively calm 25 to 35 knots; seas are down to 4 to 5 meters, so we have slowed the amount of water constantly pummeling the deck like a high-pressure washer. Today there have been tons and tons of water over the deck; for much of the day the standing order was for wash boards in, and no-one on deck without the Skipper. We are making good ground and speed though; ETA to Stanley is Friday [5 December] if the weather holds, or just in time on Saturday morning for the boys to fly at early afternoon - fingers crossed and knock-on-wood, as all sailors do. ~ Stephen