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

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