Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good Golly Miss Molly

The blow from yesterday had left both of us tired and exhausted, we had traveled fast with the strong northerly winds to be met by the tightly spinning centre of the low.

We had seen it coming in the forecasts, but the waiting game and mental preparation take more out of you than the blow itself.

It came, it went, we survived, with winds peaking at 39 knots, it was not one of the worst blows that we have seen here in the south by a long shot, but it was our first for the season.

The night went slow, as finally the winds started to ease, the seas were like a washing machine which meant that no mater how much sail you have up, the only way to keep head way and movement was to motor sail.

Dawn light started to creep into the skies just after 5am, no other vessels around we plodded on towards Stanley.

I gathered up enough energy to venture on deck to shake some reefs out of the main sail, I had wanted to for some time but my desire and strength of action didnt match.

The day was looking beautiful, maybe thats where the extra strength had come from, crisp morning light where the air has been totally cleansed by yersterdays storm, the air though, still had its cutting sting to it, a quick reminder of what sailing in the south is like.

I preped the main sheet and then headed to the mast, the boat was still moving in an uncoordinated way as the seas were still unpredictable. My decision to shake out the reefs were to give us more power and to stabilize the boat, we currently still had 4 reefs in and I needed to remove 2.

The lines which are normally strapped to the deck with clip ties were looking like a mad womans breakfast, they had been washed and swirled around all of last night where we had been taking tons of water over the decks.

I started to free and sort the lines to be able to raise the main sail, 4th reef out, hoist the main, 3rd reef out, hoist the main, re-sort and tidy. The chill of this morning southerly air also meant that all the lines were icy and cold, my hands were numbed, ohhh I remeber that feeling, but as yet my hands havent grown the thick skin layer that we get each season from working for months in the cold cold south.

One more line to coil, and for Molly her life line, I looked down at the deck and curled up within the lines she lay. At first I thought she was dead. I bent and checked, and my heart went out for her.

There she was soaked and drowned like a rat, I couldnt believe that she was still alive after yesterdays and last nights storm, but closer I looked and I saw the faintest sign of life, a breath or a slight movement in her limbs.

I reached out to her, and she didnt hesitate, with a soft nudge she accepted my hand and came. Molly could have been like any other casualty at sea, gone and never forgotten, but this cold sunny morning she had been given another life.

I carried Molly to the warmth of the Dog House and settled her down, there were rays of sun light coming through the side windows facing east and she flopped immediatly in a bath of warm, life giving sun light.

The more I spend out at sea, with nature, the more I realise how every living creature, IS a living creature like we are, some days are good and some days are bad, we are born and we die, the question is just when.

Molly is a "Moth" I named her that this morning, she has been sitting and recovering in the Xplore herb garden which is there in the Dog House window.

Nice to feel like you have done something nice, even for a little creature.

Stephen Lat 47 42 S Lon 58 50 W Course 176 Speed 6.8 knots,

wind 11 knots direction 265, Temp 5 C

Monday, October 11, 2010

Half an hour can be special

Golden rays of light, so strong in colour density that you could eat them.

The sun dips to the edge of the horizon but doesnt give the green flash of love.

The dolphins rise high into the sky as they jump from the bow waves.

The steady winds slip across the sails, helpful hands taking us softly south.

The cresent moon and the evening star are so bright and clear, the night is near.

The warm days light, is replaced by moist air, the close of a perfect day.

The stealthy mist creeps into every space, the deck becomes damp and the windows fog.

Soon we are wrapped for bed, the fog is all around, the world outside cant be seen or found.

Stephen 38 31 South 56 32 west, course 224 T, speed 7.5, temp 12

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Go to sea and stop being a gringo !

Living in South America as a foreigner will always mean that you are a gringo, especially if you are blond !

No matter how well your spanish becomes, you are still a gringo !

Xplore headed to sea today after a busy but very productive winter re-fit, modifications and maintenance.

The time in the sleepy Uruguayan port of Piriapolis went smoothly, less rushed than previous years, with Audrey and myself having a good work and daily routine.

The changes that we have made will make everyone who sails on board happy, we certainly love the new fabrics in the saloon and some great new electronics that will make navigating and exploring in the south just that much easier, safer and interesting for everyone (special thanks to Charles at Interphase and Juan from Evolutions)

We had a busy but relaxed sort of a week, most times before heading to sea it is just plain pandemonium, not enough hours in the day and too much to do, this time we made it different. There was another good weather window one week before, but there were still a few things to do and we wanted to have the chance to take a breath before jumping back into the South.

Being "Gringoed" was all part of this last week, the taxi driver that we used to go to the airport to clear out immigrations wanted to charge us an extra 14 USD for having to wait an extra 5 minutes in a free standing zone ! and the fruit and veg man who brought down to us this morning some excellent products but started by saying that it was just a tiny bit more expensive than he had quoted, but landed us a bill that was 35% more expensive ! ah the blond hair and a nice boat doesnt help much !

But we slipped the dock with a zepher of a breeze, we headed from the ports break water and I quickly saw that our boat speed impellor log was not functioning (now for most sailors you know that with no boat speed log reading then there cant be an auto pilot) opppps better fix that.

There is a couple of options to fix this, as the problems wasnt that the log impellor wasnt working because we had only re-installed it 2 days ago and we had checked that is delivered a reading, but the problem was that eventhough I had dived on the hull to clean the propellor I had not gone forward to clean the opening around where the speed log comes through. But the hull was generally nicely clean, but if there is a barrier of growth just in front of the speed log then nothing works. So option 1: you either open the hull fitting there in the water, remove the speed log fitting whilst filling the boat with salt water and try and scratch around the out side of the hull from the inside and clear any barnicles or growth (messy and fills the boat with bad salt water which we have to pump out) or Option 2: is to dive over the side with a scrapper and brush and do it in the water !! (not so nice as even up here the water is not that warm, and certainly not that clean).

So as we were only minutes away from the marina, and the boat next to us had their zodiac in the water which would make it easy, so the easiest and fastest option was to dive into the water.

Audrey and I took the boat back in (all the friends had disapeared luckily so we didnt have wave hello with red faces, like the good by that we had just done 15 minutes before) dropped along side our friends boat with just needing one line and a few fenders.

I jumped below to get my bathers and goggles out with a scrapper and Audrey preped the dinghy. Splish splash I jumped into the drink, boy thats a tad cool, but under I went and found the problem, a couple of scrapes and I was out of breath so a quick exit to the surface and gasped for air as I came up next to the zodiac. Well as I was gasping for air there was tense scream from the zodiac, seems that when I hit the surface I blew out all of the water in the snorkel, bit of a shame that it was pointed straight at Audrey who wore the whole lot (hmm some kisses and a cuppa needed to compensate).

Back on board I quickly dried off with white fingers from cold, re started the engine and like a Formular 1 race Audrey and I were back at sea. The log span round and round and Arnie the auto pilot was happy.

We head directly to the Falklands with just the two of us sailing Xplore, we had hoped for our third crew but due to family problems they had to cancel at the last minute, we thank Mike at Pantaenius who has insured us for 4 years, great bloke, and he knows that Audrey and I have sailed Xplore in some tough conditions for a long time now.

The seas are smooth as we slip out of the River Plate, 1000 nautical miles to Stanley, Falkland Islands, Xplore couldnt be in better condition and we look forward to another great season.

If you havent seen as yet we have also posted below and on the website our plan for a Pacific tour which will take us across to Australia and New Zealand after this season in the south.

Looking forward to sharing more great stories as we sail the Southern Oceans.

Stephen, Audrey and the fat english girl XPLORE ! Latutude 36 South 55 34 West, course196 speed 7.7 knots, outside temperature 13 C

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pacific Ocean Adventure 2011

After 8 years of expedition sailing in Tierra Del Fuego, Antarctica and South Georgia its time to take this fair yacht to some different and warmer waters to show her the other side of the world.

Join Xplore for a multi stage voyage that will cross the Pacific Ocean and take us all the way to Tasmania, Australia with a variety of interesting island stops along the way.

If you only have a short time, then there are sections that will suit, or if you have always dreamt of sailing across the Pacific then what better way, or boat to do it in comfort and in a short period of time.

The Adventure Starts:

Leg 1: Depart Punta Arenas Thursday 14th of April

3 days cruising the Straits of Magellan through to the western reaches that open into the Pacific. Visiting the Island of Charles the 3rd, famous for whales, and enjoy a few Fuegan anchorages as we prepare for our first ocean leg to Easter Island.

Leg one 2400 nautical miles, time length 21 days, arrive Easter Island 5th May

Leg 2

Easter Island, we will have a few days for everyone to explore this magical tropical island steeped in history and ancient pacific myths. We depart Easter Island Monday 9th of May and set sail for Pitcairn island, 1130 nautical miles away where we will have a brief stop there for a day or two before heading further west to New Zealand.

Leg two 4,000 nautical miles, time length 25 days, arrive Auckland 2nd June

Leg 3

Auckland New Zealand, some time on shore there in Auckland, the largest city and sailing centre of New Zealand, we depart Monday 6th of June and venture into the Bay of Islands to relax and explore the myriad of islands before heading across the Tasman sea to Tasmania.

As we cross and enter the famous Bass Straits we plan to stop for a day in the remote Flinders Island. First destination in Tasmania will be Beauty Point, Tamar river in the North East of Tasmania.

Leg three 1,510 nautical miles, time length 9 days, arrive Beauty Point 14th June

Leg 4

Tasmanian tour, we leave Beauty Point Monday 20th of June in the NE and cruise the North, East and enter the south coast of Tasmania with our arrival into Hobart the capital of Tasmania. Visiting along the way the Bay of Fires, Wine Glass Bay, Coles Bay.

Hobart with its magical water front port is a marvel of history, architecture, great restaurants and the famous Salimanca markets on Saturdays, 4 to 5 days to enjoy Hobart and then we head to the West of Tasmania to the wild country.

Stopping at Port Davey, only access is by boat or sea plane, we will enjoy this remote area before heading north along the west coast to the also remote and rarely visited King Island, located in the western side of Bass Strait, it has a reputation of some of the most sought after dairy products, cheeses and free range beef.

From King Island we sail NW past Kangaroo Island and Back Stairs Passage to make land fall in Adelaide in the Spencer Gulf. Hoes to some of the best Australian wines, Adelaide and the hills regions is a wonderful place for exploring, enjoying great foods and wines, with its maritime history of the days of the grain races there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Leg four 1,040 nautical miles, time length 13 days, arrive Adelaide 3rd July

Leg 5

Xplore departs Adelaide Monday the 11th of July and heads back to the east to Sydney. On route we plan to stop for a day in the port of Eden, on the SE corner of Australia, famous as a fishing port and town, also for the killer whales which have been in residence within the bay, at times working with the fishermen in catching fish.

Leg five 880 nautical miles, time length 6 days, arrive Sydney 16th July

Leg 6

Sydney harbour is a dream harbour, inlets bays, anchorages and one of the most exciting cities of the world, we will spend a week in Sydney so there is time to enjoy and explore this breathtaking city, climb the Sydney harbour bridge, visit the blue mountains, or maybe a classical concert or play at the well recognised Sydney Opera House.

We depart Sydney on the 23rd of July and head a short distance north to the wonderful river inlets of the Pittwater and Hawkesbury rivers, and few days to relax and unwind from our Sydney city experience in this very picturesque location.

We depart Pittwater / Hawkesbury on the 27th of July and head north along the Australian coast to the Queensland Territories, where we find one of the wonders of the world, The Great Barrier Reef.

We may make a short stop at South Port before heading to the Whitsunday Islands which is the start and Mecca of this tropical play ground.

Time to relax in the sun and crystal waters, we will have 10 days exploring the island bays with silica white sands, and make a trip to the Great Barrier reef before returning to Shute Harbour.

Leg six, 1,200 nautical miles, time length 24 days, arrive Shute Harbour 13th of August

Leg 7

Whitsundays to Wellington New Zealand, an ocean crossing of 1,830 nautical miles, will take us to the impressive volcanic harbour that is secretly tucked away in the Cook Straits.

Four days in Wellington, often called Windy Wellington, we travel a short distance across the Cook Straits to the area that Captain Cook loved as his favourite area to stop for winter periods the Queen Charlot Sounds on the tip to the NZ south Island where we will have a few days to see this peaceful part of the country..

Leg seven, 2,100 nautical miles, 20 days, finishes in Queen Charlot Sound 2nd September

Leg 8

South Island New Zealand

Queen Charlot Sound to Christchurch, we depart and sail to the eastern reaches of the Cook Straits before heading south to the harbour city of Christchurch where we will stop for a few days.

Further south we travel along the east coast to visit Duneden before heading to the most southern Stewart Island which is a wonderful remote and intriguing island, animals like the Kiwi can be seen, and the walks and bays are stunning.

We head back to the main south island to the port of Bluff on the southern tip to prepare for the next great adventure.

Leg eight, 630 nautical miles, arrive Bluff 22nd of September

Leg 9

Bluff South Island to the New Zealand Sub Antarctic islands.

At this stage we are applying for permits for a “Friends and Family” trip to the new Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands.

We expect to voyage and explore these wonderful and remote animal islands for 1 month

Leg nine, 1,000 nautical miles, arrive Christchurch October 30th

Leg 10

Christchurch to Tierra Del Fuego.

We take Xplore back to the South American territories and continue the adventure sailing in the south. This is an ocean passage experience for keen sailors who want to gain miles and serious sailing experience.

Leg ten, 4,200 nautical miles of straight sailing, arrive Tierra Del Fuego 1st of December.