Into The Drake.
Hola from halfway across the Drake Passage!
We left Puerto Williams, Chile three and a half days ago after refueling, provisioning and a day's break. It's a small town with wonderfully helpful locals. When one saw Goeff trying to carry a largish heater back to the Nanook on his bike, he made Geoff stop and insisted that he would put it in his car and take it to the boat for him. Seeing Geoff peddling flat out to meet the guy at the boat brought a smile to our faces. I was blessed to have a young couple who pulled into the service station where I was filling diesel jerry cans, and insisted they go in the back of their ute and they would drive me to the boat. Sure saved a lot of grunting and groaning as we’d planned to portage them by dinghy. The sense of community here is something to be treasured. One thing that was a bit unusual was seeing cattle and horses freely roaming the streets. The piles of dung all around town suggesting they were the accepted way of keeping the grass down. You just have to dodge the fresh piles when walking or riding a bike.
We met a few exuberant characters who bridged the gap between our 'developing' grasp of Spanish and shopkeepers with interesting results. We currently have about a month's supply of cheese and apple empanadas. It was a close call but yes the cheese and apple are in separate empanadas. Delicious! It is also a great place to meet some of the professional skippers operating in Patagonian and Antarctic waters. The information they shared to help us was amazing and so helpful. This is a place I could come back to for a stay.
The Drake Passage and Cape horn has a formidable history amongst mariners. While we had what looked like a reasonable weather window forming, there was still nervous anticipation about entering these waters - knowing the weather can change in an instant. With Nanook provisioned and prepared for the Antarctic voyage, we threw lines and crawled out of the Beagle Channel.
The following day marked a massive moment for the crew and I as we rounded Cape Horn. We celebrated as we always do aboard Nanook... with Whiskey! The weather came in fast as South America slipped over the horizon. We were now in the mighty Drake Passage!
As I write this, we are now 80% of the distance from Puerto Williams to our Deception Island destination on the Antarctic Peninsula. This is a huge step in the expedition as we are again in one of the remotest areas of our spectacular world. Keeping a watch for icebergs and eye on the seawater temperature (currently 0.2oC) to manage our freshwater tanks and pipes freezing are now constant tasks. I'm in two minds about seeing icebergs. On one hand I can't wait to see their spectacular size and shape. On the other hand, playing 'dodge the berg' with things the size of a car to a house could be a little tense. Tonight we will be reducing sail to slow our progress so we arrive at the ice in daylight and make life a bit safer.
Weather in the Drake Passage is very changeable, although we are enjoying what is considered a really good four days. Today we have had the remnants of a gale, a snow blizzard and beautiful sunshine. All at an air temp of around -2oC. Nothing like variety to keep things interesting.
Until next time…