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. 






Thursday, January 23, 2014

back in Chile

Imvubu arrived back in Puerto Williams, Chile this morning. More to
come soon. In the meantime, please call (see number in previous post).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

southward

Imvubu is departing Puerto Williams, Chile today, Sunday the 29th, with destination Deception Island (South Shetland Islands just north of the Antarctic Peninsula). Should take us about 4 days. Check the Imvubu blog for more details and updates.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Puerto Williams, Chile

New country, new phone:  +56 982074436.
Imvubu sailed the ca 25 miles from Ushuaia, Argentina to Puerto Williams, Chile Thursday the 26. On arriving we joined about twenty other yachts tied up to the Micalvi Yacht Club and rafted 3 or 4 deep. The Micalvi is an old ship that was purposefully grounded in a narrow inlet and now serves as the local yacht club (though all the boats but one are from elsewhere). Their claim to be the world's most southerly yacht club is probably not an exaggeration.  Formalities were completed at the port captain's office. Now we wait for a favorable weather window to cross The Drake Passage which will take us to The South Shetland Islands and The Antarctic Peninsula. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Call me

I have an Argentinian sim card. My number is +54 92901644187. Please call.


OK,  I think the link to the photo album has been fixed. Have a look: 

Click Here for some photos from Ushuaia and the passage from South Africa. 

Ushuaia


Commerson's Dolphins, right?

and False Killer Whales (?)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Cape Town, South Africa to Ushuaia, Argentina, with imvubu

Imvubu arrived Ushuaia, Argentina around 22:00 local time Sunday December 22 as the sunset lit up the snow clad mountains of Tierra Del Fuego and Isla Navarino.   It took us over a day to get here from the Strait Of Le Maire (between Tierra Del Fuego and Isla De Los Estados and where we first spotted land after a month at sea) as we had tidal streams and ocean currents against us for much of the way. As we approached The Straits, we saw the Dutch schooner OosterSchelde which was quite a sight in the grey afternoon. The next day we got a closer look and I took this photo:
Tall ship Oosterschelde near Straits Of Le Maire

 The Beagle Channel was very mellow as we motored in flat seas and light headwinds and enjoyed the scenery. 

Ushuaia is stunning. That is to say, the scenery surrounding the town is stunning. The town itself is not anything to write home about. Like Punta Arenas, Ushuaia features a garish casino on the waterfront as a contrast to the natural beauty all around. There is a small, friendly community of sailors down here. Most from elsewhere and many of them running charter businesses, taking customers to Antarctica and the area around the soutern tip of South America. All the sailboats here look like serious expedition boats, so Imvubu fits right in. 

Total distance sailed: just over 5000 nautical miles
Total time:   34 days and some hours (this was both Ralf's and my longest passage time and distance-wise)
We sailed ca 2/3 of the time and motored the rest (the majority in the first 10 day. 

A few days out of Cape Town we passed directly over the Vema Seamount which rises to just 11 meters(at the shallowest) below sea level from the surrounding ocean which is ca 5000 meters deep. It being dead calm, we decided to drop anchor, wait for daylight, and go for a swim if we could find somewhere sufficiently shallow. Unfortunately the shallowest we saw was ca 40 meters which is too deep to anchor properly with Imvubu’s 100 meters of chain, so onward we went.

Heading west northwest, we got as far north as 30°35' south on day 7 before leveling out and heading more or less due west for the next two weeks which saw us motoring quite a bit  as we skirted the top of the South Atlanitc High.  At 31° 11' S, 36° 8' W, ca 700 miles from the Brazilian cost, we turned left and followed a course parallel to the South American coast until we neared The Falkland Islands. 

We hit a couple of small low pressure systems which gave us near-gale and occasioinally gale force winds, but onboard Imvubu that barely causes a ripple in one's martini. That was while we were still in the latitude of the 30s.  Surprisingly the Roaring Forties did not roar at all, and we did not encounter winds above 25 knots between latitude 40 and 50. In the 50s, the weather was more Souther Ocean-like, but not bad. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, we bypassed the Falklands and that might've been a good thing in the end. The Argentinians are still a bit sore about losing The Falklands War, and yachts have been fined for sailing directly to Argentina from The Falklands (which The Argentinians consider part of Argentina) without first getting a permit to go to The Falklands (which of course is English territory and populated by English people) from Argentinian authorities.

The whales that took such a liking to Imvubu were False Killer Whales, not Pilot Whales, I found by consulting a guide (a book, not a person nor a whale). At least that's what I think. See photo:
False Killer Whales (I think)

Around Dec 18 a pod of Commerson’s Dolphins played in Imvubu’s bow wave for a couple of hours. They are entertaining, sometimes getting airborne as well as swimming upside down and spiraling.  In The Straits Of Le Maire some Peale's Dolphins came to play for a few hours. 

Cooking:  To say we ate well is an understatement. Two main meals were had each day, and each person cooked both meals every other day. If there was a little friendly competition augmenting the cooking, Ralf won it hands down.

Sailing:  On one hand, being on Imvubu feels like being on a ship.  She displaces around 35 tons and is 57 feet long. I was surprised to find, though, that sailing and sail-handling was not that different from Twister. The sails are bigger, the sheets thicker, forces probably orders of magnitude greater, but still basically the same animal. 

Fishing: Ralf caught a large (over a meter long) Yellowfin Tuna near Vema Seamount . That one was let go as it was too large and we had no freezer space. Later, I landed two smaller Albacores which we honored by eating them.

Birds: lots of Albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, fulmars, and LBJs.