Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bridget joins Twister to sail Lofoten

July 1 Bodø, Norway (67.3° N, 14.4° E)

It is fantastic to be back on Twister! 
Lars and I arrive to Twister after a land-based Swedish adventure of a fabulous wedding celebration, dancing until dawn, blacksmithing bottle openers and a visit with cruising buddies, Mark and Maria and 6-month old beautiful Molly.

It’s been nearly 2 years since I sailed with Twister and Lars across the North Sea to Norway.  I was tempted back on board by the allure of Arctic sailing and surfing. Who can say no to such an invitation especially with the potential of puffin and whale sightings?  The plan is to sail north from Bodø to Lofoten, a chain of islands, about 50 miles from the mainland and see how many islands we can hop and waves we can surf.  Before we can set sail we need to get food, water, and propane for cooking and heat. Twister is docked in Skivika just north of Bodø and is surrounded by a set of traditional little red quaint fishing sea cabins called rorbuer. We hike to town via a footpath through the woods hoping to spot a moose or two. No luck with moose, but there are plenty of flowers.  Sweden and Norway have been very impressive with a beautiful show of wildflowers covering the landscape.  After the shopping we return to Twister for pasta dinner and wine and settle back into a familiar routine of sharing Twister’s space.
Lars has done some remodelling since 2013. He has removed some of the cupboards and counters to create an extra sitting space and basket storage.  The bathroom home improvements include a new top-of-the-line head, and the open bathroom threshold that had lost its door in South Africa now has a curtain to introduce a bit of bathroom privacy to the Twister experience. Oh, the simple joys.    

July 2 Bodø to Hjelløya

I awake to Lars making coffee! Twister is one of the finest places on the planet for coffee and it is always poured from a stovetop espresso maker and it’s delicious every time. After coffee, omelettes are served with fresh dill and arugula tossed with fried garlic, mushrooms, and green onions.  There are a few projects to be done and water tanks to fill before we toss the dock lines at 14:00 local (12:00 UTC). Just outside the harbour we cut the engine and sail north with the brilliant red and blue spinnaker leading the way. It’s a bit chilly and wet, but Lars has dressed us head to feet in bright orange foul weather gear, so it’s pleasant to be in the cockpit as we head further and further north into the Arctic via Vestfjoden (the west fjord) with snow-capped mountains emerging from the sea on either side of us. The winds are south/southeast around 10 knots and there’s only a light swell because Lofoten makes the Vestfjorden a protected waterway. I have the tiller quite a bit as Lars works with the sails, snacks, and refreshments.  The winds lighten and it is decided that a short sail will be enough for the day and an anchorage is chosen near Kjærringøy, about 15 nautical miles (nm) from our starting point. We sail in among the islands with a handful of puffins and find a mooring in 20m of water.  The inlet is surrounded by green and tree covered hills and the shallows have kelp covered rocks.  We spot a sea eagle.  Then, after 6 hours of sailing we settle in with a cup of tea and light the heater resulting in a very cosy cabin.  Lars turned the heater corner of the cabin into something like a dry rack with my shoes on a hanger along with pants and foul weather gear. We take advantage of the endless days with a midnight peak out of the companionway to admire what we can of the midnight sun and spot a few cows roaming through the forest. The midnight sun inspires the creation of the Midnight Sun cocktail and a sort of Twister version of the mai tai with orange juice, Maria’s homemade strawberry jam and rum!

July 3 Hjelløya to Lille Molla

anchored S side of Lille Molla
We leave the mooring at 10am and although it is grey the visibility had improved much and we can see snow covered mountains on much of the horizon. As we cruise out of the inlet we meet two sea eagles flying and a pair of small harbour porpoises splashing (in Norwegian “nise”).  Then, conditions worsen with a reduction in visibility and an increase in rain with light and variable winds. We run with the spinnaker for a few hours and then the main and jib whisker poll combo and sometimes with the engine through a world of grey. We spot a dozen puffins, a few guillemots, a northern fulmar, gannet, and some cormorants.  After egg sandwiches much of the afternoon is spent playing and eventually winning a game Lars created called remove the massive knot from the fishing line. The winds never improved, but the weather did overall as we find a gorgeous anchorage with a sheer 600m rock face on one side, a sandy beach a bit further along, and a pastoral farm across the bay.

July 4 Lille Molla to Trollfjorden

We sail off the anchor as a sea eagle soars overhead with Lars at the tiller and me on the anchor chain. The breeze was light to non-existent and after an hour or so of measuring progress in tenths of knots - and sometimes even sailing/floating backwards - we use motor assist to get us moving forward until the breeze stiffens and we sail along at 4-5 knots with puffins providing the puffs that fill our sail. At least that’s what we assume the puffins are doing every time they dive as Twister approaches.  It is rare to get within 10m of a puffin before they dive deep and swim away. It was a gorgeous day with spectacular views as we sailed up a slowly narrowing fjord. Our destination was north, which was the source of the wind, so much tacking had to be done and much of the day was spent heeled over at 20-30 degrees, which has a fun adventurous feel. 12 nm will be covered today as a motorboat flies, but as the Twister dances on the wind and water it was more like 20 nm.  As we’re sailing up the fjord we spot a magnificent waterfall and Lars says that’s our turn at the entrance of Trollfjorden.  Trollfjorden is lush green with numerous waterfalls dropping down sheer mountain faces into crystal clear water with the occasional jelly floating past of pink or iridescent color. If one looks up it is clear that the source of the waterfalls are the splendid snow capped mountains far above. The mountains are nearly vertical as they enter the water making it is possible to get within 20 feet (6 m) or less from the base before tacking as we move up the fjord.  We tie up to a pontoon behind a 40 ft sailboat and it’s dinnertime with boiled potatoes, sour cream, salad, and pickled herring.  We decide to hike up the valley looking for a clear shot of the midnight sun. We depart around 10pm with no shortage of daylight.  As we wander up the valley I learn that my sneakers are very good sponges seeping up water from the moss and mud puddles as the valley floor is rather marshy.  Eventually we start to climb up and the river we had been hiking along becomes more waterfall like and the lush green disappears as snow begins to cover the landscape.  We stop to toss a few snowballs in the nearly midnight sunlight. We arrive at a little mountain lake complete with rustic cabin and sauna. Then, after a walkabout we head back down. Down is lots of fun as we can slide through the snow and at one particularly striking outlook we stop and create a tiny snowman.
We spot a few piles of what we assume to be Troll poop, because it isn’t quite right for moose poop with its long curved pellet shape. As we return to Twister after midnight, 4 Norwegian sailors invite us to join them for a glass of wine, which led to many hours of enjoyable conversation with the joke being we’ll go to bed when the sun sets. We learn about cod fishing, the Codstock music festival, and life in Lofoten.  We share in the traditional snack of dry cod (tørrfisk), which first needs to be pounded with a rock to make it possible to pull it into bite-size pieces. We didn’t quite make it till sunset though we stayed up until 5am heading to bed after first breakfast of mimosas and guitar.

July 5 Trollfjorden to Laukvik on Austvågøy.  (the “øy” at the end means island)

dinner for 2 days
Wow. It’s an amazing blue sky day. After a rise and shine cockpit coffee breakfast is fried egg quesadillas with lefse (potato tortillas).  We sail off the dock and back past the waterfalls and beauty. It takes lots of tacks and once I cut it pretty close getting to a depth of only 2.8 meters and Twister needs 1.5. yikes. Eventually, out we sail of Trollfjorden into Raftsundet and into a picture perfect day warm enough for bare feet and t-shirts.  Raftsundet is known for strong tidal currents and a few hours into it we have a peculiar experience of the tidal currents merging and creating eddies and standing waves, which pull Twister in and we ride through the crazy currents at times being pushed 6 knots completely sideways, but luckily in the right direction. It was a bizarre experience as we rotate side to side about 270 degrees. And eventually we just sail out of it and continue on around the island of Austvågøy to the northern coast of Lofoten. We depart protected waters around 8pm with plenty of sunshine and puffins. The bare feet had long ago returned to wool socks and boots while many layers now cover our t-shirts including thick fleeces and sweaters piled under our warm red winter jackets.  The light is spectacular and Lars wants to get a photo of a picturesque fishing boat not far off course, so we head that way dropping a fishing line of our own off Twister as we approach and within a few minutes we pull in a 2 foot (60cm) fish and Lars identifies it as a pollock (or saithe:  Pollachius virens).  As the fish is cleaned potatoes start boiling in seawater and once the potatoes finish and are removed from the pot the fish steaks are dropped in to steep for a few minutes in the hot water and then delicious dinner is served complete with Norwegian sour cream, which Lars claims to be the best sour cream on the planet and he may be right.  We sail on into the night, which is, of course, still day and arrive in Laukvik’s little fishing harbour just after 2am.  It is extremely calm and the early morning daylight is gentle creating gorgeous reflections in the water of the mountains, moon, and cod drying racks.  The racks are wooden, upside down “V” shaped structures about10m tall and are the location where the magic happens that turns cod into tørrfisk (stockfish). We tie up and celebrate the day’s sail and the continual daylight with a delightful ankerdram (anchor cocktail) of blueberry juice and vodka, because hvorfor ikke (why not) end a day that way.
cod-drying racks, Laukvik

July 6  A day in Grunnførfjord on Austvågøy.

Lars’ friend and cruising buddy, Kari, grew up in Grunnførfjord only about 15 minutes from Twister’s harbour and therefore we decide to visit Tora (Kari’s Mom) and Arne.  Arne picks us up and gives us a splendid tour of the area as he seems to know much and is passionate about the history of the region.  We arrive at their lovely farm and home late morning and Tora and Arne open their home to us with amazing generosity. We begin the day of adventure and fantastic company with coffee and story-telling on their beautiful veranda. Tora is an incredible woman with inspiring strength and sense of adventure. We talk for a few hours and then after helping to feed a sheep and a few lambs we all head into the beautiful forest where we gather kindling, birch bark, and axe a few logs to start a fire. Coffee and juniper are boiled for sipping and sausages are cooked on sticks above the open fire.
  We sit in the grass with orchids blooming by our sides and attempt to absorb the marvelousness of the day.  After a few sausages, some tørrfisk (dried cod), and delightful hours we head a bit further into the forest and spot sheep hiding among the trees with bells around their necks giving us a clue to their location. We stop by their beehives and head back to the house where conversation continues for hours.  Arne shows us his old traditional Norwegian square sail rigged boat (nordlandsbåt) from the 1930s-ish. As we leave the house we are given a jar of their honey! It’s such a magical day with extraordinary people.
We are back on Twister around 9pm to cook up the rest of the pollock. Then walk over to the beach to toss the Frisbee from midnight to 1 under the midnight sun!  There is a stiff breeze from the north and after a few ridiculous fetches of the Frisbee taken by the wind we learn to work with the conditions and have a good game of catch. 

July 7 Laukvik to Borgvær

Laukvik is a quaint little village of perhaps a few hundred people complete with a pub, market, a local fishcake fast food option, and an active fishing harbour with half the horizon dominated by snow capped mountains and to the north is the sea that is providing a steady breeze. We depart at 13:20 and head southwest with plenty of wind from the north/northeast and quite a bit of chop on a 3 ft swell. It’s a bumpy, but enjoyable ride with plenty of weather helm keeping us on the tiller. We cruise about 20 nm in quick time and come to a little crowded fishing harbour, Eggum, that didn’t inspire us to stay, so we sailed back towards the sea until we found a little protected anchorage with a sandy bottom behind the islands of Borgvær with a lovely set of abandoned farm buildings to admire. We anchor around 7pm. We noticed the engine/prop making a funny noise as we motored in, so Lars decides to brave the Arctic waters to check and cleans the prop covered in barnacles with a butter knife.  He’s significantly chilled when he returns to the cockpit after 10 minutes and warms up with warm water from the tea kettle to dump down his wetsuit.  After dinner Lars whips up, literally because of the fresh whipping cream, a delicious dessert of pudding, caramel, and whipped cream.

July 8 Borgvær to Stein on Flakstadøy (68.2 °N)

The day begins with cockpit coffee and biscottis followed by eggs, cheese, and fresh tomato on lefse and then I haul up the anchor.  We sail out past the abandoned old farmstead and head southwest.  As we sail along I spot a black fin, alert Lars and a few moments later a pair of orcas grace our presence! Incredible. Beautiful. So exciting. We watch them for a few minutes and now with bigger smiles than average we sail on towards Unstad ,one of Norway’s most well known surf breaks.  We sail up and notice a surfer existing the water via binoculars and decide today is the day to catch some Arctic waves.  We drop anchor in 12m of water giving us about 0.35 nm to paddle to the break.  The boards are pulled out from the bag with a couple of big dings (1 inch X 3 inch) apparently they had a rough crossing from the Shetlands.  No worries cause Lars has duct tape. :-)  Once board repair is over we hop into our wetsuits, which are old California 4/3s, along with booties, hoods, and I have gloves. We heat up a kettle of water and pour warm water down our suits before we jump overboard and paddle into the break with sunshine on our backs.  As we paddle up 2 Norwegian surfers welcome us with a smile. The waves are 2-3+ feet and little mushy, but regardless of conditions it is simply amazing to be surfing in the Arctic.  After about an hour a few waves are caught and our core temperatures have dropped as far as seems safe, so we begin the long paddle back to Twister.  The guess is the water is about 45°F (8°C). Whatever the water temperature is we are definitely cold and as we approach we lose the ability to close our hands to make a proper swim paddle.  We manage to get ourselves into the cockpit and begin the warm-up process. We had left a thermos full of warm water and we begin by pouring that down our suits and on our hands and feet. My feet are so numb that there is no feeling at all.  We warm 3 more teakettles, light up the heater, and then finally begin to feel that we are actually warming up. We enjoy a cup of tea with local honey and a splash of single malt scotch.  Then, we raise the anchor and sail on to the nearby Steinfjord. It’s a pleasant, sunny, 2-hour sail.  We drop anchor and celebrate the awesome Arctic day of Orcas and surf with a fancy meal of canned haggis and potatoes!  And head to bed around 3am under a sunlit sky.

July 9 Stein to Sørvågen on Moskenesøy

Alarms are set for 9am, because we have to time the tidal flow through the narrow Nappstraumen passage between the islands of Flakstadøy and Vestvågøy.  We have coffee, haul up the anchor, and motor out from our peaceful and cosy anchorage.  As we motor out Lars notices some fish jumping and drops the line a few times and eventually I take over the line as we chase the jumping fish around and after 10 minutes one bites and we pull in an 18 inch (45cm) cod!
Now we had dinner planned, but first need to sail 35 nm. It is a good day to sail with a relatively steady breeze from the north and with the tidal push we hit 6.6 knots coming through the sound. We sail 10 hours and come into an adorable fishing harbour, Sørvågen on Moskenesøy.  We tie up like good tourists on the visitors dock just out front the local pub. We walk to the market for some dinner fixings and notice we have sea legs and rock a bit any time we try to stand still.  Lars creates a tasty cod dish with cream, leeks, and bacon all baked in the dutch oven.  After dinner we walkabout and up into some foothills for a late night Frisbee toss and in typical Norway fashion the scenery is stunning. 

July 10 A land day on Moskenesøy

Sørvågen, Moskenesøy
The day starts with cockpit coffees and Lars cooks up Norwegian pancakes to go with our mimosas.  The pancake fixings that ensured every bit was delicious included Norwegian sour cream, local honey from Tora and Arne, strawberry jam from Maria, blueberry preserves, nugatti (Norwegain nutella), and bananas.  We wander between the villages of Sørvågen, Moskenes, and Å which are just full of quaint and cozy in the traditional Norwegian fashion. We spot a seal from the road swimming in along the shore and find a charming little beach for Frisbee tossing.  Twister dinner is pickled herring, potatoes, sour cream, and salad. We enjoy a few rounds at the pub with visiting Latvians and head to bed at 3 after a late night snack of marzipan. The alarms are set for 4:30.  Lars brews coffee and pushes us off the dock as we motor 15 minutes to the neighboring harbour of Moskenes. We enjoy a final cockpit coffee and I hop the ferry back to Bodø and eventually good old Washington D.C. while Lars and Twister sail on! 
Chart showing route through Lofoten, courtesy of Bridget

Bridget's pictures can be seen here.

LT's updated northern Norway album here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Northern Norway

glassy water, Ebbesvik, near Bergen
Twister departed Ebbesvik (on the island of (lille)-Sotra) Wednesday the 20th of May 2015. Lovely first day: sunny, nice breeze from NW, sailing close-hauled up (northward) the inside passage from Sotra to Fedje (Hjeltefjorden). As southerly winds were not forecast to arrive till next morning, spent the night tied to a wooden wharf on the quaint little island of Fedje. 

Thursday morning the southerly winds arrived, we motored out of the harbor, and after the ferry had sped past, the genoa was unfurled, we headed offshore, and we were on our way north. It was an uncomfortable passage at times and more than once I vowed to head back to the tradewinds ASAP. We piggy-backed on the bottom right quadrant of a low pressure system. Fortunately it was a weak one, but we did not escape without a little bit of a thrashing. As seems to be the case with any bumpy passage, it’s all a bit of a blur now, but it left me plenty of time to do not much but hang on and contemplate life, the universe, and everything. While it was uncomfortable (and there is an aspect to cruising of sometimes simply enduring the discomfort), I was never concerned and I continue to be impressed with how Twister handles rough weather. And hey, if it was just fun and pleasant all the time, it would get boring. 

Sunday may 24th, the winds eased and turned northeasterly. We had made it to nord-Norge (northernNorway). I set a course for the nearest anchorage I could find among the outer islands outside of Brønnøysund and the distinctive mountains on the island of Vega. I tied to a mooring next to a fishing boat in a snug little cove at Bremsteinen which is the name of a little group of islands exposed to the full fury of The Norwegian Sea and where one would think no one could live (but people did up until the 1950s). It continues to serve as a temporary harbor for fishing boats.

fishing boat in the evening light at Helløya
Monday arrived with light northeasterlies and Twister was able to do about 4 knots almost due north. We sailed outside the maze of skerries and rocks of the Helgeland coast and when the winds died in the evening, we headed back inside the labyrinth (which is how Captain Cook described sailing inside The Great Barrier Reef, but which could just as well be applied to this area) to anchor for the night. The winds had almost died, but there was still sufficient swell coming in from The Norwegian Sea to cause breaking waves on the rocky reefs scattered in every direction. Again I found myself next to a fishing boat as I anchored by the little island of Helløya. I continued day-sailing and night-anchoring and the next evening found Twister at Hjartøya with a great view of The Seven Sisters mountains on Alsten Island. It was bordering on the pathologically compulsive as I had to pick up the camera every few mintues to take another photo of the mountains as the changing light and clouds presented another stunning picture.

The Seven Sisters
Next stop, Træna, another small island community which sits on or just below the arctic circle (whose position is not fixed but currently is around 66° 34' N), followed Myken, an even smaller and even quainter island hamlet where I spent a couple of nights.
Myken
June 1, departed Myken and initially set a course for Bodø, but the wind forecast was less than reliable that day, and after a couple of wind and course changes, I headed to Støtt (another charming island group). Good day for wildlife - saw lots of Puffins and one whale (long, pointy dorsal fin could be consistent with Minke Whale). Next day, nice downwind passage to Bodø. 


More photos here

Friday, April 24, 2015

Shetland Islands

First things first:  Some photos from Shetland

     What I saw of The Shetland Islands seemed prosperous (many are employed in either petroleum/gas or fishing), very clean (not sure whether that is a cultural thing or the frequent gales blowing all the trash from the windswept islands), and a bit bleak (the landscape, that is.There are no trees, and the grass was rather straw-colored.). The locals I met were very friendly (drivers waving as they drive by) and generous. I had more than one drink bought for me, and if I already had a full beer, they were happy to buy me a whiskey to go with it. I was also given a delicious lobster by a friendly fisherman on Whalsay.
     I only visited three places (I confess it was a bit chilly on Twister and that that swayed my decision to head back to Bergen and the shore-power-powered fan heater rather than explore more of Shetland.): Lerwick on the island of Mainland, Symbister on Whalsay, and Out Skerries. Shetland was settled by Norwegians back in the day, so norse words abound in the names - Lerwick = Leirvik = clay bay or muddy bay, Whalsay = hvaløy = whale island, Skerries = skjær = reefs/rocks. The Out Skerries is a group of small islands with a population of 55 by one residents estimate. Unlike the other places, Out Skerries appeared to be in decline/decay. Fishing is the only industry, they are somewhat isolated, and the population is possibly below critical mass. A ferry which comes a few times a week but is often prevented from entering the somewhat treacherous harbor by the weather. Whalsay is home to many of the Shetlands big fishing trawlers. In Lerwick, I met perhaps as many people not from Shetland as locals. The oil terminal at Sullom Voe employs some, and the construction of a new gas terminal has brought a new batch of workers. Many of these are housed on a hideous zebra-colored barge from The Netherlands and a cruise ship.


      On the return passage, I was able to transit through both the UK and Norwegian sector of oil rigs
in daylight (On the passage to Lerwick, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the AIS alarm alerting me to a ship on a collision course with me. It was one of the rescue boats that hangs around the rigs, apparently trying to divert me from getting any closer to one of the UK rigs. A bit stressfull in rough weather and at night. Couldn't be bothered to talk to me on the VHF radio either, bastards). In fact, the whole homeward passage was pleasant with rather tradewind-like conditions (excepting the temperature). Took me a bit under two days. Twister held up well, and I quickly became reaccustomed to life at sea. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shetland Islands

     Twister did not set any records in the ca 200 mile passage to Shetland. She arrived Lerwick, Shetland Islands, (Scotland, United Kingdom) the evening of Thursday April 16 three and a half days out of Askøy (Bergen), Norway.
Bergen looking lovely after a fresh dusting of snow
     I won't deny being more than a little nervous on departure day: the forecast did not promise a fast and comfortable passage and it had been more than a year and a half since Twister had sailed the open ocean. As is often the case, the anticipation was worse than the reality, but it was not trade wind sailing (ie downwind). The lowest moment was the afternoon of the first day. As always, the inside passage of the Norwegian west coast provided comfortable sailing. Soon after passing Marstein light (which marks one of the main entrances to the fjord system around Bergen) and entering the open ocean the northerly breeze died, but there was plenty of confused seas left over from days of strong wind from various directions. Twister was pitching and rolling with great gusto and the sails were slatting maddeningly. It's a special kind of irony being tossed about due to lack of wind as one is dreading upcoming gales. The southerly breeze arrived around sundown and was soon blowing at gale force (just an estimate). Twister made fast work of the first 100 miles, but then, as forecast, the winds turned westerly. The next two days were spent beating into and tacking into the westerlies making slow progress in the desired direction (west).
Using the storm jib on the inner forestay made for much more comfortable sailing than using a small patch of the roller furler genoa. The winds eased the evening of day 3 (Wednesday) and by Thursday around noon, they had died, leaving Twister 30 miles from Lerwick and 20 miles to some nearer islands (Out Skerries) but which I suspected did not have pub, the population being around 10. Grudgingly I started the engine and motored most of the remaining distance (some sailing with intermittent puffs of northerly breeze) to Lerwick. 
Land Ho - Isle Of Noss
Two Sailboats From Bergen - Twister and Statsraad Lemhkuhl
     As I pulled into the rather cozy (ie tight) small boat harbor, nature (which had been calling most inopportunely) became insistent and I managed to maneuver Twister back into the larger main harbor before I had to run below and leave her to her own devices for a minute or two. The joys of singlehanded sailing ;)    Fortunately we did not run into anyone or anything and in short time we found a nice floating pontoon to tie up to and soon your humble blogger was belly up to the bar at a nearby pub enjoying a proper pint and later a deep-fried haggis. 
     Friday morning I was surprised to see Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a 3-masted brig from Bergen, dock nearby. She apparently took two days from Bergen. 
     I arrived The Shetland Islands just in time to enjoy some (I suspect) unseasonably nice weather for the next  couple of days (see weather map below - The Shetland Islands are directly under the H in the high pressure system). 

Shetland High
Update Saturday 18 April: Departing Lerwick this afternoon. Heading to Whalsay (Whale Island), only 12 or so miles to the north. Then a visit to The Valhalla Brewery on the island of Unst (father north) might be in order. If I feel intrepid after that, the journey will continue counterclockwise around Shetland. If not, then I may take advantage of the moderate westerlies forecast for the later part of next week and head back to Bergen. In any case, I may not have internet access for a few days or more, possibly not before returning to Norway. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Of sailing And Salmon

These days Twister and I live on the island of Askøy, near Bergen. Weekdays are spent sorting, butchering, autopsying salmon, as well as other activities related to production of fertilized salmon roe (which in turn becomes salmon for people to eat). Much of evenings and weekends goes to preparing Twister for new adventures. Around April, we plan to head north along the Norwegian coast, hopefully catching some fish and some waves along the way. 

As I work to make Twister ready for the ocean again, I would like to give a shoutout to the two previous owners of Twister, Scott (2nd owner) and Vlad (1st owner) who put together a boat that crossed the world’s big oceans (well not The Southern Ocean, nor the Arctic Ocean....yet) without a hitch, minimal preparation required by owner #3.

Here's my new favorite poem:

The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Rosendal

In June Alison joined Twister and LT for an exploration of the Hardangerfjord. 
Hardangerfjorden near Jondal
 A pleasant, 10-hour motor-sail from Sotra island (which had been Twister’s home since arriving Norway August 2013) to Rosendal gave us a taste of the pleasant sailing in the protected waters of Norway (which incidentally is whence the name Norway comes—the way north, ie the protected inside passage which allows one to sail a lot of the coast with only a few exposures to the open ocean. Or that’s my understanding of the etymology anyway ). One day is sufficient to explore Rosendal and the journey continued further into The Hardangerfjord to Jondal. Folgefonna glacier is a 15-minute bus ride from Jondal. There one can ski, walk, and climb on the glacier.  11.5 hours was the return journey to Sotra. Winds were variable but the final several hours we flew along with a southerly fresh breeze. The gear cable parted on departure from Jondal, so Alison stepped in to serve as a human gear shift, taking commands from the cockpit, allowing us to enter the slip at Fjell Båtlag under motor.



Viking Ship
July 4, LT joined Captain Kari on the newly purchased and renamed Pyxie Nautica (Pyxie Nautica being the new name) in Homborsund near the southern tip of Norway. She is a 32 foot Wauquiez Centurion (designed by Holman & Pye who also designed Twister) that it turned out, sails like a dream. The plan was to take a couple of days to leisurely sail the 100-some nautical miles to Bygdøy in Oslo. Pyxie has an electric engine which I had been pretty excited to see in action. An ~800 amp-hour battery bank gives a reasonable motoring range of 4 to 20 hours or more (we never got close to finding out for ourselves) depending on the speed.  Having no pressing commitments and winds being variable and mostly light made for an 11-day sail to Oslo, with many stops along the way (not night sailing as lights were not yet hooked up) and with numerous mackerell caught and eaten. On the final day, there was wind and from the right direction, as we ran up the Oslo Fjord. We were pretty pleased with Pyxie running at 8 knots or so when a replica viking ship leaves us in the dust, zooming along at 10 to 12 knots. Later we see the same vessel at Bygdøy Folkemuseum.  
     Emboldened by our success, we reprovisioned and set sail for Sweden.  We explored the archipelago that surrounds Gothenburg (somewhat reminiscent of The Bay Of Islands in NZ) for a few days, had a lovely visit with Mark and Maria of MareLiberum (who were now firmly settled in a lovely house in the country), then explored the city of Gothenburg which is a most boat-welcoming city. We were allowed to tie up to the public docks at Eriksberg in the heart of the city, for several days for no charge.
Next stop - Hals (Denmark) at the eastern entrance to The Limfjord that cuts Jylland in two. No attractions of note, but a good place to reprovision. Onward through a maze of gargantuan wind generators to Øresund and Copenhagen. There a fellow patrolled every morning to ensure that all boats had paid the harbor dues. Strolled through Kristiania, went to Tivoli, walked about town. Head back north after a few days. Duck into Torekov (Sweden) to avoid the worst of a gale then continue next morning to Bygdøy without stopping. . 
The End.






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twister Refit

A wise man once said, "Perfect is the enemy of good." 

Blisters getting epoxy treatment
 The refit (that's boat-speak for renovation or refurbish(ment?)) is in full swing. I started with a week’s worth of sanding, and several blisters (aka osmotic blisters which result when the outer layer of the hull is not totally waterproof and acts like a semipermeable membrane…) were ground out then filled with epoxy.
  I had planned to redo the whole gelcoat, but several layers of old hard antifouling paint proved tougher than anticipated, so below the waterline only the blisters and some spots on the bottom of the keel (where the gel coat had been completely shaved off due to a few groundings over the last 35000 miles) got the epoxy treatment. Above the waterline, the worn, crazed, and chalky gelcoat was sanded then treated to two coats of epoxy barrier coat (epoxy diluted with solvent and with white pigment added) followed by two coats of white two-part polyurethane paint. 
Looking better
Below the waterline, the hull got one coat of red ablating (gradually wears off as you sail) antifouling paint (two coats near the waterline. The waterline was also moved up ca 5 cm as the old bootstripe was sometimes underwater when Twister was fully laden. 

New antifouling paint below waterline
Polyurethane paint above waterline
The rudder had a rather long crack along the wooden part that extends above the waterline to the tiller. I cut a v-shaped trough along the entire crack with an angle grinder and after letting it dry about a week laid up a couple of layers of fiber glass and epoxy resin. It looks pretty solid now. Below the waterline I discovered the rudder had about a liter of water inside it (not good), when I attempted to repair a blister. I drilled a big hole all the way through to drain it and let it dry out a bit (the inside is polyurethane foam like a surfboard). The next step is filling the hole with polyurethane foam and then closing the holes with fiberglass/epoxy. Then the rudder gets a couple of coats of epoxy barrier coat, followed by antifoul below the waterline and polyuerthane above the waterline just like the rest of the hull. 

 

I abandoned (postponed) the plan of replacing the through-hull fittings (where water comes in or out of the hull for engine cooling, toilet, sink, bilge pump, etc.), but my dream of replacing the cutless bearing was given new hope when I was able to get the prop shaft out of the hull (made easier by the fact that I had already removed the rudder). The old cutless bearing was quite worn and in an asymmetrical fashion, causing a lot of play in the prop shaft. 
Old cutless bearing
New cutless bearing
Some internet searching revealed that the usual method for removing the cutless bearing (which is more like a bushing – no moving parts. It consists of a bronze tube lined with a semi-flexible polymer with about ten channels running the length of the tube, allowing water to lubricate the prop shaft up to the stuffing box) is sawing it in half from the inside, collapsing the tube. In my case, the thing came loose after one side had been cut.

Fortunately the boatyard a 1-minute bike ride away had the right-sized cutless bearing in stock. While the prop shaft was out, I decided to replace heavy-duty hose that connects the stern tube to the stuffing box (aka stuffing gland. It is not a box or in any way rectangular) as well as doing some work on the stuffing box (the locking nut had been stuck for a long time, making adjustment of the stuffing box difficult. Due to access problems, I had thought this job impossible without removing the engine, but only minor contorting was necessary to remove the four hose clamps and pull the hose off the lip on the inside end of the stern tube (stern tube is just the hole in the hull that the cutless bearing sits in.


The stern tube has a lip on the inside end where a heavy-duty hose connects it to the stuffing box (which is the seal that keeps the water in the stern tube out of the boat, or at least mostly keeps it out).
Old stuffing


new hose and refurbished stuffing box
















New stuffing

























If anyone is still reading at this point...who wants to sail from Norway to California with me via The Beagle Channel or The Northwest Passage?
OK, more refit:   The six chain plates where the shrouds attach have been rebedded with butyl tape instead of polyurethane or polysulfide caulk. I have big hopes for this butyl tape stuff. All the other deck hardware (genoa car tracks, stanchions, windlass, handrails, etc) will also be rebedded using butyl tape. New wiring,  Bla bla bla...

Twister goes back in the water April 26. Hopefully the mast will be up soon thereafter. More photos from refit. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

News From Norway

A herd of 2000 wild reindeer have closed Riksvei 7, one of the main roads connecting Oslo and Bergen.

http://www.tu.no/vareveger/nyheter/2014/03/12/rv-7-hardangervidda-stengt-pa-grunn-av-reinsdyr

In Bergen, the oil platform supply vessels are hiding out from another storm in The North Sea: 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Photos

I'm in Punta Arenas.  Internet seems to have become faster in PA since last time I was here. I managed to upload photos from Antarctica and The Beagle Channel.



Here is a map showing the journey of SY Imvubu from Durban, South Africa to Puerto Williams, Antarctica, Puerto Williams, and The Beagle Channel:






Vis Journey of SY Imvbu to Antarctica i et større kart

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cruising The Beagle Channel with imvubu

Synopsis: 

If you like hiking in pristine nature without anyone else around, The Western Beagle Channel (and Southern Chile in general) is for you. With a boat, you can access a lifetime’s worth of hiking and mountain climbing.  Not only can you access remote areas, you can spend each night in the comfort of your own bed instead of setting up a leaky tent and eating a pot of miserable gruel.
Seno Garibaldi, Beagle Channel
The sailing conditions are easier than The Antarctic Peninsula—there are several good all-weather anchorages and ice is less of an issue, though some of the fjords do get clogged with bits continually falling off the glaciers and apparentlysome parts do freeze over in winter. Like in Antarctica, a good engine is nice to have, though here is generally plenty of wind to sail.  Going westward would typically mean a lot of tacking through narrow canals into the prevailing westerlies.
Wildlife is not as in-your-face as Antarctica. Some dolphins, whales, and seals but birds are most prominent (including The Magellenic Penguins). Also Guanacos (llamas), foxes, beavers (not native).
 Darwin passed this way almost 200 years ago aboard the ship The Beagle, after whom the channel is named. There are no natives left now, but many more boats than there were then. 
Seno Ventisquero

     Details:
     After a couple of days provisioning, refueling, and R&R’ing, Imvubu departed Puerto Williams around 0500 January 26 (just in time it turned out, as they closed the harbor an hour later due to strong winds). We motored westwards into 25 to 35 knots of wind (which was sufficient for a bumpy ride even in the protected waters of The Beagle Channel) past Ushuaia and The Argentinian border of Tierra Del Fuego. Even with Imvubu’s powerful engine, we were only doing 3-4 knots, sometimes less. By the afternoon we were approaching our destination and turned north into Bahia Yendegaia (one of the few fjords adjoining The Beagle Channel that don’t have a glacier extending all the way to the sea). We anchored in Caleta Ferrari in front of the remains of an estancia where now live Jose and Annemie. We don’t make it ashore till the next morning.

     Jan 27. They live what most westerners would call a Spartan existence. Jose has a fishing boat, they have some horses, and they kill the occasional wild cow. In addition, they take the occasional (well, probably more than occasional this time of year—there were two other sailboats and one fishing boat anchored when we arrived) passing sailor, horseback riding. Their communication with the outside world goes via VHF and HF radio.
     Ralf, Jenny, and I arrange to go for a ride in the afternoon. We are joined by three guys from Punta Arenas.  Two of them are on the fishing boat doing some scientific fishing of Centolla Crab (similar to Alaskan King Crab) and the other is here to catch some wild horses and bring them back to Punta Arenas. We ride northward to near Glacier Stoppani. On the way back, Ralf’s saddle comes loose and he takes a graceful tumble. Fortunately only his pride is hurt.
     In the evening, we are invited for asado (barbecue) and Centolla. We had so far been unable to buy or trade any Centolla from the fishermen we had met because it is not currently Centolla season. Because of the high fresh-water content of this bay, the Centolla that the survey guys have caught would not survive in their boats circulating tanks, so we are forced to eat the delicious creatures. Fun evening with Jose and Annemie, the fishermen, and French tourists/sailors. Turns out the fishing boat skipper and I have two mutual acquaintances in Punta Arenas.
  
          January 28. 04:00 Up anchor and continue west into the northwestern arm (Brazo Noroeste) of The Beagle Channel. We stop at what is said to be one of the best anchorages in the area at Caleta Olla, where we anchor with one line ashore. Two other sailboats are there but both move on in a couple of hours. Later, a French couple we met at Caleta Ferrari show up and we have a bbq on the beach.

     Wednesday January 29. Early AM. Up anchor. Continue west in Brazo Noroeste. Reach Seno Pia before noon. We follow the western arm of Seno Pia to the head where two glaciers flow into the sea. We have lunch there then head back to Brazo Noroeste and continue west to Seno Garibaldi where we anchor by Isla Pirincho with two stern lines ashore.
     Thursday we take it easy.

     Fri. 31st we Depart our anchorage and continue north to the head of Seno Garibaldi to have a look at Ventisquero (glacer) Garibaldi. Impressive. Lots of noise (not unlike thunder) as glacier bits drop into the sea.  Back out of the mouth of Seno Garibaldi and further west to Seno Ventisquero where we anchor in a lovely green nook with one line ashore.

     Sat Feb 1. Nice hike up the hill by our anchorage. Grand view of the glacier and Seno Ventisquero, but not The Pacific Ocean—gotta get higher for that. Constant sound of waterfalls, occasionally punctuated by the thunderous cracks of the glacier calving, sea lions barking, birds chirping.  Scenery very reminiscent of southwesternNorway.

     Sun Feb 2.  AM:  Up anchor. Motor to head of Seno Ventisquero and watch glacier shedding chunks and listen to the “thunder.”  Motor south and out of Seno Ventisquero. Check in with Alcamar Timbales (one of the many Chilean Navy radio posts—typically manned by one navy dude and his family on a one-year posting. The Chilean Navy keeps a close eye on the boats in the area. Yachts are supposed to check in with them via radio every day, but much of the time they are not in VHF range, so in practice that is not expected. There are about 20 approved anchorages (though the navy is known to turn a blind eye to the occasional yacht that strays, especially if an excuse about bad weather is made) between The Straits Of Magellan and Cape Horn and some of the canals and straits are totally out of bounds—in particular Canal Murray which would make the trip from Puerto Williams to Cape Horn shorter and more pleasant).
     Head through Canal Thomson, across Bahia Cook . Fortunately it’s a calm day in the Furious Fifties and a small groundswell is the only indication that we are exposed to the open Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Then into Brazo Sudoeste, the southwestern arm of The Beagle Channel.  A pod of Hourglass Dolphins ride our bowwave for a few minutes. At Punta Divide where the Beagle Channel splits, we turn north and return to Caleta Olla and drop anchor for the evening. I make burgers and flan for dinner.
   
     Mon Feb 3. Motor in almost dead calm back to Puerto Williams. The End.

PS. The previous two times at Micalvi YC in Puerto Williams I had noticed a boat with a norwegian flag that appears to have been sitting there awhile. Turns out it is Jarle Andhøy's Berserk  (the latest one of 4 or maybe more). This is the one he sailed from New Zealand to The Ross Sea to search for remains of the previous Berserk which sank there in 2011. I hear it's for sale, Kari. 







     

Friday, January 24, 2014

To Antarctica With Imvubu

To make a long story short:

The scenery is even more impressive (the adjective breathtaking is actually appropriate) than I remembered. Traveling on a (relatively) small boat allows up-close and personal encounters with icebergs and wildlife and you can go where you want to go (on a private yacht). I would highly recommend visiting Antarctica by yacht. Crossing The Drake Passage (renowned in sailing lore for strong winds and big waves) is not such a big deal when you have the luxury of waiting for a good weather window (a 35 ton steel boat doesn't hurt either), and the weather along the Antarctic Peninsula is actually quite calm much of the time (at least in summer, and in winter you couldn’t get here on a yacht on account of the ice). People talk about the challenging sailing conditions, and I guess they are but not much more so than some other places. I suppose the biggest challenges are the dearth (love that word, it comes from dear) of good all-weather anchorages, the ice, and that some of the areas are not well charted/surveyed.


Penola Strait

There are no trees in Antarctica and almost no plants (on land)--just a few patches of moss and the odd clump of grass where there is exposed rock. 99% (just a number I made up but probably not far from the actual number) of the land is covered by ice. There is lots of wildlife and it is "in your face" as one charter yacht skipper put it--that is to say it is near and abundant (in the summer) and most of the wildlife is still relatively unafraid of humans. Penguins (the 3 one typically sees are Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adelie) are what one sees most of, followed by seals (Crabeater, Wedell, Leopard, and Elephant), and finally whales (mostly Humpbacks). There are also some flying birds--shags, sheathbills, and even gulls. 

     The Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands is not exactly an unexplored wilderness anymore. There are numerous bases (some more scientific than others, but all of them serve the function of staking various nations’ territorial claims in Antarctica), and in the summer around 37000 tourists come--most by cruise ship, but some on the 12 or so charter yachts that operate out of Ushuaia, Argentina; Puerto Williams, Chile; and The Falkland Islands. The visitors’ center at Port Lockroy had 18 000 visitors last year. The cruise ships (and charter yachts) tend to go to the same places but the ships make an effort to avoid being in the same place at the same time. We encountered (or heard on the radio or saw on the AIS) 20 cruise ships, 12 charter yachts, 2 fishing vessels, 2 research vessels, and 1 Chilean navy ship. 

To make a short story long: 

     Imvubu departed Puerto Williams 12:00 local time Sunday 29 December 2013. A fresh northeasterly breeze pushed us through the eastern end of The Beagle Channel, Picton Pass, and finally Richmond Pass. A smooth ride so far, as little swell gets into these protected waters. Around 23:00 local time, in 40 knots of wind from the northeast, we passed 23 miles east of Cape Horn and into The Drake Passage. Fortunately there was not sufficient time and fetch for a big swell to build and conditions only became more pleasant the further south we got.
     By the next afternoon (Monday) we had a 12 knot breeze from the NNW and the sun was shining.  Tuesday the 31st brought more of the same and I took advantage of the pleasant conditions to practice celestial navigation.  Morning, noon, and afternoon sun sights gave me a fix 3.5 miles off from the GPS, which I was pleased with. A cruise ship on its way back to Ushuaia from Antarctica passed us in the afternoon (one of three we passed in The Drake Passage).  Ralf, Jenny, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve at 24:00 UTC with a shot of Aquavit. I went to bed soon thereafter, as I would be on watch in a few hours.
     At 12:00 local time Wednesday the 1st of January 2014, exactly three days out of Puerto Williams, we spotted land—Snow Island in The South Shetland Islands.  A few hours later we were approaching Neptune’s Bellows, the entrance to the Deception Island caldera, and spotted the first ice berg of the trip. By 19:00 we were anchored in Whaler’s Bay (site of the ruins from a Norwegian Whaling Factory and later a British Antarctic Survey base) inside the large crater of Deception Island. The cruise ship Polar Pioneer anchored nearby 30 minutes later, and the tourists were shuttled ashore to explore for a couple of hours before they upped anchor and moved on. We kept anchor watches that night as the bottom shelves steeply toward the shore in Whaler’s Bay. Thursday morning we went for our own little explore among the ruins. Motor yacht Hanse Explorer (well, ship is a more appropriate term since it is157 feet long) showed up and took their guests ashore to join us for a look around. They moved on after a few hours. Imvubu raised anchor after lunch and motored, past shuttered Spanish and Argentinian bases, to the NW side of the Deception Island lagoon where we found a much more secure anchorage in Telefon Bay, called Stancomb Cove. Penguins and Crabeater Seals inhabited the shore.  No anchor watch that night.
     Friday morning we upped anchor and departed Deception Island, followed by the Chilean naval vessel, Lautaro, which had spent the night anchored in Fulmarole Bay on the NE side of the caldera. Setting a course for the Antarctic Peninsula, we sailed due south across The Bransfield Strait in a westerly breeze, sunshine, whales, and ice bergs.  By the afternoon we were at the southern end of Trinity Island and decided to check out what we later discovered is called Mikkelsen Harbor. Threading our way through the ice bergs into a bay for which we had no chart was a little stressful but also fun. We anchored near an Argentinian hut/refugio erected in 1954 on a small rocky islet. A bag of mate (South American tea) and a few cans of food and a medical kit were inside. Aside from that, the hut was not in great shape. Hundreds of Gentoo Penguins inhabited the small rock the hut is on. They keep themselves occupied by sitting on their eggs and stealing pebbles from each other’s nests (the nests are made from small rocks). We can see across Orleans Strait to the mainland of The Antarctic Peninsula.
     Saturday the 4th, AM, finds us motoring south in The Gerlache Strait in light winds and overcast skies. Stunning, spectacular, etc. This landscape is something to see. Big, steep, snow/glacier-covered mountains—the mainland of The Antarctic Peninsula to port and numerous mountainous islands to starboard. In the middle is Imvubu, penguins, ice bergs, and more whales. Ice bergs are like snowflakes in that no two are alike--the possibilities of shapes and colors are endless.  20:00 local (Chile) time, tied up to the grounded wreck of a whaling vessel on the east side of Enterprise island, home to many Antarctic Terns.
     Around 04:30 early next morning we are rudely awoken by French charter yacht "Paradise" rafting up to us. We decide to move on before they can get too comfortable.  Our destination:  Paradise Harbor where 3 years ago I and the rest of the AMLR team enjoyed a few hours off from counting krill and played around in the ice bergs and snow. The scenic route through Wilhelmina Bay turns out to be well worth the extra couple of miles. Our second detour takes us through Errera Channel. Also amazing. Not surprisingly both are favored routes for the cruise ships and charter yachts.
     In the afternoon we reach the appropriately named Paradise Harbor and anchor next to the Chilean Videla base. Several Snowy Sheathbills (funny, curious, charming--at least so says I-- all white birds, roughly the shape and size of a pigeon) fly over and land on our dinghy which is hanging on the davits. No scientists there, only navy and air force personnel, but they are welcoming and give us a tour of their facilities which are surrounded by a few thousand Gentoo Penguins (including one albino) and their eggs.  Motor to south end of Paradise Harbor and check out anchorages by Argentinian Brown Base. A northerly breeze is sending all the ice to this end of the harbor, so we go back to anchorage in the lee of Videla Base.
     Monday the 6th:  Up anchor 6:00ish and take the long way back to Gerlache Strait via the north side of Lemaire Island. Then sail south along east coast of Wiencke Island, across Butler Passage into the spectacular Lemaire Channel (1000+ meter mountains on both sides and less than a mile wide. Also on the cruise ships itineraries if ice allows). Wind increases to 30 knots and we are going too fast through the bergy water. Drop sails and turn on engine for increased maneuverability. Concerned we might have to turn back due to ice, but we make it through and into Penola Strait. More of the same with incredible mountains and glaciers to east and south. See sailboat anchored on eastern shore. It’s charter yacht “Pelagic.”  We continue to Ukrainian base, Vernadsky, on Galindez Island, in the Argentine Islands group. Anchor in very cozy nook in Stella Creek (not a fresh-water creek, just a narrow channel between the islands). Not enough room to swing at anchor, so we run two shore lines from stern. Pelagic joins us 30 min later. They just drive into the thin sea ice and take one line ashore to hold them in place. Cool.
     The next day (Jan 7) we get a tour of the base along with Pelgaic crew and passengers (BBC folks making penguin doco) and later in the evening we’re invited to celebrate Christmas at the base. Turns out Jan 6-7 is the Orthodox Christmas. Fun evening with singing, eating, and drinking (the world-famous homemade Vernadsky vodka).
     Morning of Jan 8 we depart Vernadsky and head south into The Grandidier Channel but the ice soon becomes too much for us and we make a U-turn. Coming back north we see the British RV/IB The James Clark Ross. We call them on the radio and ask about the ice conditions further south (where they’ve been, resupplying The British Rothera Base). Since Imvubu’s satcom has stopped working, we also request the latest forecast. They not only print out forecasts and ice maps, but give us fresh bread, fruit, and milk. Continually mesmerized by the scenery. Vow to come back with own boat.

     We take French Pass westward toward open ocean as recommended by James Clark Ross crew. We see amazing bigass icebergs and patches of sea ice. Decide to call it a day and find a nice nook to anchor on the southside of Betbeder Islands (with one line ashore as the cove is too narrow to swing at anchor). I cook pinnekjøtt and turnips (traditional Norwegian Christmas food) which is well received by Ralf and Jenny.

     Jan 9: In our continuing quest to get further south we cross Southwind Pass and attempt the inside route (Grandidier Channel area) again but the ice is too much. We get to 65°34’ S before having to turn around.  Spend the night trying to get south on the outside but as we get further west, we are forced northwards by the ice. Abandon plans to reach Antarctic Circle. Come back into sheltered waters via French Pass and anchor at Vernadsky again (PM, Jan 10). There we find French charter yacht “Paradise” (same one that woke us at Enterprise Island) and we have another fun evening at the base with The Ukrainians and French tourists.

     11 Jan AM we head north through Penola Strait and Lemaire Channel. Just as amazing as when we came through here southbound. Again dodging bergs and growlers. Southbound Cruise Ship "Ocean Diamond" passes us and gives us a toot from their horn. From Lemaire Channel we head through Butler Passage to Neumayer Channel and drop the anchor at Port Lockroy where there was aBritish Antarctic Survey base which is now a visitors’ center and gift shop (yes, in Antarctica. In fact, every base we visited has a gift shop).  Port Lockroy is also on the itinerary of most of the cruise ships that go to Antarctica. We fail to get anchor to set 3 times. Try a different spot. Anchor sets but then drags in the middle of the night as wind picks up to 30-35 knots. Reset and drag twice then finally take a line to shore and hope the wind doesn't change direction too much. 
northbound in Penola Strait

     12 Jan. The inner bay and preferred anchorage which was full of ice when we arrived has been cleared by the northerly wind, so we move there—better holding, better shelter, and room to swing at anchor. 

     13 Jan. Hunkered down at Port Lockroy in northerly wind. 4 other yachts (all charter) also here. Quick trip ashore then back inside Imvubu.
     
     Jan 14 – winds have calmed down and we motor the 18 or so miles to the US (NSF) base Palmer Station and tie up as charter yacht Sarah W. Vorwerk leaves. Bow line to bolt in front of station and stern line to bolt on Bonapart Pt. We are invited ashore for tour and dinner. Get reacquainted with Dave and Carolyn who worked on the NSF (National Science Foundation) ship N.B. Palmer when I was aboard counting krill in August 2012. Ca 40 people work at the base: scientist and non-scientists, like carpenters, who keep the base functioning. I drop off a CV just in case.
     
     Jan 15. Blizzard at Palmer Station. Visibility less than 100 meters, so we will stay put. Even a dinghy trip to the nearby penguin and elephant seal colonies is out. Clears up in afternoon but dinghy motor is questionable so no shore trip.

    Jan 16 AM. Depart Palmer. Motor through Bismarck Strait. Sunny and calm. Good day for photos. Turn left and up Neumayer Channel, past Port Lockroy. Farther north in channel, pass southbound Brazilian yacht, “Franternidade.” Cross Gerlache and enter Paradise Harbor between Bryde and Lemaire Islands. Head for Brown Base. Much less ice now and the big grounded berg is gone. Anchor in secluded cove with spectacular scenery. Dinghy tour and later a short swim.
    
     Jan 17 Motor past Videla Base, through Errera Channel, across Gerlache and up Schollaert Channel. Lots of whales. Charter yachts, “Sarah W. Vorwerk” and “Golden Fleece” are going same way and everyone is enjoying the whale show. Anchor in Melchior Islands.
     
     Jan 18. Move around to other side of island into cozy channel between islands. Sarah is there and Golden Fleece show up later. Dinner on Sarah.
    
     Jan 19. Up anchor and head for Drake on Sarah’s heels. Soon pass her.  Easterly wind 30, gusting 35, then gradually eases.  Imvubu is in her element--trucking along. See 1/2 mile long ice berg--incentive to pay attention when on watch. 
     
     Jan 20. Light headwinds. Motor at 6-7 knots. 
     
     Jan 21. Motor then westerlies pick up. Sail w/ full main and genoa.

     Jan 22. Land ho! Cape Horn on the bow. We sail past the fabled cape and go up the east side of Horn Island and, conditions being quite calm, anchor in Caleta León on the E side of the island. As we dinghy ashore we are welcomed by the lighthouse keeper and his family (wife, 12-year old son, and poodle named Melchior). Guess what! Cape Horn has a gift shop. After a short visit, we up anchor as charter yachts "Pelagic Australis" and "Nekton" take their guests ashore. We motor through Paso Mardelsur between Herschel and Deceit Islands, across Nassau Bay and into The Beagle Channel via Goree and Picton Passes. 

     Jan 23.  Motor through the night. I'm on watch for most of The Beagle Channel. Feel serene and also excited at the prospect of landfall. Arrive Puerto Williams around 7:00 AM, just after Pelagic Australis. Raft up along YC Micalvi. Drink Beer and Pisco Sours.