_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The last push to (almost) Ushuaia

sea lion

As promised, we saw much sea life as we traveled the south coast of Argentina. One of the larger specimens at Mar del Plata gets much respect from Peter as he shows his fangs.

Sea lion gets respect

As we sailed south, seals and dolphins kept us company

dolphins P. deseado

along with lots of seabirds.

storm birds

S Atlantic albatross

We enjoyed a beautiful day (despite motoring) as we passed a scenic lighthouse south of Puerto Deseado in light winds.

Isla Penguino

Isla Penguino light

As we continued on the days were marked by light winds and of course - a gale. All from the south. The birds loved the windy weather

Cape petrel

and the waves built up a bit.

storm birds and wave

Most of our challenges on this trip were focused around dishwashing. With no drain on the galley sink (due to the broken seacock) we were using the head sink for dishes. The fluorescent light in the head decided this was a good time for the ballast to die so we had no light. Then about a day after we left Puerto Deseado a fresh water connection came loose while motoring and we dumped our full water tanks – all 90 gallons – into the bilge. Of course, this happened in the middle of the night so our thinking wasn't very clear when we closed the valves to isolate the leak - wherever it was. We started the water maker and proceeded to make another 30 gallons of water and dump that in the bilge too! With daybreak, our mistake became obvious. Luckily we carry several large containers of water and were able to use our bottled water while we found and reconnected the loose fitting and made water – again.

We hauled up the storm jib for one overnight blow and then fired up the engine as the wind died and motored on. With all that motoring we needed to refuel from jerry jugs, so we took advantage of the calm.

Peter refuel . Peter refuel 2

As we progressed into higher latitudes the days got longer but the weather got colder. During the cold front and gale that passed the temperature outside dropped to 37°F making watches on deck painful with the wind chill. Those flying bird photos were taken with frozen fingers.

cold sailing

Just as we arrived at the notorious Estrecho de le Maire the barometer bottomed out and the light wind we had enjoyed built to a 20 knot headwind. We had heard about 30 foot standing waves that can occur in this area when wind opposes tide so we tried the recommended tactic entering the pass with wind and tide together, even though it was unfavorable. Unfortunately going against wind and tide we were unable to make progress. So we waited for the tide to change and then beat into the wind for hours to get to Bahia Buen Suceso. Not our normal style, and not elegant but the other option of waiting for fair wind at Isla de los Estados would have delayed us too long.

Estrecho de le Maire

We anchored in Bahia Buen Suceso and woke to snow on the deck and strong winds. The windlass refused to work because the lubricant that has worked so well in the tropics had thickened in the chill.

snow at anchor Bahia Buen Suceso

After a second night at anchor rolling in the now large SE swell watching the barometer rise we decided it was time to go. Our last weather information was four days old but we knew that as the forecast low went by the wind should come around from a more favorable direction. When the baro reached 1005 we hauled anchor and rounded Buen Suceso. This was another motorboat trip and as we crawled along at top RPM's, but only making 2 knots we were anxious about our fuel reserves and wishing we had brought even more fuel!

Cabo Buen Suceso

The barometer topped out and the wind began to ease as we entered the Beagle Channel. At midnight, with just 25 miles to go, we were both in the cockpit for watch change when the engine made a noise. Peter opened the hatch and black smoke billowed out. We immediately killed the engine and began inspecting for fire. The prospect of abandoning a boat on fire in these icy waters had two very motivated people working quickly to find the source. We were relieved to find that the boat and engine were not on fire. Further examination revealed that we had blown a hole in our exhaust mixing elbow and were shooting raw exhaust fumes into the cabin. Not pleasant, but a relief to find that the boat was uncompromised. The current in this area has an onshore set and we were just a half mile from shore and kelp. We rolled out the jib, hoisted the main and started to sail against the wind and current toward our destination.

Twelve hours and 27 tacks later we arrived at Puerto Harberton. This was one of very few possible anchorages after Buen Suceso and the first port with road access where we could get a ride to town to get a new part made and pick up Lisa when she arrived. We made our arrival deadline (sort of) with just two days to spare and were relieved to know we'd be able to make our appointment at the airport.

at anchor P Harberton



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