Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday Monday

There is no such thing as the "Monday Morning Blues" in the Falklands,and that's because its normally grey.

Xplore and the team has been in the Falklands for a couple of weeks,
final preparations for sailing, some much needed fine turing
on Mrs Perkins (our loved generator who has been going through
menopause for some time) and the chance to have time to share with
our many friends that we so rarely get to see.

The late October gales whipped and tore Xplore at the side of the commercial wharf, for 2 weeks we didn't see winds less than 25 knots,for 4 days it didn't get below 35 knots, and peaked at 66 knots and remained over 55 knots for 6 hours (the Falklands has an annual average wind speed of 17 knots)

But even though we were grit blasted with rust from the commercial wharf we were in the safest place that Stanley can offer sailors and their boats, a sad state to the once renowned maritime history of the place which once recorded the port as being the busiest in the world in the late 1800's where in one year they had 777 ships visit,now days you are lucky to tie your dinghy up with out it being destroyed.

Stanley harbour is just littered with decaying, crumpled remains, of tall ships and the docks, from east to west there is that deathly feeling there to remind you that if you stay too long you will become the same way.

Our client for this years South Georgia adventure arrived late on Saturday,jet lagged but excited, we traveled the dusty road to Stanley at dusk. Otto and Mischa had both visited the Falklands before, as avid bird watchers the Falklands excels itself as one of the great bird locations of the world, but for Murray and Rebecca this was their first time, eyes wide open and lots of questions.

The forecast for departure was mixed, we either took our chances of luck and departed that night with a tired bunch, and a mixed bag of weather looming above our heads, as skipper I was uneasy with this, even if we had a crack team of sailors, I chose to stay over night and get fresh weather information in the morning, and let the team sleep.

Dawn breaks early this far south, at 4 am I sat at the computer and the weather wasn't looking any better, if not more confusing as the satellite image and the GRIB files were strange ( GRIB means girded reference in binary code, digital weather data that gives prognostic forecast)

There was a small but intensifying low pressure cell to the NNW of the Falklands and it looked stubborn, if we left now it was a 50 / 50 chance of a favorable wind direction.

By midday that had changed to 30 / 70 chance of favorable, and by 1800 it was 0 chance, what had looked touch and go turned out to be an easterly gale, diffidently not what anyone needs to go to South Georgia.

Though we were held in port for 24 hours, the time was still well used, safety briefings, getting to know the boat and some time to walk and see Stanley before the 700 nautical mile crossing to South Georgia.

Grey Monday morning came, and by 10 am the sun was starting to break through the clouds, as the winds eased from the SE and shifted into the south, the sign I had been waiting for.

A lumpy sea greeted us at the heads, and everyone knew that it was going to be a washing machine out side, The sailing was fast, but the stomachs weren't so strong, the rough conditions put half the team into their bunks pretty fast, the best place to be.

In the first 24 hours we traveled 201 nautical miles, now as I write it will be 304 miles in 36 hours, the pace is fast and the wait for the extra day has paid off with cold icy winds of the SW pushing us fast to the animal paradise of the southern ocean.


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