Monday, November 30, 2015

Plenty Convivial

The weather was a big part of our crossing from Chile to the Falklands.  The biggest.  We bought ourselves a little luck by leaving when we did and taking the chance to move fast when we could and found ourselves just south of a little low pressure system.

All day on the second day of the crossing we could watch the edge of the low (above).  On the south side we had gentle southeasterlies, and then when the low had passed us by we finished with southwesterlies.  Perfect.

Cape petrels
 It was also a great trip for pelagic seabirds.
Giant petrel
Elias is mad for photographing them.  He stands in the cockpit for an hour at a time, wielding a point and shoot set to maximum zoom.
Royal albatross
 Needless to say, these are not his pictures.
Antarctic fulmar

Royal albatross and giant petrel

That picture above would be when the southwesterlies found us.  We have some spare 10mm wire set up as our aft lower on the port side (thank you, Jonathan!), so we were happy to be on port tack when the breeze came in.

Above and below - approaching Stanley.

And below - the town itself.

And we came to rest here - tied in behind some local draggers at the Falkland Islands Company jetty, in company with a handful of yachts.  The sailing scene here is about an order of magnitude smaller than the scene at the Micalvi in Puerto Williams.  Plenty convivial though.

Time's Up

La cena
I suppose that it's inevitable that we would find ourselves leaving Puerto Williams, and Chile, with a few things undone.

I had really meant to take a picture of the family in front of the Yelcho, the boat that rescued the crew of the Endurance from Elephant Island - the bow of the Yelcho is set up as a sort of monument in Puerto Williams.  Never got around to it.

Likewise, Alisa had meant to make empanadas with Francis and Mauro (in pics above and below) before we left.  We almost made that one, but then the right weather for leaving put us in final departure mode and we had to cancel.

The Micalvi
I meant, too, to write at some point about some of the social nights at the Micalvi.  The bar is closed, but the ship is still open to sailors for socializing, and we had some great nights there, rubbing elbows with sailors from a great swath of nations who were all united in some vision of the same quest that had brought us all to that point.

Those get-togethers were a phenomenon of the winter.  When summer came around people started to come through on a quick schedule, and the social cohesion of the scene disappeared.

Nick's 60th
I never got around to taking a picture of the Alaskan flag that we left, either.  Elias and I put the flag, with our name and home port on it, up on the wall of the Micalvi on our very last day there.  It joined a host of strangers' flags, and a couple flags with familiar names (below).

If you stop by the Micalvi, make sure that it's still hanging there for us.  It's the only Alaskan flag, and in our haste we could only find three tacks for hanging it on the wall.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It was our first passage since we arrived in Valdivia, Chile, nearly a year ago.

I took most of the night watch, with Alisa giving me a break between midnight and three. When I took over again at three it was already light on the horizon. She was glad at my seeming selflessness at taking so much of the night, but I explained that I was happy to do the lion's share of daytime sleeping and let her ride herd on our over-rested, antsy kids.

All day, two days ago, we watched a small low pressure system moving from west to east across our path, just as predicted by the weather model.

We were well at sea. Out of sight of land and enjoying steady southeasterly winds on the south side of the low. The sun did its best impression of shining - quite a good effort for these latitudes. We were visited by a steady parade of swooping tubenoses: Cape petrels, black-browed albatross, giant petrels, the occasional storm petrels, the truly massive royal and wandering albatross.

After the low passed we found ourselves in the southwesterlies in its wake, driving us strait towards East Falkland. We had stumbled on the completely perfect weather pattern for the passage. We couldn't have planned it better.

Elias was the first to sight land. He got to choose which packet of cookies we would open for our landfall celebration.

We notified Stanley harbour control of our intention to anchor for the night. A drive through impressive kelp beds brought us to the head of a sandy cove with all the wind you could want. Alisa spotted our first-ever gentoo penguin before the pick was down.

Alisa and I were up again at four to make the 80 miles to Stanley. We had a fast sail, and got to fly the spinnaker in the lull before a front caught us up and had us down to three reefs. We had to remind ourselves of how the weather changes arrive in the South - suddenly and hard.

And just like that, there we were, tying up at the jetty in Stanley next to our mates on Lille d'Elle, who had come out from Ushuaia on the same weather window as us. The customs officer was extremely helpful and cleared us in quickly. We all had a meal and Alisa and I knocked back a celebratory bottle of Chilean wine. Outside, the landscape was so different from the grandeur of continental South America. The town, Alisa noticed, was so neat and litter-free. And now, we have it all to discover.