Ithaka

Fri Mar 16 0:00 2018 NZDT
GPS: 47 31.301N 002 18.336W
Run: 0.5nm (0.9km)

Ithaka has returned to the water. Ana and I drove south leaving Aberdeenshire in the grip of a Siberian winter and found Ithaka in a balmy, Breton, 10 degrees. We were there to hand her over to her new owner.

We commissioned her, re-leading halyards, bending on sails, filling water tanks and installing batteries, while explaining her quirks and intricacies. The tractor reversed the trailer under her and, with a few deft hydraulic moves, she rose straight and level. At funerary pace, she moved down the tree lined lane towards the Villaine river, we two mourners following in time with her gentle descent, and behind, the broker and new owner with more eager anticipation. She settled gently to her marks in the river. I stepped aboard, made the usual checks of seacocks and prop shaft. The engine fired at the first turn of the key and she moved sternwards into the wintery green flow.

The following day the surveyor appeared and tested her functions. She flew down the river at full throttle – 8.5 knots, sails up and down, furled and unfurled. Instruments, water heater, cabin heater, windlass, heads, all were pronounced satisfactory.

On Monday we left her, alongside the La Roche Bernard quay. Outside, looking trim and purposeful, inside, strangely bare, no longer our cosy home. The last thing we took from her was the C.P. Cavafy poem, “Ithaka”, after which we had named her. I scanned the familiar words, now fully understood:


"Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.

Without her you would not have set out.

She hasn't anything else to give you.


And if you find her poor. Ithaka hasn't deceived you.

So wise you have become, of such experience,

that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean."


Sat Jun 17 8:15 2017 NZST
GPS: 47 31.602n 002 18.835w
Run: 0.6nm (1.1km)

On the hard,Comptoir Nautique, Marzan.

Another misty morning on the river, the high pressure remaining over Brittany. We motored across the river to a little pontoon adjacent to a little slipway, and waited. Shortly after 10am a tractor came down the single track lane towing an interesting looking railer. For me what was most interesting was the 15Te painted on the main frame, some 4 Te to spare even with our full fuel tanks. We met Alexis and Alexander, an enthusiastic pair who answered Ana's concerns about lifting points with sparkles in their eyes and gallic shrugs. The tractor followed the trailer into the water. When the water was well above it's axles Ithaka was gently pulled into place and within a few seconds was a foot above the water line. A few tweaks of hydraulics and she was on her way up the tree lined hill, the oak leaves gently caressing her shrouds, and bird song all around. We walked behind, hand in hand, trying to work out if this was a suitable passage for our boat and home. 10 minutes later she was receiving her obligatory fresh water bath, HP water, but not for long as she had very little growth, the expensive antifouling apparently having done it's job. Then into her resting space and chocked and supported. We spent the rest of the day washing salt out of everything, putting the 100 metres of chain onto a pallet below the boat, scraping the barnacles which had made their homes in the rudder, and working through the now familiar winter lay-up list. Except it was 30 degrees - not very wintery.

So no more moving from now on. We'll update YIT occasionally to keep in touch. I can't quite bring myself to cut off communication although Ithaka is definitely no longer a Yacht In Transit.


Fri Jun 16 8:21 2017 NZST
GPS: 47 31.164n 002 18.444w
Run: 3.9nm (7.1km)

Moored up on the ponton des visiteurs, La Roche Bernard.

Woke to mist drifting over the Villaine, and the sun, hazy, rising above the summer green wooded hills. The blackbirds singing their good mornings, ou peutetre ici, bonjours.

It is only 6.30 but the cruisers are up and about and diesels are beginning to shatter the peace. We add our decibels and move up to the lock gates just as the red light turns green. It is all very efficient. We chat to the British boat owner next door who is returning to his "home marina" where his boat has lived for the past decade, he, having given up the Solent in despair of the overcrowding, and made the move to France along with many others.

We pick up fuel (some 250 litres), then cruise up the river past green fields, cows grazing in the warming sun, fishermen huddled on the banks. Soon we turn a bend and here is La Roche Bernard, the end of our journey. We tie up on the visitors pontoon and stroll through the narrow street to the Capitainerie. I see several boats that "might be just right for us" but they do not seem to fire any enthusiasm in my companion. Once signed in and paid, we return to Ithaka, clutching wifi and wc codes. Then it's back to preparing the boat for its photo session, tidying, pumping, sweeping, polishing. Jerome appears at 5pm and Ithaka is photographed and videoed, ready for the exposure of her soul and spirit on the world wide net.


Thu Jun 15 5:48 2017 NZST
GPS: 47 30.203n 002 23.197w
Run: 15.8nm (28.6km)

Moored up at the jetty below the Villaine Barrage at Arzul Up with the lark to catch the last of the flood up the Villaine arriving at 8 am just in time for the lock to open....but it didn't! They are short of water in Brittany and the Villaine is an important part of the supply so they are reducing the number of lock openings. We must wait until tomorrow.

It didn't really worry us as we just spent the day removing sails and cleaning the boat, the same as we would have done above the lock. The sky has been clear and blue all day with very little wind and temperatures in the high 20s.


Wed Jun 14 8:03 2017 NZST
GPS: 47 30.022n 002 43.454w
Run: 33.6nm (60.8km)

Anchored off Suscinio We have spent nearly two weeks languishing in Kernevel Marina just south of Lorient. Our check in to Europe and France was helped enormously by Nicolas (of SY Zingaro). Brittany is a wonderful place with warm summer sun, fresh air and a wonderfully energetic sailing population. It reminds us of Auckland. Everyone is on the water. Meanwhile, we have stayed off the water enjoying bike rides along the coast (bikes courtesy of the Marina at no cost) and into the local villages where we have bought fruit, wine, baguettes and croisants. We also visited the maritime museum which celebrates France's yachting prowess. Formidable! THe highlight of the fortnight was staying for 2 days with Nicolas and Benedicte in their lovely house in Clohars Carnoet, a little village 30 minutes drive west along the coast. They wined and dined us and showed us the beautiful architecture and quaint villages in the surrounding area before taking us to a dance where we tried hard with the traditional the Breton Dancing. Today we had planned to start our passage north to Cornwall where we had hoped to meet up with our family and friends and celebrate the completion of our 5 year adventure. Sadly, Ana's Dad had a bad fall last Sunday, and has broken a vertebra in his neck. He is 96 and the bone will not heal so he is likely to be in a collar for the rest of his life and will need 24 hour care. So yesterday the plans changed and Ana is now booked with Qantus for the 35 hour flight to Canberra next Tuesday. I considered sailing to Cornwall myself but Ana and I have come too far together and I know it would not be the same without her. So we are sailing to the Vilaine River and a small village called La Roche-Bernard. We will arrive there tomorrow and haul Ithaka onto the hard. There I will "put her to bed" and leave her.......FOR SALE.


Thu Jun 1 7:33 2017 NZST
GPS: 47 43.214n 003 22.054w
Run: 48.4nm (87.6km)

Arrived in Kerneval Marina, Lorient Quiet night idling along under engine at 4 knots. Arrived off Isle de Groix at 0730 and anchored for an hour while we had a relaxed breakfast. Then a 6 mile motor up the channel to Kerneval Marina where we were met by our good friend Nicolas (SY Zingaro)who took our lines, shortly followed by Robert and Armelle (SY Acquadorria).

Then things happened quickly as the Breton hospitality kicked in. Doctor "Martin" arrived to take a look at me, we had a fine steak lunch, then into Lorient to immigration. Then me to have blood sampled, and Ana to do some shopping, meeting back at Ithaka late afternoon.

Now Ana is catching up on sleep, and I am catching up on e mails. We shall be here for at least a week, probably nearer two. We will update YIT occasionally and definitely when we move. Thank you for all your correspondence and messages of support. They have been the highlights of many an ocean day.


Wed May 31 8:21 2017 NZST
Speed:
3.5 knots
knts
GPS: 47 33.930n 004 22.910w
Run: 109.7nm (198.6km)
Avg: 4.5knts
24hr: 108.3nm
Weather: Wind WSW 8kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1016

On passage Cabo Verde to Lorient, France. Day 21.

A quiet 24 hours. No engine! Ithaka has been sailing herself towards Lorient averaging about 4 knots in the light but steady westerly wind. Meanwhile we have been cleaning the boat, and getting her ready for port. I disconnected the drogue which has been sitting in the cockpit since we left the Falklands, ready in case we needed to slow down in big following seas. Thankfully we didn't need it but it was always good to know it was there ready.

This evening, 40 miles from Lorient, we have set our ship's clock to Central European Summer Time, a shift forward of three hours, and the sun has just set at 10PM. We have seen the first gannets, always a sign that we are approaching land, and soon the lights on the rocky Brittany coast will start to illuminate the sky as there beams sweep across our track.

We will enter Lorient at High Water tomorrow, 10am, and our lives will change.


Tue May 30 8:03 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 47 18.240n 006 41.770w
Run: 134.1nm (242.7km)
Avg: 5.6knts
24hr: 135.5nm
Weather: Wind W 9kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1013

On passage Cabo Verde to Lorient France. Day 20.

The Bay of Biscay has a fearsome reputation but for us it is being kind, over kind. The wind is behind us but not enough of it. We could progress very slowly under sail but we have the bit between our teeth and want to get there so we are burning diesel instead. We have had dolphins with us a couple of times today, cavorting under the bow or jumping, rolling and tail smacking. Plenty of ships, all on a track between Ushant and Finisterre, so we have been crossing them.

135 miles to go.


Mon May 29 8:18 2017 NZST
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 46 56.234n 009 29.763w
Run: 119.9nm (217km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 119.9nm
Weather: Wind S 9kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 20%. Baro 1013

Cabo Verde towards France.

Good progress over night in murky rain and a cool wind, initially north and then slowly curling onto the layline for Lorient as the wind freed. We had the spinnaker up for a couple of hours this afternoon but the wind has become fickle and we are now motorsailing.

Had a visit from some like minded migrants yesterday. A swallow swooped over the cockpit, did a couple of turns of the boat and then flew into the saloon where he landed initially on the spice rack. After sitting there for a bit and sizing up the joint he flew forward into the forward cabin before returning to the spice rack. He stayed with us for about 4 hours in all sometimes outside under the spray hood and sometimes in the saloon. After an hour or so he was joined by another and they both sat under the sprayhood sometimes chatting but mostly just resting. Once I awoke from a nap on the saloon seat to find both of them perched on the opposite seat looking at me. What beautiful frail birds they are. Mainly black with a white chest, a reddy brown face and chin and a irridescent blue back. Presumably they are heading north like us. They seemed in good condition and after having a rest they left us and went on their way. Perhaps they will turn up in Scotlnd in a few days.


Sun May 28 8:18 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 45 50.200n 011 26.370w
Run: 141.7nm (256.5km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 140.2nm
Weather: Wind E 15kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud with drizzle. Baro 1017

On slow passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

Ana would disagree with this but I am not usually one to share my health issues with others. However, it has to be said that my guts have been giving problems over the last couple of weeks with quite a lot of, well yes, lets get to the point, farting.

Last night I was on watch at 0230 and decided enough was enough, and plucked the Ship Captain's Medical Guide from the shelf. Well of course, I had none of the symptoms described, so I moved on to other conditions. It provides detailed instruction on many , ranging from athlete's foot to childbirth, to what to do with a dead person. All very interesting. It may have been the heat (I was dressed in full waterproofs) or the gut problem, or the subject matter, perhaps a combination of all three but all of a sudden I became aint and the next thing I knew I was climbing up from the floor. Hmmm. Thought I'd better tell the medic.

Ana, the medic became very attentive, and having checked me over, sent me off to bed, with dire warnings if I were to get up and do anything - apparently complete rest is necessary.

This morning she appeared, without her uniform unfortunately, but with her stethoscope and her aneroid sphygmomanometer (AS), looking very business like. She needed to measure my blood pressure.

Two hours later, we had to accept that we had failed. Of course we read the instructions. "First find a pulse in the elbow of the arm you do not use much". We could feel a pulse just above my right elbow. "Listen to the pulse with the stethoscope". Ana is deaf. The boat is plunging through the waves with pulse-like swooshing noises. We finally identified it above the miriad of other sounds. Then "apply the band around the arm and fix with Velcro". That was an easy bit. "Pump up the AS until the pulse stops and then 30mb more". We pumped, the band constricting my arm, we continued pumping and my arm felt less and less as if it belonged to me. No movement on the dial. How much more pumping can an arm take? The medic noted that the pressure gauge had been in two pieces in its box. In fact she pulled it apart showing me how it had been in the packet! I noted the message in the case warning that once dismantled the gauge would require re-calibrating by a specialist! Hmmm. We looked at each other and just by our expressions, agreed that neither systolic nor diastolic blood pressures were more important than lunch.


Sat May 27 8:03 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 44 25.840n 013 33.250w
Run: 130.5nm (236.2km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 132.2nm
Weather: Wind 000 3kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1011*

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

Kept sailing towards Lorient, France, until 10am his morning. Since then we have had only 2-3 knots of wind so have been motoring in the same direction. We are in a "high" but definitely not on one! Not much wind for a day or so to come.

We keep ourselves busy doing boat jobs. Meals definitely become the highlight of the day.

Although there is no moon at present we find there is a lot of starlight. Also as we move North the nights are getting shorter so things are not too bad.

*The barometer suddenly dropped 6mb in one hour this afternoon which would indicate a hurricane! Not sure what caused this but I do not think it was a change in pressure.


Fri May 26 8:21 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 43 30.450n 015 50.630w
Run: 144.4nm (261.4km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 145.6nm
Weather: Wind 330 11kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 70% cloud. Baro 1013

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

We continued to keep ahead of the cold front until dawn this morning. Then it arrived with torrential rain and 25 knot winds which lasted 6 hours. However, once we had our act together and a reef in the main, it helped us on our way in grand style. Now the rain clouds have moved further east and some blue sky returned so maybe well get a good sunset. This was the first real downpour we have had since the tropics and it has washed all the Sahara dust out of the ropes and sails and diluted the salt in all the deck fittings.

We did catch the UK shipping forecast last night which followed "sailing by", a very British Institution. The forecast for Fitzroy bore no resemblance to what we experienced but I guess we were right on the edge of the area.


Thu May 25 8:33 2017 NZST
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 42 30.428n 018 21.090w
Run: 147.7nm (267.3km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 146.8nm
Weather: Wind 170 11kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1012

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

A slow day. The morning went well with the spinnaker flying but the wind went too far forward so down it came. Unfortunately we managed to break the wire bridle on the pole while lowering. Have rigged up a kevlar strop which should do the job. This afternoon we are finally being overtaken by the cold front which has been chasing us from the Azores and which is bringing a uniform grey to sea, sky and boat, matching the grey tinge on the GRIBs indicating rain.

The grey feeling has not been improved by the first BBC News we have had since last year, telling of the suicide terrorist attack in a Manchester arena killing 22, many of them children. What can you say or do? A sad day indeed.

On a brighter note, it is interesting how we note milestones as we cross this featureless ocean. Today we have entered the area covered by the UK Shipping Forecast. We will listen with interest tonight for Trafalgar and Fitzroy.


Wed May 24 8:24 2017 NZST
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 41 08.726n 020 33.777w
Run: 147.3nm (266.6km)
Avg: 6.3knts
24hr: 151.1nm
Weather: Wind 160 13kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1014

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

Perfect conditions for sailing all day - a steady breeze on the beam, and not a cloud in the sky. We can't remember when we last had such conditions! Meanwhile I've been editing our photos of the last 5 years, since Panama. What a job! It's wonderful to go through them. But it's particularly seeing photos of friends we've made along the way that makes me want to weep at the thought we may never see them again.

Finished Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, based on a Russian prison in 1949. I've begun this book several times in the past and stopped, but really appreciated it this time. I guess I have the time to give it the full attention it deserves. Following on with the Russian theme, now begun Van Der Post's Journey into Russia, based on Russia the 1960s. They are just two books picked up from a marina shelf somewhere.


Tue May 23 9:00 2017 NZST
Speed:
3.5 knots
knts
GPS: 39 42.545n 022 37.850w
Run: 126.8nm (229.5km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 123nm
Weather: Wind 180 8kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1013

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

We flew the spinnaker for most of the day, trying to make the best of the light winds, but have made slow progress. Ah well, shouldn't complain, not a cloud in the sky all day with a very pleasant temperature. Chilly at night, though.


Mon May 22 8:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 38 02.800n 023 37.680w
Run: 137.5nm (248.9km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 144.7nm
Weather: Wind WSW 5kts. 0.0m waves. Sky 30% cloud. Baro 1012

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

Good smooth progress overnight but frustrating today as the wind did not stay as long as expected, and even went forward of the beam when it saw I had the spinnaker ready to hoist. Oh well, that's sailing. Now motoring further north to find some more wind.

Boats usually have some water in their bilges. Ithaka has always been very good in this respect but recently we have regularly been seeing 3 or 4 litres a week but only while we are underway. I have been searching for the source and today found it. Very elusive. A pinhole leak in a fitting on the HP side of the watermaker. It is only apparent when the unit is pressurized and its route to the bilge not obvious. I will leave fixing it until we arrive just in case I make matters worse.


Sun May 21 9:27 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 36 33.430n 025 17.130w
Run: 135.4nm (245.1km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 132.6nm
Weather: Wind SW 9kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 30% cloud. Baro 1013

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

Fine sunny day. Motoring all morning but very light SW breeze arrived this afternoon and we are goosewinged and running before it . Azores island of Santa Maria is off our port bow, very tempting but we are going to pass it by.

We should have following winds for the next few days at least, for us a very unusual experience. We are not used to this gentle rolling downwind, with an almost effortless 5 knots.


Sat May 20 8:57 2017 NZST
Speed:
4.0 knots
knts
GPS: 35 00.580n 026 45.960w
Run: 127.6nm (231km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 127.6nm
Weather: Wind ESE 5kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 30% cloud. Baro 1018

On passage, Cabo Verde towards France.

The wind has freed a little and for a while we were close reaching. Then it died and we are motoring. However the sun is out and it's been warm. We have both been cleaning the cockpit. The big news today is that, despite the fact that our course will take us within 50 miles of the Azores, we have decided to continue on towards France. We had been thinking of taking a break for a few days but the weather over the next week is good for going to France so we will use it. You never know when the next good break will come. Luckily Ana has provisioned enough for 3 months and the water maker is working well so, provided we don't need too much diesel, we should be OK.


Fri May 19 8:57 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 33 23.080n 027 49.450w
Run: 139.4nm (252.3km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 141.2nm
Weather: Wind NE 15kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1019

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

Still sailing North and nothing much to report. Highlights of the day were 1 yacht which crossed ahead of us, Axia, a 121ft superyacht heading for Gibraltar, and 1 dolphin, an 8ft supermammal which played under the bow effortlessly and then left us in its wake!


Thu May 18 9:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 31 22.168n 027 42.505w
Run: 161.8nm (292.9km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 155.3nm
Weather: Wind NE 22kts. 2.0m waves. Sky 30% cloud. Baro 1020

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

The wind returned today, the small ridge we had been motoring in yesterday dissolving into the trade winds which then built up to 25 knots. 2 reefs and only half the yankee and much slamming into waves again. However it is not forecast to last for long and will moderate before morning and also swing east allowing us to bend around to the NNE we hope.

So a quiet day on Ithaka, Ana staring at the ceiling feeling slightly queezy, me in and out of the cockpit trying to get the boat to go to windward through usually, but sometimes over, the waves.

Bruce tells of a westerly wind not too far ahead blowing us the way we want to go. WE'll not think about this yet. It might be wishfull thinking.


Wed May 17 8:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 29 06.180n 027 01.910w
Run: 129.9nm (235.1km)
Avg: 5.6knts
24hr: 135.5nm
Weather: Wind NNE 8kts. smooth sea. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1016

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

We had the engine going all night motoring into a very light headwind but at least going in the right direction. However by this morning we needed a break from the noise and turned it off, returning the boat to peace and tranquility and a heading some 30 degrees to the west of our desired course. The cloud of the last few days has disappeared and we have had warm, but no longer tropical, sunshine all day.

A bird came to visit us, a tern gracefully swooping around the boat. It did a few circuits and headed off we know not where. We saw a couple of birds yesterday too but too far away to identify, so are feeling less alone in the ocean. A ship passed too, away on the horizon. It was heading for Valencia in Spain which make us feel that we are getting closer to Europe.

A quiet night expected tonight and then the trades building again for a few days but shifting more to the East which will allow us to curve up onto our course again.


Tue May 16 9:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 27 13.650n 026 54.210w
Run: 158.7nm (287.2km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 152.7nm
Weather: Wind NNE 6kts. smooth sea. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1015

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

The wind held until dawn this morning, then headed us and dropped to 6 knots. On came the engine and its been chugging away ever since. Hopefully it will continue tomorrow as the forecast is very light for another 24 hours.

Ana baking cake and bread, and I, trying to write of our experiences.

WOW! Green flash sunset. Only the 2nd time I have seen it and a first for Ana!


Mon May 15 8:18 2017 NZST
Speed:
3.5 knots
knts
GPS: 24 56.050n 027 02.430w
Run: 129.2nm (233.9km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 142.9nm
Weather: Wind NE 10kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1013

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

Wind continued well through the night but by this afternoon it was dying away. We had a couple of hours of engine and now it has come back very light but just sailable. We are using the windpilot but instead of the vane we are using a small autohelm tiller pilot. In these very light winds the vane does not respond and there is insufficient power to drive the hydrovane. The tiller pilot replaces the vane but still utilises the power derived from the boats passage through the water to steer the boat. That was just a little technical snippet for those interested in such things - not many I suspect! Bruce-the-weather tells us we are moving into a ridge which will cross us over the next 2 days so we can expect little wind and will probably be motoring.

Ana is very pleased that the boat is upright and stable, and she doesn't require three points of contact when moving about the boat and cooking.


Sun May 14 10:36 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 23 05.141n 027 20.862w
Run: 167nm (302.3km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 159.7nm
Weather: Wind NE 17kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1014

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

Another sunny, trade wind day. Fluffy white cumulus, sparkling sea, Ithaka dancing through the waves with the occasional thump and bang but nothing too bad. We spend our time catching up on sleep, reading, writing and talking.

We left the tropics today, finally saying goodbye to the sun which will reach our present latitude next month and then head south again. Tonight I looked ahead and found that we were pointing at the pole star, and last night the southern cross was only just above the horizon. There is little else to tell of our progress north. We are used to the ocean desert now - no birds, no whales, no dolphins, nothing living sighted since we left Cape Verde. The two flying fish were both dead in the scuppers!


Sat May 13 9:30 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 20 45.442n 026 39.007w
Run: 176.4nm (319.3km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 172.8nm
Weather: Wind NNE 17kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1011

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

We are settling into the ocean routine again. Watch follows watch. Day follows day. Our activities ordered by the sun and it's passage across our 6 mile circle of ocean. The wind has been steady. True trade winds blowing consistently between 15 and 18 knots and varying but a few degrees as the cumulus clouds pass over us. As ever we are rigged conservatively. It is hard for us to remove the first reef from the main and we vary the headsail area to keep the boat ploughing along, steadily, consistently, between 5 and 6 knots. Every afternoon an hour or so before sunset I take a trip around the deck. It is wet and I need lifeline and waterproofs but I like to take a good look at the rig before the sun goes down. Today I found a loose shackle, the pin half undone. It had been seized with a plastic tie-wrap which had broken. I replaced it with monel seizing wire.

Ana has started reading, a good sign that her early passage sea sickness is finished. She has started The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I finished it last week, some 700 pages describing 3 days in the life of a soviet "special" prison in 1949. This was a prison where well educated and skilled engineers and scientists were incarcerated for 10 or 20 years, while they worked on projects to aid Stalin's communist regime. Some became happy there, it became their life and they realised they were lucky not to be in a siberian labour camp. Happiness is very relative. But what a cruel machine communism was after the war. This was the reason Ana's father fled Slovenia to Australia in 1949, taking with him only a suitcase and a bride, to escape the bullets of President Tito and communist Yugoslavia. We are very lucky to have lived our lives and bring up our children in a stable war-free country.

Meanwhile Ithaka is taking us towards that country, imperceptibly we are crawling across the globe towards the UK.


Fri May 12 9:00 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 18 26.750n 025 30.140w
Run: 106.8nm (193.3km)
Avg: 4.5knts
24hr: 107.9nm
Weather: Wind NNE 17kts. 1.5m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1009

On passage, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

Light winds last night made for slow progress. We seemed to be glued to the island of Santo Antao. However, with a little help from the volvo we got clear and the wind started to increase. It has been pleasant sailing in a light breeze most of the day but now increasing to 20+ knots and the waves building too. It would appear that this will be the story for a few days so we need to get used to living on a slope with lots of banging and crashing.

We spent nearly a month in the Cape Verdes mainly in Praia and then Mindelo. The highlight was the few days in Santo Antao which we visited by ferry, there being very little shelter for a sailing boat anywhere around the coast. It is very mountainous reaching over 1500m in the centre. Because of this the island does have rain and there are rivers. We walked down one valley all the way from the mountains to the sea. Near the top we found two ladies inspecting their coffee "orchard". At this point there was no obvious water in the river. It just looked dry. However they said the water is flowing underground and the coffee bushes had obviously found it. Further down the river actually came to the surface - just a trickle but enough. The locals cultivate every possible space and there are terraces all the way up the valley. The small amount of water in the river is directed through these in channels and the ever present black alkythene piping, making the whole valley a beautiful fertile area where fruit and vegetables grow in profusion, and birds and animals thrive.

We also spent some time in a fishing village on the north tip of the island where the Atlantic surf crashes is continously. However, there is a short concrete breakwater, which, despite its poor condition, provides an area where the small rowing fishing boats can be landed and pulled up the beach. There are also a few bigger (about 20 ft) motorised fishing boats which are moored outside the surf zone. Not an anchorage I would choose. The whole beach area turns into a fishmarket when the fish is landed, the skippers standing beside the scales as the fish are weighed and bid for. The fish are then cleaned, sharp knives flashing in the bright sun. The offal and scraps go to the dogs who think it is Christmas. Ladies carry large bowls of fish away on their heads. Meanwhile boats are being repaired, with much talking and hammering.

In the evening we dined out. Fish, of course and Vinho Verde, locally made crisp "green" wine which we enjoyed.


Thu May 11 9:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 17 02.590n 024 49.190w
Run: 15.9nm (28.8km)
Weather: Wind NE 17kts. 1.5m waves. Sky 90% cloud. Baro 1007

On passage, Mindelo, Cabo Verde towards Europe.

We left Mindelo on Sao Vicente mid afternoon and are now hard on the wind and sailing to the North of the lovely island of Santo Antao. We know it is lovely because we went there (by ferry) and had 3 lovely days hiking, swimming and enjoying the lovely villages and people.

We meant to leave yesterday but our pre departure checks revealed a fault in our EPIRB (emergency device which gives our position if we are in trouble). We contacted McMurdo, the manufacturers in UK and were told the model of EPIRB had been subject to a recall since January 2016! Apparently they had sent a letter to our address in the UK but we have not received it. They were quite happy to replace the unit but, of course, there was not one in the Cape Verdes. So we bought a different make and model and they will repay us in due course.

So if anyone has a KANNAD SAFELINK EPIRB they should get in touch with the manufacturer urgently. We enquired about the problem. It is a material issue with the yellow plastic case which can become brittle. Sure enough, we peered inside through the clear plastic top and the plastic boss which retains the single screw holding the two sections together had sheared off and it was only the o-ring seal which was holding the unit together.

So now we are on our way again and looking forward (well not really) to our first night at sea. The weather has settled down to a steady 17 knots and the waves are also settling down to a steady rhythm as we move off the shelf and into deeper water.


Fri Apr 28 9:12 2017 NZST
GPS: 16 53.050n 024 59.590w
Run: 47nm (85.1km)

At anchor, Mindelo, Ilha de Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde.

Arrived here late afternoon after a pleasant sail, beating of course, from Ilha Sao Nicolau. This is the main harbour for the Cape Verdes and is large and full of marine activity. It is also full of rusting wrecks, some still floating but many lying on their sides in the shallow water.

Our service batteries have done stirling work since 2013 but are now coming to the end of their lives. Yesterday evening I noticed that the volts were very low, about 11.4v, and on investigation found one very hot battery, obviously with an internal short circuit in one cell. I took this battery out of the circuit and now we are managing with two instead of three. However they are all the same age so one or both of the others could go at any time. We will see what can be done about new batteries tomorrow but I am not hopeful that we can get the right ones here.

Otherwise all is well with boat and crew.


Thu Apr 27 7:15 2017 NZST
GPS: 16 34.259n 024 21.754w
Run: 109.5nm (198.2km)
Avg: 4.9knts
24hr: 117.1nm

At anchor, Porto de Tarrafal, Ilha de Sao Nicolau, Cabo Verde.

Arrived here first thing this morning after a good passage from Praia, the wind behaving itself and shifting more to the east to allow us to make it in one tack. We are anchored off the village, the boat rolling gently in the atlantic swell which makes a continuous roar as it lands on the beach a 100 metres away.

We went ashore and reported to the Marine Police and were charged a few hundred escudos for our visit. Then relaxed for a while in a little cafe overlooking the town centre watching the people coming and going. Back on the boat we attacked the little ecosystem that has set itself up on the hull. Most of it comes off with a wipe from a scourer but the goose barnacles are a little stronger. The water is surprisingly cool considering we are only 16 degrees north, and we are dressed in full wetsuits for this battle. We may have to have a second go tomorrow. Ana is still doing battle but I have retired with cold and cramp, to the warmth of the setting sun.


Wed Apr 26 8:48 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 15 40.700n 023 00.00w
Run: 62.8nm (113.7km)
Weather: Wind NNE 12kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1005

On passage, Porto Praia, Ilha de Santiago, towards Midelo, Ilha de Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde.

We left Port Praia this morning at 0700. There was little wind up the west coast of Ilha de Santiago so we motored or motor sailed until we arrived at the northern point. The island is mountainous, very rugged and very dry. The only signs of vegetation were close to the coast where, not surprisingly, there were little villages. We had decided not to stop at these as we are keen to make the northing to the northern islands and we have a couple of days of lighter winds to do this, before the trades get up to their normal strength again.

As we left Ihla Santiago the trade winds came in fairly strong but it was just an area of acceleration close to the coast and they soon moderated to a pleasant 12 -15 knots. Unfortunately the angle is still challenging and we will be tacking later on to make the island of Sao Nicolau where we are thinking of taking a break. But that's all tomorrow and anything can happen.

We spent a good two hours while we were motoring washing the sahara sand of the boat. This reddish dust has accumulated over the last week and has got into everything. It is very fine but, I suspect, fairly abrasive. We also made water, something we have been putting off until we escaped from the murky waters of Porto Praia.


Sun Apr 23 11:45 2017 NZST
GPS: 14 54.690n 023 30.24w

At anchor, Porto Praia, Ilha de Santiago, Cabo Verde.

Still her in Porto Praia. Still enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city. Kriol Jazz Festival, Easter Mass, markets overflowing with fantastic vegetables and fruit. Women, tall, slender, perfectly upright, impossibly large loads on their heads. Smiles, dust, colour, love.

Still working on the boat, repairing, maintaining, improving, catching up on the mail and what's going on with family and friends.

Exercising again. 0600 - first light. Cup-of-tea. While the kettle's boiling I launch the dinghy. 30 minutes later we are rowing into the beach, teashirts, shorts, no shoes. We ride the swell into the beach, getting better at avoiding a dousing, pull the dinghy up. 20 minutes running between sand and surf - we are chariots of fire! Another 20 extending and flexing, all those parts that have not seen much motion in the ocean.

Now it's 8 PM. The tropical sun has long left us for the Pacific. We have returned the boat to order after the jobs of the day. I am sitting on the port side of the saloon, feet up on the settee, Chris Rea rocking away in the background. Two candles illuminate our home, their fire guttering in the flurries of the NE trades which penetrate the saloon.

In the galley some 6 feet away on the other side of the boat Ana, dressed in blue sarong, is cooking supper. The candlelight highlights her tanned shoulders and back. To her left a cork pinboard is home to the photos of kids, parents, grandkids, reminders of times past and future hopes.

Further left, on my side of the saloon, a blow-up globe swings gently in time with the perpetual swell, a poor representation of this beautiful planet, but still a reminder of places and people.

A tiki stands on the shelf, sentinel to Vanuatu and bringing memories of Tom and Kim from Canada in "Exit Strategy". A miniature bronze kiwi guarding its single egg sits close by, crafted and given to us by Doug, who with Nikki live on their 1950s New Zealand ketch, Karie-L. A small olivewood box sits next to them, a Christmas gift from Aleko of Beduin, to Ana. Further left a pennant hangs from the vegetable nets; "Club Escuela Deportes Nauticos, Puerto Williams" the most southern kids sailing school in the world. There is rafia fan woven by Sarah, the nurse of Falanga, Fiji, arguably the most beautiful lagoon in the world. As my gaze scans our miniature home the memories of the last 4 years and the people, always the people, all those hundreds, maybe thousands of people, return, and return, and return.

I am steeling myself for the return to Europe and our move from this home to the next....but luckily, memories and friendships are such, that they will move with me.


Thu Apr 13 9:48 2017 NZST
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 14 54.690n 023 30.24w
Run: 167.6nm (303.4km)
Avg: 7.6knts
24hr: 183.3nm
Weather: Wind NNE 10kts. 0m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1006

At anchor, Porto Praia, Ilha de Santiago, Cabo Verde.

Listening to Louis Armstrong singing "Let's fall in love" after horizontal dinner, the first in 27 days.

All well. Not rushing anywhere for a while. Will clear in to Cape Verdes tomorrow, perhaps get a beer under a tree.

Thanks for all your YIT comments, e mails and support on what has been quite a hard passage. We will not update every day while we are in the islands but will do so when we move location. Ana says it was 3500 nautical miles from Brazil the way we came and it took 27 days. I found her with the calculator trying to work out the average miles per day but the G and T and the sunset became more important.


Wed Apr 12 11:51 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 13 48.89n 021 16.33w
Run: 140.8nm (254.8km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 128.2nm
Weather: Wind N 25kts. 2m waves. Sky 100% high cloud. Baro 1004

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdel 140miles to run, well actually beat, to get to Praia on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. But we are not there yet and the "tradewind surge" is in full swing. Grey clouds and the wind 25+ knots. Makes for a bumpy ride. I have just furled the yankee (our main forward headsail) so we are left with staysail and double reefed main. This makes the ride smoother and the windpilot has less trouble coping with the steering. The speed drops accordingly but sometimes a quiet night is more important.

I managed to save a flying fish which had found its way onto our deck. Usually I find them dead but I heard this one land and managed to get him back to the sea. They are an interesting study in evolution. The lower part of the tail fin is elongated so that they can keep the tip of it in the water while they fly, presumably to provide propulsion and/or to steer. They seem to do this initially and then glide higher above the waves, perhaps using the uplift. Ana thinks they flap their elongated pectoral fins but I think they may just glide. Anyway the ability to leap out of the water and fly a few hundred metres is a good defence mechanism against marauding predators. Their sense of direction and landing technique still need a bit more honing, perhaps a few more 1000s of years evolution will fix it.


Tue Apr 11 9:30 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 12 08.72n 020 04.43w
Run: 148.1nm (268.1km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.1nm
Weather: Wind NE 15 kts. 2m waves. Sky 50% high cloud. Baro 1004

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde Still hard on the wind on starboard tack. It will be very odd to stand on a level floor again. Today started rough with the wind strong and the 3m waves, short and steep. We struggled to keep ourselves going and the boat. Ana gave me a good long sleep while she dealt with matters marine, and I am doing the same for her now. We are tired, both physically and mentally, but a cool beer under a tree, and then perhaps another, followed by an ice cream, will probably sort the problem.

According to the forecast we are due one more punch tomorrow but hopefully, not for too long.

Ana saw a turtle today, no identification of type, just big. Other than the flying fish that's about the only signs of life we have seen.


Mon Apr 10 9:30 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 10 43.31n 018 26.43w
Run: 129.2nm (233.9km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 176.2nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde Hard on the wind on starboard tack heading , not quite, towards Praia, the SE Port of entry in the Cape Verdes. Hopefully the wind will turn a little more NE now and then over the next few days to help us make landfall, otherwise we will need to tack back upwind.

It is a beautiful clear evening here, the temperature very pleasant, just cool enough to wear a fleece. THere are no ships to be seen although when we look at the AIS information on the chart there are many not too far away. A very busy corner in the Ocean.


Sun Apr 9 15:54 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots, motoring
knts
GPS: 09 06.29n 017 29.31w
Run: 154.6nm (279.8km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 122.3nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde We've been motoring into a light north wind all day, trying to get as far north as we possibly can, before the forecast trade wind surge arrives and we peel off to the north west towards the Cape Verde islands, some 500nm away. The prevailing trade wind is N/NNE, so we will be hard on the wind for this stage of the voyage.

We're in company, with the AIS telling us there are 51 vessels in the vicinity, two of which are Canadian War ships. We're sort of hoping there isn't something going on here that we don't know about. Could well be, for, apart from snippets from friends warning us we probably won't want to return back to the western world, we've had no international news since we left the Falklands on 24 February! Meanwhile on Ithaka we have taken the opportunity of all the electrical power to make water, top up batteries and charge everything. We have poured 80 litres of reserve fuel into the fuel tanks, and washed and dried the laundry. Oh what domestic bliss!


Sat Apr 8 9:33 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 06 52.40n 017 39.20w
Run: 142.9nm (258.6km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 146.9nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde ..and now we have what cruisers dread, the bloody wind, it's gone ahead! And it did have to happen in the end, and we have been very fortunate to have passed through the doldrums and managed to get this far North without a head wind, and it's been forecast for the last few days, but it's still hard to accept that now we have to sail so much further to get to the Cape Verdes.

But that's why we are here. Because we like sailing and an essential part of this pastime is that you have to zig-zag to go towards the wind.

Having reminded ourselves of the above we had a glass of chilled red wine and some brazil nuts while having a grandstand view of another electrical storm occurring about 3 miles astern.

Incidentally, we noted that we often didn't hear any thunder with the very dramatic lightning. We asked Bruce-the-weather and this is the reason: In answer to your question concerning the lack of thunder, you are in the equatorial region where the freezing level within the clouds is at the highest point anywhere in the world. Typically 5-6km up inside the thunderstorms. It is the hail within the thunderstorms that generates the charge separation that then produces the lightning. Much of this activity is occurring quite high in the clouds - 8-10km up, compared to 1-2km in the mid-latitudes (30-40 degrees North and South). So the sound has further to travel for you to hear it while the lightning is readily seen at the extra distance.


Fri Apr 7 10:12 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 04 49.08n 017 25.97w
Run: 319.9nm (579km)
Avg: 13.4knts
24hr: 320.6nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde We are just passing through another line of thunderstorms. It is odd that there is lots of lightning, but very little thunder, even though the clouds we are trying to dodge are very close to us. As we approached this latest band in the dusk it looked like a line of ferocious dogs, their heads all growling and spittle dripping from their mouths. Then as we passed under their heads they melted into dull grey fluff. All bark and no bite.

We've been motor sailing all day in very light winds, trying to go north as quickly as possible. We know we will have head winds soon, and the rodeo will start again.


Thu Apr 6 10:15 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 00 12.29n 017 48.77w

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verde Sleep, glorious sleep! After over 15 days of beating to windward, and then 'rounding the mark' I've been able catch up on sleep. In the past, I've likened the 2 man watch system to having a new born baby to tend to every 2-4 hours. I've decided beating to windward is far worse. At least your bed or comfy chair isn't at a 30-40 degree angle which is constantly bucking like a horse in a rodeo! This lack of sleep doesn't seem to affect Colin, nor does seasickness. Which is excellent in one way, but slightly irritating in another! I'm just a mere mortal.


Wed Apr 5 11:30 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 00 12.29n 017 48.77w
Run: 181.8nm (329.1km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 164nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Ithaka crossed the equator this evening at 1745 local, 2045 UTC. We crossed the line under a deep orange waxing moon suspended above us like a cup, half full, and shedding a ruddy glow across the smooth sea. With Handel's Water Music and Caipirinhas, we remembered the last 4 years in the southern hemisphere, the people, the places, the animals, the birds, the laughs, the sad times, and we look forward to the northern hemisphere, and to the future.


Tue Apr 4 8:54 2017 NZST
Speed:
7.5 knots
knts
GPS: 02 13.25s 018 49.88w
Run: 98.9nm (179km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 144.3nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes And so ended the 16 day beat to windward from Brazil. This afternoon it felt like we had reached the windward mark in a race. Of course there was no bouy, just a dot on the electronic chart. We bore away, still on starboard tack but now reaching, finally heading for the equator. The boat flattened out, the speed went up a knot, we opened the hatches over the saloon, the fresh air blew through.

We are now heading NNE, the thunder storms we have come through are behind us and to our west. There is opportunity for more but for now the forecast looks good to the equator some 130 miles to the North.


Mon Apr 3 16:27 2017 NZST
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 03 10.40s 019 53.97w
Run: 165nm (298.7km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 126.3nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Stormy place. Not much time for r and r. Plenty of wind, no wind, lightning, torrential rain, very hot, very wet, don't recommend this place for your next holiday!


Sun Apr 2 9:06 2017 NZST
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 04 25.00s 021 56.52w
Run: 161.4nm (292.1km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.9nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes We've been making water each day, over the past few days, without the engine's help. Thanks to the sun, a steady 18-20 knot wind, and the past Herculean efforts of Colin to repair the wind generator, and replace the old solar panels. Apart from the luxury of having a large fridge (with ice!!), we can now make 20L of water per day without putting too much stress on the batteries, and so are very pleased with ourselves.

Great excitement. We had a visitor overnight, a Lesser Black-Backed Gull. He/she found a niche on the outer deck among the ropes, making it very awkward for us when trying to reef down in a hurry in the dark. Gone by early morning, hopefully Jonathan/Joan will make it back to land, somewhere.


Sat Apr 1 10:45 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 06 03.33s 023 36.78w
Run: 168.5nm (305km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.4nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Very hot. Now baking bread in the wee hours of the day, when it's at its coolest. At present we're unable to open the deck hatches, due to the sea constantly washing over the decks.

We are not fishing at present, as we still have lots of vacuum packed meat and fish to wade through. Yesterday we sat down to enjoy, what we thought were, Brazilian beef steaks, only to spit the first mouthfuls out due to the heavy concentration of salt. After soaking for 24 hours, rinsing 3 times, and then dicing the meat into tiny pieces, it was edible. Unfortunately we have 3 more of these salted packages. We ask ourselves, who buys this stuff, apart from mugs like us?!


Fri Mar 31 11:42 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.3 knots
knts
GPS: 07 52.59s 025 14.76w
Run: 171.6nm (310.6km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 167.1nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Wind still blowing, Noreast we're going, Ithaka showing what she can do.

Colin and Ana, En route to Brittania, Contemplative their manner, What will they do? Adventures there'll be, By land p'haps, less sea, And maybe a tree, And a sculpture, or two.

When Ithaka's sold, A new life will unfold, Before grandchildren grow old, That's what they'll do.


Thu Mar 30 11:03 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.8 knots
knts
GPS: 09 41.24s 026 57.92w
Run: 157.8nm (285.6km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 152.4nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Very hot today although the wind is still blowing 12-15kts, and actually moving more to the south. This means we have finally reached the trade winds although we will only be with them for a few days before we cross the equator and enter the doldrums.

Ithaka behaving very well. The only problem is the HF Radio reception which is poor during the day at the moment so we must wait for nightfall before logging on and downloading e mails. We seem to be about equidistant from 3 sailmail stations, Chile, Trinidad and Africa but all are 3000miles away.


Wed Mar 29 10:12 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 11 13.810s 028 40.63w
Run: 139.9nm (253.2km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 140.5nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes There is no life on this ocean except us. We have not seen a bird for over a week. We saw flying fish in the 20s but even they have disappeared now. Is this what we should expect? I do not remember the ocean being so sterile when I crossed it in the 70s.

Ithaka continues to plough on largely unattended allowing us to read and plan the next phase of our lives. The windpilot does a great job provided the wind is above 14 knots. Less than this, Ithaka develops lee helm (tends to bare away from the wind) and the windpilot struggles to push her back into the wind. Then Ana finds herself steering and, if it is my watch, I go into a frenzy of adjusting sails and ropes to try to get the boat balanced again. Usually the wind comes back again and all is well.

We are making fairly slow progress because we are hard on the wind. If we could free the sheets and sail 10 degrees lower we would probably do 20 more miles per day. However, the key to getting to the Cape Verdes is easting so we must keep plodding along for now. We are heading for a waypoint on the equator at 22degrees west. Today we hear news from Bruce-the-weather, that there will be a trade wind surge which will allow us to carry the trade winds north of the equator and give us longer to attain our easting before we hit the doldrums. We like his optimism but are reserving our judgement on the matter. We have been disappointed before! We continue to eat things "just in time", sometimes "just too late"! Today we had oranges and grapes which had seen better days. However, on the whole we eat very well and do not want for anything yet. The power generating systems are doing very well, solar and wind keeping the fridge cool enough to make ice for drinks.


Tue Mar 28 10:18 2017 NZDT
GPS: 12 55.140s 029 49.090w
Run: 104.6nm (189.3km)
Avg: 7.6knts
24hr: 183.2nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Another glorious day. We started with a fine breeze, as always closehauled on starboard tack. Full white sails and 5 to 6 knots boat speed, the windpilot doing its job and we, relaxing, catching up on e mails, reading, just like it says in the brochure. THe wind died a littel this afternoon so a little more input required from the crew. Ana hand steering in her watch and me, boat-whispering, as she call it, in mine. Hoping for a little more breeze overnight and from a direction which lets us get further east.

Wind E 11kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 15% cloud. Baro 1005


Mon Mar 27 20:36 2017 NZDT
GPS: 14 21.339s 030 18.463w
Run: 184.4nm (333.8km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 133.1nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Ana here. Reporting that it's just the usual day at the office.

It's Mother's Day back in the UK, so I thought I would indulge myself in quoting the following: "The earth is not inherited from the fathers (or mothers, in my case!) but borrowed from the children." Wind NE 16kts. 1.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1007


Sun Mar 26 11:21 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 55.910s 031 01.616w
Run: 85.5nm (154.8km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 147.6nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes We've been heading just west of north, in a gentle breeze, all day. Finally, in the past hour, a more easting wind has arrived to help us on our way towards our aim of 22 deg longitude at the equator. The iNavX tells us its 1,200nm to this waypoint.

While off watch I've just finished reading "At Hawthorn Time" by Melissa Harrison. A beautifully skilled piece of writing. Now onto "The Kindness of Enemies" by Leila Aboulela. One thing this long distance sailing lark does is allow you to indulge in the pleasure of reading a book in just a few days, instead of over months, when knackered at the end of a day.

Wind NE 12kts. 0.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1007


Sat Mar 25 21:27 2017 NZDT
GPS: 18 09.632s 030 52.835w
Run: 122.9nm (222.4km)
Avg: 3.6knts
24hr: 86nm

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Oooh-ooo! A gentle call from Ana pierces my sleep. It's 5am, the end of her watch and start of mine. I open my eyes. The grey light of dawn weakly illuminates the cabin. I lie, naked, no need even for the sheet which is, instead, formed into a wedge to support me against the heeled cabin wall. The gentle gurgling on the far side of the wall tells me we are still making way, on our way. There is more light than yesterday, a reminder to change our time to keep pace with our eastward progress.

I open the cabin door to find Ana, lifejacket over tee shirt and knickers, completing the log. A brief word, a brush of lips, and she is gone, to her land of dreams.

I pull on shorts and tee shirt, briefly check Ithaka's vital signs, AmpHours, Volts, Latitude, Longitude, then up the steps into the cockpit.

We are close hauled on starboard tack, as we have been for the last three days. Full yankee set with-in 50mm of the port spreader, full staysail and full mainsail, as much power as we can muster. I note the wind indicator at the masthead, the leech tension, the flowing tell-tales, all now increasingly visible. The wind is light, just enough to coax the wind generator into motion, but insufficient to raise any useful volts.

I move aft behind the binnacle. The instruments glow with pleasant familiarity. On the left, magnetic heading, ridiculously optimistic owing to the large magnetic variation in this part of the world. In the centre, depth, speed and distance, the former flashing zero, not because we are aground, but because the sonar pulse is too weak to make the return trip to the seabed, 3km below us, and back again. On the right wind speed and direction, 10 knots and 45 degrees apparent. "Apparent" is what the boat feels - the true wind modified by the passage of the boat through the air. Below these three, the compass, glowing red inside it's hemispherical dome, dancing in time with Ithaka's motion.

The distant line of the horizon still hides the ascendant sun, but already it is illuminating, bringing colour and definition to the grey. Small cumulous clouds are ranked across the eastern sky, their flat bases resting on some invisible celestial rule. Nearer, their larger, darker brother, blossoms high and black, angled lines of rain linking it to the sea below. I note its position and likely track. It should pass ahead of us but, apart from a soaking, may also bring increased wind. Should I reef in anticipation? No, not this time. It's not that big or ugly.

The wavelet ruckled sea is taking on form and definition as the sun rises, the underlying ocean swells marching past, an unending progression driven by some distant storm. Ithaka rises and falls in time, submissive, a bobbing cork, her horizon stretching and receding involuntarily.

All is well in our ocean world. I go inside and put the kettle on.

Wind NE 15kts. 0.5mwaves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1006


Fri Mar 24 11:09 2017 NZDT
Speed:
2.2 knots
knts
GPS: 19 54.810s 031 11.932w
Run: 114.7nm (207.6km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 111.7nm
Weather: Wind SW 5 kts. calm sea. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1005

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes The wind ran out of puff around 11am, so we decided to motor in the hope of moving out of the mini doldrum. Four hours later there was still no wind. We cut the engine, as we're concerned about the diesel usage, and have been drifting ever since. Took the opportunity for a dip over the side, taking turns, and then later enjoyed a caipirinha while watching the sun set. Once in a while we get it right!


Thu Mar 23 10:30 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 20 45.490s 032 43.360w
Run: 160.9nm (291.2km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 169.4nm
Weather: Wind SW 10kts. 1.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1004

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Another lovely sunny day with the light wind on the starboard beam. We are making our way through the vegetables and fruit in order of their decline. Tonight we are having Oven Roasted Root Frittarta, a recipe our niece, Lucy gave us.

Last night I looked to the North and say a familiar shape, albeit upside down. The Plough is back with us again, the Pole Star, for which it is the pointer, still way over the horizon, but positive proof that we are moving North in what is a watery desert. We see no birds, no whales or dolphins, no life of any kind. However, there was some death on the deck this morning in the form of a small flying fish. We have also noted that the sun is moving forward setting and rising earlier each day. We will put the ships clock forward soon, and be an hour closer to UTC.


Wed Mar 22 11:42 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 21 20.830s 035 08.120w
Run: 163nm (295km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 156.5nm
Weather: Wind SW 10kts. 1.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1005

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Lovely sunny day with the light wind behind us. Fluffy cumulus clouds scattered about the sky. Did some catching up on sleep. Ana sorted the vegetables and fruit. Brazilian carrots are not too good so we'll be eating them pretty quickly. Lettuce and celery sitting in pots of water reviving. Ana calculated 3200 miles to Cape Verde by the roundabout route we will take to get in the trade winds, so probably four weeks or so. Hope the food lasts! We'll need to catch fish.


Tue Mar 21 10:42 2017 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 knots
knts
GPS: 21 58.465s 037 34.868w
Run: 133.6nm (241.8km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 136.2nm
Weather: Wind S 15-20kts. 1m waves. Sky 80% cloud. Baro 1006

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes Terrible night of rain and squalls but it's getting better now. So much rain. Someone suggested I should write poems but the only rhymes I have in my head just now are full of four letter words! Thinking back over the last few days you might think all is doom and gloom on Ithaka. Well not all the time. We had fine rainbows today and are now on course and making good speed.

Since I can't think of a poem I thought you might like this one sent to us by Jo, Ithaka cat sitter and supporters club, Edinburgh. It sums up the last 24 hours quite nicely! It rained and rained and rained and rained, The average it was well maintained, And when our fields were simply bogs, It started raining cats and dogs, After a drought of half an hour, There came a most refreshing shower, And then the queerest thing of all, A gentle rain began to fall.


Mon Mar 20 11:09 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 22 47.840s 039 28.330w
Run: 139.7nm (252.9km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 140.9nm
Weather: Wind SSE 20kts. 2m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1007

On passage from Brazil towards Cape Verdes One of those grey days. Plenty of wind which is allowing us to make an ENE course at present and waves which leap on board every now and then. We need to gain lots of easting before turning further North. Fairly quiet in the boat both of us trying to catch up on sleep after the passage along the Brazil coast and through the oilfields off Cape Frio where there was a lot of traffic.


Sun Mar 19 11:21 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 23 00.700s 041 39.230w
Run: 107.4nm (194.4km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 119.3nm
Weather: Wind SSE 15kts. 1.5m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1009

On passage from Brazil We were hit by a thunderbolt last night during a massive electrical storm. I was steering. Enormous woosh then bang. Felt like someone had hit me on the head and my hands flew off the wheel. Then the great roar of thunder. I think there was a bit of the strike that jumped from the bimini frame onto me and into the wheel. Electronics and electrics all survived thankfully. I understand aluminium boats are very good for this as they are a perfect faraday cage conducting the electricity around the occupants and into the sea...if you are inside of course! Anyway we are on our way from Rio Province and have left Cabo Frio astern as we head due east into the ocean. Annoying swell is stopping us a little but generally all well.


Sat Mar 18 13:45 2017 NZDT
Speed:
3.0 knots
knts
GPS: 23 06.680s 043 20.330w
Run: 63.4nm (114.8km)
Weather: Wind W

Ozzie grandmother shafted in Brazil! British husband caught in crossfire.

We have been offline for a few days so some catching up required. Remember we decided to go to Brazil. We arrived last Sunday and spent a delightful afternoon and night at anchor, savouring the new country. Early on Monday we moved toward the town of Angra dos Reis. After trying to wake up anyone in the yacht club we motored on and signed up for one night at, what I think is, the most expensive marina in the world, certainly in our experience of the world. From here we walked the 3km into town to visit the various offices to "clear in" to Brazil.

First Immigration, the Federal Police, 1100 hrs - closed for 2 1/2 hour lunch. We took the opportunity to buy a coffee and I had a haircut. Back at 1400, gate locked. Now 36degrees and gate in open sun. Ana took to rattling the gate and shouting in true ozzie style to gain attention. Successful but no police friends made. Actually the "police" turn out to be all women, no uniforms, in fact not very police-like at all but very officious. I am awarded 30 days in Brazil and passport stamped. Now Ana's turn.

Police lady to Ana "Where is your visa?" Ana. "I don't have one because we were not originally coming to Brazil".

Police lady. " No visa, no entry".

Some explanatory information here. This is an example of the so called "reciprocity agreement" between some south American countries and Australia. It is actually a statement of disagreement. Because Australia require any visitor to have a visa prior to entering Australia, some countries, notably Argentina and Brazil, reciprocate by imposing the same restrictions on Australian visitors. So thanks to Australian and Brazilian tit-for-tat politics Ana cannot enter the country. We pointed out that we were already here and not really ready to head back out into the ocean. She could fly to Australia and get a visa. We checked the Brazilian Embassy in Canberra - 21 days minimum to get a visa after they have received the passport and completed forms - no fast tracking whatever the reason. Not much good to Ana then. After some phone calls to superiors by police ladies, Ana was awarded 7 days max in Brazil, BUT confined to the boat! So that was Monday over. Only the first office visited all others now closed.

Tuesday. Now me alone, as Ana confined to the boat. Visited customs. Much form filling but generally nice people. While there met 2 man crew of a french boat who were checking out of Brazil. They had tried, but found it impossible, to do this in Rio de Janeiro (a main clearance port in Brazil) so had given up and sailed to Angra dos Reis to try their luck there. 2 offices completed, 1 to go.

Visited Port Captain, well actually his offices. Met by a team of naval personnel, some in uniform with guns, others in shorts and flipflops. The French crew arrived too, hopeful that they could sail for Buenos Aires that afternoon. No way. The Naval chaps wanted our licences to drive a power boat. We pointed out that our boats are yachts, not power boats. The Navy said that because they have an engine they are powerboats. We say that in Europe we do not need to have a licence to drive powerboats. Hmm what to do now. French crew have been in Brazil for 2 months driving their yacht/powerboat and all they want to do is leave. The naval chaps suggest we go and have lunch and come back later. Lunched and coffied we return two hours later. Sense has prevailed. They have found a clause in the rule book which allows foreign yachts 6 months in Brazil before skippers must obtain their powerboat licence. Note. If Yacht did not have engine then no licence required despite the fact that the level of skill required to sail without engine back up is many times greater.

We have our documents photocopied for the 2nd time and are presented with a stamped and signed paper saying we can stay in Brazil, well Ithaka and I can, but not Ana. The French get a signed paper saying they can leave, and do so, tout de suite.

End of day 2 - We have cleared in to Brazil.

Celebrate in restaurant close to boat, Ana illicity. Drink Caiparinhias and much cold beer. Very good! Wednesday. Provision the boat with non perishables. Ana makes illicit trips to the laundry and supermarket. We are still in the expensive marina - 2 nights now. Get propane refilled. Then depart marina and anchor in noisy, smelly bay closer to town.

Thursday. I go ashore, Ana drops me off on the beach as not good to leave dinghy on beach unattended and available for theft. I go to 3 offices to clear out of Brazil. The same 3 offices. Police lady very nice and efficient. . Customs lady very nice and very slow. Port Captain's team now consists of one fairly large chap in uniform who is obviously very tired and bored. His head is so heavy that he must prop it up with his right hand, his elbow firmly planted on the desk. One finger of the other hand is used to type and occasionally to press "copy" on the photocopier. However, within one hour I have a paper saying I can leave Brazil. I walk out into the fresh 36 degrees and dance down the street. Back on Ithaka I deflate the dinghy in preparation for departure. A yacht comes by and the skipper shouts out that I have left important papers in the Port Captain's office. Inflate dinghy, Ana rows me ashore, walk with grim determination to Port Captain's office. Inside I find large Naval Chap smiling at me - he hands me Ithaka's registration document which I, no actually he, had left in the photocopier. I go outside, now 38 degrees. Still dancing down the street.

And so we left Angra dos Reis, and Brazil on Thursday early evening. We spent an illicit night in a lovely bay and set sail this morning at 0600. Very slowly as little wind but we are heading East, Brazil fading in the evening haze, and in our memories. The Caiparinhias were very good. We have 2 bottles of Cusaca and 50 limes with which to toast Brazil.


Mon Mar 13 15:03 2017 NZDT
GPS: 23 01.514s 044 19.871w
Run: 54.8nm (99.2km)
Avg: 548knts
24hr: 13152nm

At anchor, Ilha do Maia, Baia de Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro province, Brazil.

Sunday morning before dawn. First we smell Mother Earth, Pachumama. She assaults our sterile senses. Hints of fern, palm, cedar, soft moist fertile loam. Then sounds, of machinery, waves lapping on the beach, people, music, cars. The dawn comes and with it the shape of the bay, the islands. The colours move from monochrome to full colour as the sun climbs. Lush green bush covers the islands, palm trees spiking into sky, the greens flowing down the hills to the calm blue. Blue and yellow boats, white sails, dark frigate birds against the sky.

We motored into the bay at first light. Bay is a misnomer. Ilha Grande is like the Isle of White and Baia de Ilha Grande, the Solent. There was no wind or swell. We drifted while we carefully lifted the anchor from its ocean storage deep in the anchor locker, onto the deck, using the spinnaker halyard. Then re-connected it with its chain, finally lowering both over the side into the water and recovering the anchor onto the bow roller with the windlass. Now able to anchor, we continued our progression through the bay arriving at the main town of Angra dos Reis by lunchtime. Loads of yachts here, mainly on moorings or in the 3 marinas. We established that, as it is Sunday, customs and immigration are closed, so moved on down the coast to this spot where we anchored.

Within 5 minutes I was in the water, warm, but delightfully cool compared with the air. With mask and snorkel I inspected Ithaka's bottom, the first time since we put her in the water in Puerto Montt some 4000 miles ago. Some ice damage to the antifouling paint, not much paint on the bottoms of rudder and keel, both having hit mud and worse on the odd occasion, all three blades of the propeller in place, rudder and keel looking good, anodes well used, obviously working, but life in them still. Fantastic result, testament to the last great antifouling campaign by Ana and Lucas in New Zealand 15 months ago.

Back on deck we lunched in royal fashion with plenty of beer. Then slept, and slept, and slept.


Mon Mar 13 14:57 2017 NZDT
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 23 46.880s 044 04.260w
Run: 164nm (296.8km)
Avg: 3.1knts
24hr: 75.2nm
Weather: Wind Var

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro Loads of wind, then from Saturday morning, none. We have been motoring for 20 hours across a blue ocean under a burning sun. One ship passed within two miles, otherwise nothing, although the AIS is showing many targets, but all are over the horizon or lost in the haze. No birds, no dolphins. A strong counter current is slowing us down. Saturday evening now and we are timing our arrival off Ilha Grande for first light tomorrow. We are tired. 15 nights of 3 hours on, 3 hours sleep, is taking its toll. Clouds obscure the nearly full moon, the humidity is horrendous, water is condensing on the rig and the slack mainsail and, as Ithaka rolls, raining down onto the open companion way where I stand, looking out into the mist.

I go below, put on the kettle, have a nice cup of tea, Yorkshire Tea, good and strong. Life is good again!


Sat Mar 11 10:36 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 25 50.360s 042 46.140w
Run: 140.8nm (254.8km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 140.2nm
Weather: Wind NNE 18 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1005

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro A rough night with 30 knots gusting 35, unfortunately from where we wanted to go. We plodded along with 3 reefs and staysail, the boat reasonably comfortable but slow. The wind and seas are improving now and we are going at a better pace. Ana in very good form, not a trace of seasickness.

We are just passing a massive oil field development. The pipelay barge Solitaire is here together with an armada of support vessels. We can sea the rig about 5 miles away. 29 AIS targets in total. No details of this on the Navionics chart but not really surprised.

Steak for dinner and bread baking in the oven. All well.


Fri Mar 10 10:30 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 27 30.300s 041 27.300w
Run: 135.7nm (245.6km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.1nm
Weather: Wind NE 22 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1007

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro Close hauled on starboard tack with 22knots true wind from NE and 2 metre waves to crash into, fall off and generally get stopped by. No relief from this unfortunately for the next couple of days by which time we should be close to the Brazilian coast but maybe not close to Rio as we are being pushed east by the wind. Boat standing up to it all very well as are the crew.


Thu Mar 9 15:54 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 29 27.959s 041 33.726w
Run: 172nm (311.3km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 167.8nm
Weather: Wind ESE 16 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1015

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro No monsters roared today, thank goodness. Just a gentle breeze, sunshine and heat. Now the butter and chocolate need to go in the fridge. We're expecting things to get a bit more lively from tonight for the next 2-3 days, with a strong North/North-easterly wind.

We seem to be in a bit of black hole as far as comms. is concerned, and are having trouble sending/receiving sailmail. So please don't worry if you don't hear from us over the next few days. Also please keep any messages brief, and we will do the same.


Wed Mar 8 15:18 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 31 35.379s 043 04.079w
Run: 136.1nm (246.3km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 157nm
Weather: Wind S 16 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1012

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro Ana always likens sailing across an ocean to tiptoeing across the belly of a sleeping monster.

Well today we trod a little heavily and the monster roared.

It was a beautiful blue sea blue sky morning. With 15knots of wind on the port quarter, Ithaka was in her element, the windpilot steering straight and true, the flying fish skittering across the wavelets. We were dressed in shorts, down below working our way through the daily chores. I went to tip the dustpan over the side and looking to windward, noticed a very black cloud. I looked again and it was bigger. It was growing upwards before my eyes like a nuclear explosion With both of us now on deck, we put the 2nd reef in the main, following the now familiar procedure. It came in a treat, no tangles, no sailcloth jamming the cringles, all done in a couple of minutes. I shouted to Ana, now on the wheel, that I would put the preventer on, a rope from the boom end to a strong padeye on the foredeck which prevents the boom swinging across the boat uncontrollably, should we accidentally gybe. I got as far as the shrouds when we were hit by an enormous blast. Ithaka took off like a scalded cat, spray flying out to either side as she planed like a dinghy dead downwind. No time for the preventer, back to the cockpit and winding madly on the yankee furler as Ana paid out the sheet. Amazingly it came in smoothly, and now it was just the double reefed main blasting us forward, Ana locked on the wheel, rain cascading down her hair and face.

10 minutes later all was quiet, the monster asleep again.

We tidied up the cockpit, mopped up the saloon floor and had a cup of tea before resetting the sails, relieved that the monster's roar had only cost us wet clothes.


Tue Mar 7 18:30 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5 knots
knts
GPS: 33 25.622s 043 54.555w
Run: 136.2nm (246.5km)
Avg: 4.2knts
24hr: 101.4nm
Weather: Wind NNW 10 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1012.

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro Not much progress north today. The wind has been playing a merry game with us. Enticing us with 7-10 knots,then petering slowly down to 3-4 knots, and just when we (or rather, I - Colin wouldn't stoop so low!) are about to give up and start the engine, the wind returns! Still, the novelty of a warm gentle breeze and bright sunshine hasn't worn off.

While off watch, we've been able to relax a little, and been reading about the Falkland conflict. We purchased 4 books while there. This is highly unusual for us, reluctant to burden the boat with non-essentials.

The first book, "Argentine Fight for the Falklands" by Middlebrook, avoids the sovereignty issue, and is from the Argentine military perspective. It's amazing to learn the Argentines thought Britain would not put up a fight, and only manned for the taking and administration of the islands. It would have been a much more bloody war, and perhaps a very different outcome, had the Argentines also planned for defence.

The second book "Doctor for Friend and Foe" is written by Jolly, who was a British medic in charge of the makeshift hospital at Ajax Bay. As the site was also used as a supply base, according to the Geneva convention, the hospital was unable to have a red cross status to protect it from attack. Consequently the building housed 2 unexploded bombs! During air raids, with immense professionalism (and courage), surgery continued on both the British and Argentine wounded.

"Fortress Falklands" by Bound, an islander, describes how these islands are still a highly manned garrison. The conflict,35 years on, is still very fresh in the minds of the locals, which is also what we found.

Happily, oblivious to all this madness, the penguins, seals, dolphins and albatrosses continue to live in these islands, their islands. The fourth book, "Furious Fifties" by Leroux, contains stunning wildlife photography, and is an absolute joy to browse through. It does and will remind us of the beauty of the islands we've left behind.


Mon Mar 6 10:15 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6 knots
knts
GPS: 35 18.810s 044 35.830w
Run: 158.1nm (286.2km)
Avg: 8.3knts
24hr: 198.1nm
Weather: Wind SSE 12 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 30% cloud. Baro 1007.

On passage from the Falklands to Rio de Janeiro! We have always enjoyed being able to change our plans on a whim while we have been cruising. Yesterday was no exception. Our weather router, Bruce, has been doing his best to keep us out of the way of the worst fronts associated with depressions moving to our south and those generating to our west. This has resulted in us being where we are, somewhat north and west of where we expected but, thankfully, not having had any really bad weather. St Helena was a place to stop and re-provision rather than a place we really wanted to go. It is no longer the obvious stop on our route north as we noticed an alternative. Rio is only 800 miles away. We had a brief chat with Bruce about the feasibility of the passage from Rio to Cabo Verde. He is confident. So now we will go to Rio, as easy as that.

We should be there within a week. It is a long time since I sailed into Rio in the 70s. It was the most exciting city I had ever been in, so it will be interesting to see how it is now.

Meanwhile here we are in second heaven! Blue sea, Blue Sky, 15 knots of wind. Tea shirt and shorts (to protect from the sun!)


Sun Mar 5 15:06 2017 NZDT
Speed:
7 knots
knts
GPS: 37 07.616s 046 19.501w
Run: 137.1nm (248.2km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 137.7nm
Weather: Wind SE 15 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 90% cloud. Baro 1010.

On passage from the Falklands.

A yacht charter skipper we met in Ushuaia, who runs charters in the summers in both Alaska and Antarctica, described moving from the 40s into the 30s latitudes as going from one room to another, shutting the door behind you. Well, it wasn't quite like that for us yesterday, with 30 knots and 4 meter swell up our arse, but today dawn broke with a mild, warm wind and a calm sea. The first thing we noticed was that most of the birds that accompanied us from the south have suddenly disappeared. They revelled in the strong winds yesterday, superbly hugging the waves, turning sharply on one wing and rising for an overview. Perhaps they don't fancy this warmer, sedate room.

There's no desire for steaming hot porridge for breakfast. The many layers of clothing worn during the past 5 months have been stripped off. Joy of joys - no dripping condensation, and no unpleasant, very cold sensation when sitting on the heads (loo!).


Sat Mar 4 15:12 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 38 42.657s 047 50.354w
Run: 173.5nm (314km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.3nm
Weather: Wind SW 15 - 20 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1002.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

We roared out of the Forties. There was more roaring than we would have liked as the wind was high 20s gusting 30s. Initially we rather enjoyed surfing on the waves at 9-10 knots but then we realised that we did not trust either the autopilot or the windpilot to do the job and therefore one of us would be glued to the wheel until the wind abated. So we reduced sail to 2 pocket handkerchiefs and bowled along at 6-7 knots instead enjoying tea and cake in the warm sunshine while the windpilot looked after the steering.

Tomorrow I am going to dig deep in the cupboard to find my shorts, not seen since New Zealand, and perhaps the floppy sunhat.


Fri Mar 3 13:42 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 40 39.112s 049 54.521w
Run: 285.3nm (516.4km)
Avg: 14.8knts
24hr: 354.8nm
Weather: Wind NNW 15 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1006.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

The moon is new but moving from teen, to middle age. We had her hanging in the western sky for a couple of hours this evening before she was cocooned in billows of grey cloud. It's good to have a moon and really good when she is getting bigger as at present. She takes away the unknown, lightens the darkness, and broadens the horizon. Hopefully we will make St Helena before she becomes old and shriveled.

Meanwhile we await another front tonight but I am hopeful, with our good speed north today, that there will not be too much punch.

Our friends Marc and Catharine on their OVNI 43 (very like Ithaka) have just arrived in Montevideo after sailing from the Falklands a day or so before us. Their comment, "at 8PM it was 32degrees in the boat and there were people all over the beach - Nightmare". They have been in the south for 3 years - you get used to cold an penguins.


Thu Mar 2 18:24 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 44 36.950s 051 28.390w
Run: 59.9nm (108.4km)
Avg: 2.7knts
24hr: 65.5nm
Weather: Wind SSW 15 knots. 1.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1007.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

A front passed through today bringing wet rainy weather all morning, followed by post frontal showery windy weather this afternoon. However, wet and windy as it was, it has blown us in the right direction, well actually the right direction to allow us to dodge the wet windy weather which the next front is bringing on Friday. I sometimes wonder if we lose the goal of the passage, ie. St Helena, as we duck and dive around the weather systems, but then I look at the Gribs and notice all the purple 4 feather arrows and think it's actually quite good to be dodging them.

The birds are changing. Not many albatrosses now, I saw only 1 black browed soaring the wave lift today. We now have a new kind of Petrel, big and black but with white markings around the face, currently unidentified but we are working on it.

It's also getting warmer. Only 1 pair of socks and no fleece under the wet waterproofs. And the power useage is creeping up indicating the fridge is working longer hours. All of which is good as we are ready for some sun.


Wed Mar 1 20:27 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 44 29.950s 052 40.728w
Run: 131.7nm (238.4km)
Avg: 4.1knts
24hr: 98nm
Weather: Wind N 15 knots. 1m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Drizzle. Baro 1007.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

"Good Night", "Good Night" I replied to the now closed cabin door. Ana has gone off watch and by now will be horizontal, likely already asleep.

I am dressed in Musto, once bright red, ocean waterproofs, topped off with red Hutchwilco lifejacket, and headtorch. A sort of marine Santa Claus. I reach out through the companion way and feel the fabric jackstay which runs the length of the cockpit. To this I attach the carabina of my lifeline which now links me securely to the boat. I climb the steps, angled at 30 degrees because we are going upwind on port tack. I sit at the forward end of the port cockpit seat, looking aft, in the shelter of the cockit sprayhood, taking stock of the night.

My night world does not stretch far, about 2 metres. My eyes are drawn to the light, reflected light from the cockpit instruments which are on the aft side of the binnacle, standing tall and black in the centre of the cockpit. The light illuminates the upper three stainless spokes of the wheel, rotating back and forth, and behind, the white self steering windvane, moving from side to side. All is as it should be, the mechanisms of vane and steering keeping us 45 degrees off the wind.

I hear the regular swoosh of waves hitting hull, telling me that all is well, our speed is good, we are neither over or under canvassed.

I feel the regular undulation of the boat as she shoulders aside the waves, the regular rhythm, monotonous, continuous, the heartbeat. All is well.

Looking deeper into the night to starboard I now discern 2 shades of grey, almost the same but not quite. Sky above, and sea below, a hazy line separating the two. There is a world beyond the cockpit.

Misty, wet, soft, Atlantic, ocean.


Tue Feb 28 12:12 2017 NZDT
Speed:
0.6 knots
knts
GPS: 46 05.100s 054 10.773w
Run: 107.3nm (194.2km)
Avg: 4.5knts
24hr: 107.7nm
Weather: Wind S 3 knots. Smooth sea. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1007.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

Sailed NNW all day in very light winds until late afternoon when the wind died completely. We started the engine again but have turned it off to get some peace while we have dinner. The bird life has diminished since leaving the Falklands, just the odd storm petrel and Giant Petrels sitting on the water, also waiting for the wind. The highlight of the day was a pod of some 20 whales which appeared astern and tracked us for a few minutes before heading off to the south. They were not big whales, perhaps pilot whales but we did not get a close enough view to be sure. We are expecting the wind to come tomorrow as a big low pressure system tracks east, to the south of us.


Mon Feb 27 12:18 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 47 30.376s 055 05.623w
Run: 142.6nm (258.1km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 143.5nm
Weather: Wind N 15 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 80% cloud. Baro 1016.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

A ridge of high pressure today brought us very light winds and blue skies. We took the opportunity to catch up on sleep and I even read a book for a while. The downside was the noise of the engine which we used for much of the day to keep us moving North away from the next big depression which will roar through to our south in a day or so. The wind has now filled in from the North and we are heading east for a while. The humidity is incredibly high here. Even today with the sun out, the boat is damp, inside as well as on deck, and when you get to bed it takes a while for your body heat to warm up the cold damp bed linen. Roll-on, the tropics.


Sun Feb 26 12:27 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 knots
knts
GPS: 49 25.760s 056 13.243w
Run: 140.3nm (253.9km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 141.8nm
Weather: Wind NW 25 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1014.

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

We've been plodding into a 25 - 30 knot Northerly all day, close hauled on port tack. Seas not too bad, about 2metres, but the occasional goffer still bursts on the windward bow and sends a deluge 40feet aft into the cockpit, often, just as I am emerging to take a breath of sea air. The front is supposed to be passing about now and here are hopeful signs, the wind backing slightly and the barometer's fall slowing down. Ana has been surprisingly upright and eating, this very good for me as I had some opportunity to be horizontal.

We've emerged from the furious fifties and are now in the roaring forties, so far they have been cold, damp and not very inspirational! But overall all is well and we are heading north, slightly faster than a snail.


Sat Feb 25 12:42 2017 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 51 12.100s 057 46.300w
Run: 17.3nm (31.3km)
Weather: Wind SSW 15 knots. 1.0m swell. Sky 70% cloud. Baro 1022,

On passage Falklands to St Helena.

Departed Port Stanley at 1500 this afternoon in SW 30 knots coming from Antarctica. The wind has moderated now and we are running due North under full Yankee and double reefed main, the latter because we are wary about big squalls coming through overnight. Morrocan lamb for dinner. I am taking the first watch while Ana gets some sleep, thankfully the downwind start has not brought on the sea sickness. Unfortunately tomorrow we are expecting a frontal trough which will bring some strong northerlies for a time and then she may not be so bright. Anyway, good so far.


Wed Feb 22 10:21 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 22.325s 057 28.638w
Run: 46.3nm (83.8km)

On passage back to Port Stanley.

Well, we left at 0800 having said all our goodbyes and distributed our loose change and wifi cards amongst the needy. We left the harbour, said our goodbyes to Port Control and set a course for St. Helena. Ana went to bed as usual at this stage in a passage and I busied myself setting up the windpilot and fixing down the floors and all the other things we do at the start of a long passage. And then I thought I'd better download any e mails that might be waiting. Stupidly I had not done this before we left.

4 e mails the last one from Bruce the Weather entitled NO-GO RECOMMENDATION FROM STANLEY, sent a few hours before we left. He has identified a nasty new low which will be right on our track and unavoidable and which will give us 50 knot winds on Friday.

We could have just carried on a chanced it but why have a weather advisor if you don't take his advice. So "ready about" it was and now hoping to get a good sleep tonight in Port Stanley.

I just came across our departure check-list which lives in the front of our logbook. The last item on the list reads - Final weather forecast check!!!!!!


Mon Feb 13 12:57 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 15.276s 058 31.908w

Moored up in Port Stanley.

The wind died to nothing so we decided to stop off in a small bay on the North Coast of East Falkland as there was a forecast for more wind today. We crept into Seal Cove at 0100. Thankfully we had a full moon and a GPS track from another yacht which had been in there last year. There are no navigation aids except the kelp covering the rocks. We woke in daylight to find we had picked a good place.

We left again at 0830 and quickly picked up the forecast South Westerly. Last night's mist and cloud cleared and we had a wonderful fast sail to Stanley stopping only to watch a pair of very large whales, Sei whales we think.

We are now moored up at a pontoon in the centre of town. Beduin is just behind us. Unfortunately we have to vacate the berth when a cruise ship is in so for those periods we will be on anchor. Also expecting a Northerly gale tomorrow so we will be better on anchor for that anyway.

We will start preparing for the next big passage tomorrow but expect to be here at least a week


Sun Feb 12 13:48 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.0 knots
knts
GPS: 51 15.276s 058 31.908w
Run: 31.1nm (56.3km)
Weather: Wind ESE 5 knots. 1.5m swell. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1004,

On passage from San Carlos to Port Stanley.

We decided to do an overnight back to Port Stanley. Today we had amazing weather, well so did most of the Falklands. THe temperature was 22 deg when we left San Carlos and we tacked NW into 20 knots of warm breeze. Unfortunately the wind then died down and an hour ago we started the engine rather than slop about in the large swell which remains from yesterday's little blow. Hope to get in to Stanley tomorrow morning. The the holiday will be over and we will start working on the boat preparing her for the ocean passage.


Sat Feb 11 23:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 34.644s 059 02.001w
Run: 62.1nm (112.4km)

Anchored off San Carlos Settlement, East Falkland San Carlos Waters is where, on 21st May 1982, 3000 British Infantry were landed to re-take the Falklands from Argentina. We sailed up the waters aware of the significance of this event to the Falklanders of today; past the North Cardinal mark marking the wreck of the British Frigste, HMS Antelope, sunk by an Argentine Skyhawk; past the old mutton warehouse at Ajax Bay, used by the British forces in 1982 as a field hospital which treated British and Argentine wounded, and finally to the anchorage in Bonner Bay.

We rowed ashore and visited the British Cemetery. Here are 15 graves laid out neatly, surrounded by flowers. The cemetery is surrounded by a circular stone wall about 1.5 metres high, the same as corrals used for livestock, throughout the Falklands. A Union Jack flies above the corral. On the back wall are plaques listing those other men whose lives were lost in the campaign but whose graves remain the waters next to this place. Some 220 are listed.

Back in the centre of the settlement a "Museum" sign hung on a simple steel portacabin. Half of it was dedicated to the wildlife and the farming life of the settlement and half to the conflict. We spent an hour browsing through the exhibits. A rapier sea to air missile. A cluster bomb, guns, rations, a tin hat, photographs. Ana pointed out a photo of Corporal Lawrence Watts, 42 Commando, Royal Marines, beside his foxhole at Port San Carlos shortly after the landings. It was sent to the museum by his wife and widow, Susan, and daughter, Laura.

His face smiled out at me stirring distant memory. We were Sea Scouts together in middle class Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. He was in my sister's class at school. We shared the same cosy home-county expectations of steady employment and comfortable life. He looked the same, just a little older, moustached and the Sea Scout sailors cap had been replaced by a green beanie. He was killed 3 weeks later in the assault on the Argentine held position on Mount Harriet, a few days before the end of the conflict.

We met John and Sharon, in their smart green wooden house overlooking the bay. We accepted their offer of tea and stayed another two hours learning about their life in this remote settlement. As with all the islanders we have met, they are self sufficient, self motivated and enjoy their isolation. They are eternally grateful to Britain for it's retaliation following the Argentine invasion, which has allowed them to retain their country, their culture and their way of life.


Fri Feb 10 12:18 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 24.503s 060 26.986w

Anchored in Ship Harbour, Pebble Island, North East coast of West Falkland.

The day started at 6am in drizzle and fog, but soon cleared to be a fine sunny, summer(!!!) day. Temperature in the saloon reached 22 degrees! Just great for drying out the dampness onboard. We sailed 36nm eastwards through 3 passes, having calculated the state of the tides for each. We were pleased to have the engine for the middle one, for, despite our calculations the current was against us at over 5 knots. We passed many islands, some inhabited but most just wild. We were pleased to return to this anchorage which is very sheltered and has nice thick mud for anchoring in. It really is a lovely stretch of sheltered water.

Went ashore at the anchorage to find the Rockhopper penguins, and observed that Magellanic penguins also hop from rock to rock when they need to, but not so efficiently. Gin and tonics enjoyed in the cockpit in a warm evening, serenaded by the call of penguins.


Wed Feb 8 13:54 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 24.503s 060 26.986w
Run: 9.1nm (16.5km)

Anchored in Port Dunbar, north coast of West Falkland We had an easy, short passage from Carcass Island to Dunbar. We have no detailed chart of the Dunbar bay, so took it slowly, but grounded with the keel a couple of times, despite it being mid-tide. We ended up lifting the keel completely, a major advantage of Ithaka having a lifting keel and rudder. Once inside, we found another yacht hauled up beside a jetty.

Ashore, we introduced ourselves to the owners of Dunbar settlement, Hugo and Marie Paul, who are also the owners of the yacht. Over a cup of tea in their kitchen, we learnt they have sailed extensively in the south Atlantic, and Hugo had over-wintered in Antarctic in a 9m aluminum yacht many years ago. Later, Colin and I walked southwards across the Dunbar estate to Stevelly Bay to visit another Gentoo penguin colony, and spent a couple of hours watching these very comical creatures.

Back at the ranch we had a good look at Hugo's slipway and cradle he has built. Because it is a very narrow creek he decided to build a cradle for the yacht which rolls on rails sideways up the shore. The cradle with the yacht in it stops above a concrete pit which is usually full of seawater, but which he pumps out, so that he can lower the centreboard and remove it for maintenance. Very ingenious, the whole system saving him a 1500 mile trip to Uruguay to haul out and maintain the underwater parts of the boat.

We also learn about the 'eatability' of the wild geese and penguin eggs. The latter sounds cruel but apparently, if you remove the first egg, the penguin will lay an extra one to compensate.


Tue Feb 7 14:56 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 17.59623S 60 33.24245W

We walked to the north west point of Carcass Island, about 3 miles, on the hunt for elephant seals. No problem finding them as they are 4 metres long, a metre in diameter and continuously snort and snuffle. There were about 30 of them hauled out in a small cove, sleeping in the sun. Occasionally one would scoop up a finfull of sand and dust its back, presumably to cool down. We watched them for a couple of hours. They didn't move much. Sometimes two males would rear up and bare their teeth but no more. The babies didn't appear to have any mothers. We learnt later that they are weaned after 21 days and then they are on their own. They really aren't beautiful animals, and out of the water they appear very cumbersome. We didn't get too close though.

We walked back over the spine of the island - wonderful views to the Jasons in the North West.

This evening we dined ashore in the lodge. Fresh caught mullet from the fish traps, and a well stocked cheeseboard, all washed down with Chilean wine. The catering staff are Chilean. Rob, the owner is an islander and has lived here for 50 years.

The rain has come this evening, the first solid rain we have had for a couple of weeks. This is welcome as there is a drought here in the west, and there is a wild fire burning on Grand Jason. Apparently it is in the peat and also burning the tussock down the coast which is very bad news for the breeding penguins and albatross. A team is going out tomorrow to dig firebreaks and hopefully this rain will do the rest.


Mon Feb 6 13:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 17.636s 060 33.258w
Run: 6.8nm (12.3km)
Weather: 1

Anchored in Port Pattison, the settlement anchorage, Carcass Island Woke up to clear blue skies, so rowed ashore to climb the highest peak on West Point Island, Cliff Mountain, at 1211ft. We were rewarded with stunning views of the Jason islands to the north west, and the south coast and its offshore islands. We also spotted at least 10 whales, far below us. Later we called in to say farewell to Jackie and Alan, only to be invited in for lunch. Such is the generous nature of these island folk.

We'd love to have stayed longer at West Point, but the wind was in the right direction, so we hopped across the 8 mile strait to Carcass Island. Here there is a lodge, where a number of folk are staying with full board. Once ashore, we were immediately offered beer and wine as a welcome! Came across a lovely quote by John Muir, in a book about Carcass Island, which is belo "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."


Sun Feb 5 23:51 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 21.008s 060 40.994w
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

Still anchored at Settlement Harbour, Westpoint Island Windy night - 30 - 40 knots from South but the holding is good.

This morning we moved the boat back nearer to the settlement. Then went ashore to watch the little red Islander aircraft arrive to deliver Clive, the electrician, and Kevin, a friend of Alan and Jackie. The pilot landed the plane in about 50 metres and rolled to a halt next to the landrover. Within 2 minutes people and freight unloaded and the plane away again, Bosun, the dog, giving chase up the grass strip. Spent the day cleaning rust spots off the deck, courtesy of the barge we were moored alongside in Stanley. Then ashore in the evening to have dinner with Alan and Jackie, Clive and Kevin. Learnt more about island life, politics and history. Great night, late to bed the wind now down and the row back easy.


Sat Feb 4 13:39 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 21.093s 060 40.930w
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

Still anchored at Settlement Harbour, Westpoint Island Flat calm last night - great sleep! Spent today exploring the Westpoint Island, the higher parts in thick mist. It is lovely to be able to walk freely on the close cropped grass and rocks, a complete contrast to the lush thick forests of Patagonia and Isla de los Estados. We have learnt that in ancient geological times the Falklands were linked to the African continent rather than South America, hence the very different terrain and flora.

When we weren't walking we were sitting at the enormous farmhouse table in Alan and Jackie's warm kitchen talking, drinking tea and learning about life here now, and life in former times. Jackie was here during the 1982 conflict, a 15 year old schoolgirl. Her father evacuated their entire family from Stanley, intending to take them to Port Howard, which is on the western island, with the help of an uncle's boat. The boat used to take passengers across Falkland Sound, between Darwin and Port Howard. Unfortunately the Argentinean's had commandeered the boat so when the family arrived at Darwin they were not able to cross and had to stay in Goose Green, which is a settlement close by. Then the Argentinean's rounded them up and imprisoned them in the community hall with 120 others, until the British retook Goose Green 29 days later. They had only 2 toilets and no changes of clothes. At least they were safe.

We arrived back on Ithaka just in time to re anchor towards the southern end of the bay in preparation for the southerly gale which is forecast for tonight. Now we hear the wind building again.


Fri Feb 3 14:18 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 21.042s 060 41.039w
Run: 19.3nm (34.9km)

Anchored at Settlement Harbour, Westpoint Island The wind blew steadily all night at The Neck, playing tunes in the rig and disrupting sound sleep. We awoke to a typical Scottish haar blowing in from the ocean and bringing with it the calls of ten thousand birds. We rowed ashore, and walked again through the penguin rookeries. First the Gentoos, then the Kings and moving on up onto the grassy slopes, the Rockhoppers and the Magellanics. Life is hard for these guys and death is all around. The corpses and skeletons of many lie in the sandy gravel, testament perhaps to the last gale, or to parents who didn't make it back. The scavengers of death are all around too. Striated Caracaras, Turkey Vultures, and Giant Petrels strut through the rookeries, the penguins snapping at them if they get too close. We spent two hours watching nature's play unfold, our senses tuned into the sounds, sights and smells of life and death. May it continue unhindered by human kind.

Back on Ithaka it was time to go. We left with double reefed main ready for the forecast 30 knots. It was there briefly but died away quickly so we hoisted full plain sail and headed west to this sheltered natural harbour on Westpoint Island. We rowed ashore and met Alan and Jackie who are employed by the, now very old, owners to run the island farm. He was getting ready for the electrical engineer who is flying in tomorrow to fix the wind generator. Most inter island travel is by plane. These people do not seem to be mariners.

We walked across the island to the cliffs on the western side where we found another Rockhopper Penguin rookery and a large colony of Black Browed Albatross, all mixed up with each other. The chicks of both species are grey fluffballs. I thought it must be frustrating for the young penguins to watch their albatross mates stretch out their wings and take to the air, and to realise that their little wings are only made for swimming.


Thu Feb 2 13:48 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 18.573s 060 14.532w
Run: 8nm (14.5km)

Anchored at The Neck, Saunders Island The wind finally abated, and the sun was out! We had a lovely sail to this anchorage, through the protected waters provided by many islets and escorted, as ever, by a group of Comersons Dolphins, known locally and rather sadly, I think, because they are so beautiful, as puffing pigs.

What a sight met us as at The Neck! The anchorage is on the south side of a low lying isthmus with beautiful white sandy beaches to either side. It was like Bondi Beach on a hot, summer, local holiday. Thousands of penguins everywhere, stepping on each others toes, running after their mothers, preening, feeding the kids, scratching themselves, or just taking it easy. Gentoo, Magellanic, King and Rockhopper. On the grassy sloped rising up from the sea to the east, is a nesting site for Black Browed Albatross. The large, fluffy, grey chicks were sitting pretty on their cylindrical, one bird nests, and the parents were taking turns to soar the updraft on the long smooth hill, their 2.5 metre wings rigid in the evening breeze.

All in the space of a mile, and the inhabitants not the least bit concerned about our presence. What a very special place. It makes us feel so very privileged.


Tue Jan 31 20:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 21.814s 060 04.777w

Still at anchor in Sealer Cove, Saunders Island No movement today, not even ashore in the dinghy. After a pleasant dawn a trough moved across bringing 30 - 40 knot winds. The boat started yawing about and before we knew it the anchor alarm was screaming and we were heading out to sea, slowed only by the big ball of kelp which the anchor had collected as we dragged it across the sea bed. An hour later we were anchored again, this time with more chain. All seemed well until the tide went out and we found ourselves next to the wreck of a boat, long sunk, it's broken mast sticking menacingly out of the water about 20 metres away. Recovered all the chain again, cutting away the kelp as it came on board, and re-anchored in what is hopefully a better spot. The wind is still playing a mournful symphony in the rigging. Hoping we have finished anchoring for the night.


Mon Jan 30 15:51 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 21.814s 060 04.777w
Run: 26.5nm (48km)

At anchor in Sealer Cove, Saunders Island Yesterday we sailed around into the settlement anchorage of Pebble Island. We met the tenants, Dot and Alex, and had supper with them, learning about their way of life living "out at camp", and about Dot's experience of the Falkland war as a child.

Pebble Island was used by the Argentineans as one of their air bases, and during that time, they kept all the island's inhabitants locked up. It's where the SAS successfully raided and disabled 11 aircraft, effectively changing the course of the war. Parts of crashed planes still litter the island. It's also where, a few miles north of the island, Skyhawks sunk the British ship, Coventry, killing 19 men.

Today we moved a short distance to Saunders Island, via a lovely stretch of protected water. Here we met the island's owners, Susan and David. Apart from sheep farming, they explained, they receive a welcome extra income from cruise ships, as the island is home to the King, Southern Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni and Gentoo penguins, as well as many other birds and native plants. We're looking forward to spending time on the island, but are keeping an close eye on the weather, as the anchorage provides limited shelter.


Sat Jan 28 13:00 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 18.891s 059 28.278w
Run: 50.2nm (90.9km)

At anchor in Ship Harbour, East end of Pebble Island We came into this deep bay just after 4PM having sailed and motored for 12 hours from Salvador Waters. We had waited there for the winds to die down and expected to leave this afternoon for an overnight passage west. However, I woke at 0300 to the sound of silence and realised the forecast was a little miss-timed, so off we went. The passage was non descript, grey, little wind, big swells, and when we arrived here it all looked a little forlorn too. A big bay surrounded by low tussock, not a tree to be seen, and the wind and drizzle blowing in from the west.

However, an hour later the cloud front passed and the low evening sun illuminated our world. Subtle blues, greens, browns and greys under a big, big blue sky. The cries of thousands of birds; penguins wandering around on the beach, chatting in groups, some climbing off up the grassy sward to their burrows; giant petrels riding the updraft on the low hills to the east; steamer ducks leaving white wakes of spray as they "fly" across the water; the eyrie whistle of the oyster catcher, and a pair of dolphins cavorting around the boat. I sit in the cockpit drinking this glorious wildness. I feel very small and insignificant, a fly on nature's wall.


Thu Jan 26 13:21 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 28.304s 058 20.035w
Run: 26.8nm (48.5km)

At anchor in Foam Creek, Salvador Waters, East Falkland We left Stanley at 0600 after a very early morning Skype call with our grandson, Grayson, on his 5th birthday. I was hoping we would carry the SW winds all along the North coast of East Falkland but it wasn't to be and the wind swung into the west. This meant we would not make a safe harbour before nightfall so we decided to stop in Salvador waters, which is an enormous inlet which reches 2/3 of the way into the island. It has numerous anchorages and settlements around its shores. The landscape is low and described as tussock. There are no trees except where they have been planted around settlements. The whole area is sheep farming country and each settlement farms many thousands of acres. It reminds me of the big Australian farms. The wind blows uninhibited so "shelter" is a relative term and really refers to waves rather than wind.

We will watch the weather and decide when to head further west. Meanwhile it is nice being at anchor again and away from the dust and grit of the commercial wharf in Stanley.


Tue Jan 24 20:00 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 41.533s 057 49.199w

Alongside FIPAS pontoon, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.

We've been here in Stanley four days now and are enjoying the town, the people and, surprisingly, the weather. They say it's a windy place which is very true, they say it's a place where you can have four seasons in a day, also true, but what we have found is pleasantly warm winds, occasional showers but nothing compared to Patagonia, and a fair amount of sun. We have spent a lot of time in the seamans' mission which is just across the bridge from this wharf. The coffee is free, there are hot showers, the washing machines are industrial jobs which really do the business, and the internet, although time based and very expensive, does work consistently and skype calls have no echo.

Stanley itself is a delightful town. We have spent many hours in the excellent museum, went to Church yesterday in the Anglican Cathedral and have found our way into most of the pubs. The people are very friendly and everything, is so very English. Such a contrast to the South America only a few hundred miles away. This, of course, is a continuing point of concern, with Argentina still laying claim to these islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. We are learning a lot about the 1982 conflict which is still a very vivid memory for the people here. More on that later.

Today we have said goodbye to Beduin. She has sailed for the islands leaving us alone on the wharf. Gen decided to join Beduin for the remaining couple of weeks of her trip and she and Aleko are on a mission to see and photograph as many penguins as they can before her flight home. We are slightly more relaxed in our timescale (and about penguins) but will probably leave in the next day or so depending on the weather.


Sat Jan 21 2:09 2017 NZDT
GPS: 51 41.533s 057 49.199w
Run: 33.8nm (61.2km)

Alongside FIPAS pontoon, Port Stanley, Falklan Islands.

Arrived yesterday lunchtime to a sunny Port Stanley. Customs and immigration completed in record time. We walked along the coast into town, meeting smooth tarmac, red phone boxes, an anglical cathedral, pubs and a few mini supermarkets. We walked past modern houses with their gardens, some with decks and outside furniture. Had a pint in the Victory, and fish and chips in Tasty Treats. Apologies for not getting this sent last night, but I was overcame by....sleep.


Thu Jan 19 20:27 2017 NZDT
Speed:
5.7 knots
knts
GPS: 52 05.000s 058 17.800w
Run: 208.8nm (377.9km)
Avg: 7.6knts
24hr: 182.2nm
Weather: Wind NNW 15 knots. 1m swell. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1006,

On passage from Isla de los Estados to Falkland Islands.

Good progress in the fist 24 hours but then the wind went and we motored in some pleasant sun. Now the wind is back but in the north and we are hard on it beating up the east coast of the Falklands East Island. Hoping to arrive in Port Stanley at lunchtime.


Wed Jan 18 16:57 2017 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 knots
knts
GPS: 53 57.590s 062 14.090w
Run: 86.1nm (155.8km)
Avg: 3.3knts
24hr: 79.8nm
Weather: Wind SSW 22-25 knots. 1-1.5m swell. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1006,

On passage from Isla de los Estados to Falkland Islands.

We are on our way. The winds moderated last night and we lifted our anchor, and a few tons of kelp, at 0900. So far progress has been good and the sea has subsided slowly during the day.


Tue Jan 17 15:03 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 45.150s 063 53.050w

Still anchored in Puerto San Juan del Salvamento, Isla de los Estados We are still waiting on weather. Otters and seals intrigued by the paddle boards, coming up very close to investigate. It's now late evening and we have just had to re-anchor, having dragged in the very strong willywaws. Cocoa with rum and a slice of carrot cake to finish the day. Hopefully a quite night ahead.


Mon Jan 16 13:39 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 45.150s 063 53.050w

Still anchored in Puerto San Juan del Salvamento, Isla de los Estados We are waiting. Waiting for the wind to die down. We did some walking and found the cemetery from a long gone community. This bay was only inhabited for about 15 years in the late 1800s. It is interesting that it is the cemetery which prevails, there is no other sign that there was ever any human habitation. Someone must keep the forest at bay but there is no indication who this is.

Meanwhile the clouds are scudding eastwards up above us, and feeding williwaws from every direction making Ithaka dance to their tune. Not much rain today so we managed to wash some clothes in the stream, and while we there I washed my hair too, the water so cold it made my head ache. Nice when you stop though!


Sun Jan 15 14:00 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 45.150s 063 53.050w
Run: 6.8nm (12.3km)

Anchored in Puerto San Juan del Salvamento, Isla de los Estados Before leaving Puerto Cook, we hiked up one of the more achievable hills nearby. Walking here is like walking in deep snow on rough ground, the moss is so thick, and where there are trees, they are almost impenetrable. We are full of admiration for a Frenchman called Andree "Yul" Bronner who, in 1995, walked the length of this island over 2 months, with only a tent, a small fishing net, a bow and some arrows. Aside from the terrain, the wind and rain, and the perennial dampness must have increased the challenge significantly.

Bronner is also known for rebuilding a particularly attractive, octagonal lighthouse that had fallen into disrepair close to where we are now at anchor. It is known as the Faro del Fin del Mundo. He did it for the sheer pleasure of seeing it work again, as another lighthouse had been built in a more suitable place. Most people would think the reconstruction to be senseless, however when we visited the lighthouse this afternoon, we came to understand and appreciate why he undertook such an enterprise. Apart from being a lighthouse it also serves as a refuge for any traveller or mariner who finds himself without shelter, a sort of bothy. From the lighthouse log book the last visit was a month ago. While here, we have seen no other people or boats.


Sat Jan 14 13:27 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 46.472s 064 03.001w
Run: 14.2nm (25.7km)

Anchored in Puerto Cook, Isla de los Estados We moved about 12 miles east this morning to Puerto Cook. Captain Cook visited this bay on two occasions in Endeavour, first in 1769 on his way to Tahiti to observe the passage of Venus in front of the sun, and again in 1775 with Resolution and Adventure. It is understandable why he liked the place; well sheltered from the prevailing wind, deep with no shallows or rocks and broad enough to allow the ships to tack up to the anchorage. We walked across the narrow isthmus to Puerto Vancouver on the south of the island, very desolate, with the SW wind blowing straight from the antarctic. Back in Puerto Cook we came across a little cemetery with, perhaps 20 graves, all except two marked by rusting welded steel tube crosses. The larger wooden cross and a wrought iron enclosure probably belong to the soldiers who were stationed here, the simpler crosses, those of their prisoners. This was an Argentinean prison in the late 1800s when there were some 170 people in the community. As usual Ana and I cleaned the beach of plastic - 3 sackfuls. We will try to transport them to the Falklands. Throughout the last 4 years we have gathered similar quantities and sometimes more from every beach we have visited. Of course this is really just an indication of the worldwide oceanic plastic issue. What can be done? What can we do? We wrack our brains and continue collecting.


Fri Jan 13 15:03 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 46.863s 064 24.358w

Still anchored in Caleta Poppy, Puerto Hoppner, Isla de los Estados We're keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, and it seems there is not much of a weather window in the near future to head for the Falklands. This is the best anchorage on the island, so we decided to stay put. Aleko and Gen ventured out on the paddle boards to explore the basin further, but came back to the boats completely drenched from heavy rain. All 4 seasons can occur here in one hour!


Thu Jan 12 14:21 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 46.863s 064 24.358w

Still anchored in Caleta Poppy, Puerto Hoppner, Isla de los Estados Last night was very stormy, with heavy rain and strong winds whistling overhead, so we were all very pleased to be tucked up in bed in this secure anchorage. We woke up to see fresh snow on the mountains nearby, and decided this caleta warranted another day. With Aleko and Gen on paddleboards, and Colin and I in our small dinghy, we explored the shoreline and little rivers of this inner basin. New things we saw were a magnificent stag, and a rat, both introduced species. Later, Colin and I cleaned up a small bay where plastic rubbish had washed onto its shore. We have taken to do this, when we can, as a kind of thanks. We feel privileged to be in such a beautiful place. We also feel ashamed that man's rubbish can make such a long lasting mark on this landscape.


Wed Jan 11 12:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 46.863s 064 24.358w

Still anchored in Caleta Poppy, Puerto Hoppner, Isla de los Estados A rest day. After the push to get the boat maintained and parts repaired, the boat provisioned up, and permits obtained, this is our first day off for many days. Aleko decided his spare main sail is in better condition than the one he had been using since leaving Greece, so no rush with sewing today. We headed up one of the hills to admire the views, which were stunning. The island is made up of many dramatic mountains and ridges, and deep cut bays. The pilot book explains that the island is the extreme southern limit of the Andes cordillera, which then plunges into the Drake Passage waters, to reappear again in the Antarctic Peninsula. Apart from a small Argentinean navy station based in the next bay which we have yet to see, we seem to have the place to ourselves.

This inlet was first named Puerto Austin but later Captain Henry Foster gave it the name Puerto Hoppner, for what reason, we know not. Such are the random white man namings of places in this part of the world. However, the small and sheltered anchorage where we lie is named Caleta Poppy (as of today) after our cat who would really enjoy the wide variety of small birds that we find here. =^..^Our other cat, Isla, already has more islands named after her than is reasonable, but she particularly approves of Isla Hunter. =^_^


Tue Jan 10 13:30 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 46.863s 064 24.358w
Run: 63.2nm (114.4km)
Avg: 2.7knts
24hr: 65.9nm

Anchored in Puerto Hoppner, Isla de los Estados A significant day. We finally left the South American continent, which has given us so many wonderful experiences, and sailed full pelt across the Estrecho de le Maire to Estados (also know as the Staten Islands). With the wind behind us, and helped by the north going tide, Ithaka averaged 9 knots.

I'd been disappointed not to have done the Cape Horn rounding, but come to realise while staying in Puerto Williams and Ushuaia, that every man and his dog can do that these days in fast speed catamarans and cruise liners. Today it was more important for me seeing the most south eastern end of the continent, in the company of albatross, whales and penguins, and not another boat in sight, well, apart from Beduin. Beduin had a slightly slower crossing, sailing with just her jib, having blown out her mainsail in the strong, gusty winds yesterday. The sewing machine will be in use tomorrow.

So Ithaka and Beduin lie at anchor, in yet another amazing caleta. We are surrounded by many tall mountains. Puerto Hoppner consists of a wider, outer bay, and a smaller inner basin at its head. The entrance channel to the basin is very narrow and shallow, so we had to wait for high tide to enter it. Inside the basin are a number of wooded islets, perfectly enclosed.


Mon Jan 9 14:30 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 54.433s 065 58.787w
Run: 58.3nm (105.5km)

Anchored in Puerto Espana, Bahia Aguire We are poised to cross the Le Maire Strait. Arrived here 1930 after a long sail in very windy conditions but, until the last 3 miles, aft of the beam. Now hoping the wind will switch to the south west and decrease so that we can cross Le Maire tomorrow and get to Isla de los Estados before nightfall. The Le Maire strait is notorious for its rough water caused by the strong winds and the strong currents. The pilot talks of 10 metre standing waves if you get in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ana spent many hours, probably days, in Ushuaia, applying for, and chasing the permits for Estados and Malvinas We often wondered if we should not just go without them, but it does feel good to know that we comply with the Argentinean laws, even if we do not agree with them. It will be interesting to see if anyone ever asks for them.


Sun Jan 8 14:18 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 52.919s 067 26.713w
Run: 34.6nm (62.6km)

Anchored in a little bay half way through Paso Remolcador Guarani, North Side Isla Gable, Beagle Canal It is good to be on the move again and free of the noise and dust of Ushuaia. It was not an unpleasant town but very geared to the cruise ships which come there en route to Antarctica or the Fuegian channels, and to those people who are setting off on expeditions. So lots of tourist shops in the main street and shops selling outdoor gear. Prices at least as high as Britain.

We managed to do a lot of work on Ithaka during our stay. Gen serviced all seven winches, I stripped down and rebuilt the seawater cooling pump on the engine, we fitted a new Raymarine mast head wind sensor which our friends Robert and Armelle had hand carried from France. We also had a very sociable time with other boat crews.

Today we sailed east along the Beagle Channel, back past Puerto Williams and into a narrow pass to the North of Isla Gable. We found this little bay and anchored, then pulled ourselves into the shore with a rope around a tree. Beduin is just alongside.


Fri Jan 6 0:00 2017 NZDT
GPS: 54 48.833S 068 18.392W

Ithaka back on line after a New Year break. Happy New Year to you all. I am pleased to say that the authorities in Buenas Aires have issued us with a document allowing us to visit Islas Malvinas. This is largely thanks to Roxana, the President of the AFASyN Yacht Club here in Ushuaia, who has been relentlessly haranguing officialdom for the last week. Hopefully we will leave tomorrow and sail East down the Beagle Channel stopping at a few caletas before crossing the Le Maire Strait to Isla de los Estados (better known to you as Staten Island). Then on to the Malvinas (better known to most of you as the Falklands) when conditions permit. There will be very little internet contact for the next few months so I will attach a few more pictures to this update.


Ithaka from Beduin - Windy day in the Cockburn Channel
Ithaka - Cockburn Channel
Ithaka - Seno Pia Eastern Arm
A nice interlude in the Beagle Chanel
An OVNI party at the Micalvi, Puerto Williams
Gen, the winch wench
New Year Hat Show - Ushuaia
Skippers' meeting of minds! Ushuaia
Thu Dec 29 11:08 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 48.833S 068 18.392W
Run: 28.6nm (51.8km)

Up at 4am today and motored 25 miles west to Ushuaia, in company with 5 other boats. 3 of these were OVNIs all with French crews. The early start was required to take advantage of a brief lull in the incessant westerly winds. Sure enough, within an hour of us arriving the wind was howling again and continues. We spent the rest of the day checking into Argentina. They do not make it easy - three different offices and many forms, some in quadruplicate. We also started our application to visit the Falklands. We are told that approval could take up to 20 days! The Brit in me thinks this is all a farce. No one will be interested in the permit when we reach the Falklands, but, if we need to return to Argentina then there will be big problems and hefty fines. We are "sleeping on it". Meanwhile more and more people tell us how good the Falklands are.......


I will attach some more photos from the Chilean channels while I am on the internet.


Andean Peaks, on the way west from Puerto Natales
Early morning trip up a hill
Ithaka dwarfed by the ice front, Seno Pia
Barbecue,Caleta Olla, Beagle Channel
Beduin charging downwind - Aleko relaxing on the foredeck
Ithaka - into the mist.
Thu Dec 22 0:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 56.090S 067 37.120W
Run: 23.7nm (42.9km)

Arrived in Puerto Williams on Thursday 22nd December. We thought we had sent an update but now (27/12) I realise that it never went. Apologies to anyone who though we had fallen of the bottom of the planet. We have had an enjoyable Christmas here. There are about 15 boats here, a mixture of big charter boats such as Pelagic Australis and smaller privately owned yachts like ourselves. The yachts are almost exclusively made of metal, the exception being little Beduin. There are 6 OVNIs. We have never seen so many gathered together before. Most of the husband/wife crews are French. There are no other Briish yachts here. WE had a great party on Christmas eve with the crews from all over the world gathering in the very impressive sailing school opposite the Micalvi. The Micalvi is a early 1900s transporte ship which was purposely sunk here to make a breakwater, marina and clubhouse. It has seen many adventures start and finish and is the kick off point for the Antarctic Peninsular.


Christmas Day was a quieter affair with dinner on board Ithaka for the 3 of us plus Aleko from Beduin, and Jaques from Moana, our next door neighbour. Getting ready to sail west now to Ushuaia. We will be sad to leave Chile and the Chileans.


Caleta (hiding place) waiting for weather to enter Estrecho Magallanes
Ana and 35 yr old Helly Hansen waterproofs - still waterproof!
Grey day in Patagonia - Climbed the hill to check the weather outside
Glacier - Seno Pia Western Arm. A step to far for Icebreaker Ithaka.
Thu Dec 22 0:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 56.090S 067 37.120W

Arrived in Puerto Williams on Thursday 22nd December. We thought we had sent an update but now (27/12) I realise that it never went. Apologies to anyone who though we had fallen of the bottom of the planet. We have had an enjoyable Christmas here. There are about 15 boats here, a mixture of big charter boats such as Pelagic Australis and smaller privately owned yachts like ourselves. The yachts are almost exclusively made of metal, the exception being little Beduin. There are 6 OVNIs. We have never seen so many gathered together before. Most of the husband/wife crews are French. There are no other Briish yachts here. WE had a great party on Christmas eve with the crews from all over the world gathering in the very impressive sailing school opposite the Micalvi. The Micalvi is a early 1900s transporte ship which was purposely sunk here to make a breakwater, marina and clubhouse. It has seen many adventures start and finish and is the kick off point for the Antarctic Peninsular.

Christmas Day was a quieter affair with dinner on board Ithaka for the 3 of us plus Aleko from Beduin, and Jaques from Moana, our next door neighbour. Getting ready to sail west now to Ushuaia. We will be sad to leave Chile and the Chileans.


Wed Dec 21 13:48 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 54.818s 068 12.928w
Run: 37.4nm (67.7km)

Anchored in Caleta Victor Jara, Isla Navarino, Beagle Canal We are now tucked into a Chilian caleta just opposite Ushuaia, Argentina's hub in these parts. We can hear the occasional plane taking off or landing. Tomorrow we intend to sail 25 miles to Puerto Williams, and stay there for Christmas. We have mixed feelings coming back to civilisation. We're looking forward to contacting family and friends, and that is just about it. No cravings for particular foods. Feelings of dread about the world news we will inevitably catch up on. Colin and I had our last shower 6 weeks ago in Puerto Eden, and I do not feel any great wish or need for one. This is a great turn around, coming from a woman who loved her long, hot showers!


Tue Dec 20 13:27 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 56.435s 069 09.415w

Still anchored in Caleta Olla, Brazo Noroeste, Canal Beagle.

We decided to do one of the walks mentioned in the pilot book in this area, thinking it would probably take 3-4 hours. The walk was to follow a stream to a lake, and then onto the Holanda glacier. There was mention in the book that there were beavers in the area, which we were also interested to see. These beavers are the American/Canadian beaver which were introduced by the Argentinean navy, so they could be hunted for their fur. They adapted very well in their new environment, and in common with many introduced species, have multiplied uncontrollably. They have no natural predators and man does not seem as interested in their fur as he once was.

It soon became obvious that the beavers had developed the large approach area (Colin called it the Slough of Despond after Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress) into beaver mega city. Not put off, we continued, stumbling, falling, climbing out of holes, balancing on trees which have been cut down by the beavers, determined to see the glacier. It took us 8 hours for the return trip. Luckily we had taken a few small snacks with us. We did not get close to the glacier. Gen managed a brief swim in the lake, which was covered in large icebergs, and even climbed onto one iceberg, for the sheer fun of it. (Crazy, or what!). Aleko developed blisters, and ended up walking bare foot for most of the return walk. He did manage to see one beaver which came out to see what all the noise was about.

We thought it appropriate that the glacier is named after Holland. The Dutch and the beaver have a common interest in dam building and the modification of the hydrological systems of their environment. Beavers are not the soft, cuddly creatures we once thought them to be!


Mon Dec 19 13:09 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 56.435s 069 09.415w
Run: 449.6nm (813.8km)
Avg: 17.5knts
24hr: 419nm

Anchored in Caleta Olla, Brazo Noroeste, Canal Beagle.

We woke to find ice brash in the main Seno Pia area, pushed south by the wind. The blocks of ice take on unusual shapes as they melt, such as rabbits, swans, and even a full size bath! As we were leaving the area, we spotted an enormous male sea lion with his four wives and their large family by a steep sea wall, and also a colony of Imperial Cormarants, sitting on their nests with their young. We sailed down the Beagle Canal with the westerly wind behind us. It slowly increased in intensity, causing us to reduce the mainsail to the second, and then 3rd reef. We gratefully tucked into the shelter of this caleta, while the wind continued to blow in the canal. With the sun out, the still water in the caleta was a wonderful shade of green. Gen went for a brief (!) swim around the boat, Colin got a haircut on the beach, and we later had a BBQ on the beach with Aleko. We finished off the last of the vacuum packed meat, now 10 weeks old, which was definitely past it's best. We collected the plastic rubbish of the beach, which we will take to Puerto Williams, but left the sausages hoping a zorro colorado (Fuegian Fox) might be enticed onto the beach by their smell.


Sun Dec 18 11:24 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 446.358s 069 40.636w
Run: 459.1nm (831km)
Avg: 21.8knts
24hr: 522.2nm

Anchored in Caleta Norte, Western Arm, Seno Pia, Tierra del Fuego The rain stopped in the morning. We had a quick walk up the hill to see the view. Then got underway and went to the head of the western arm of Seno Pia. We were pleased and a little surprised that the ice allowed us to get up to the glacier face. Here two arms of the glacier meet as they tumble into the bay. The sun came out and, at last, we found the blue ice. The pilot calls it "shrieking blue". I think this was a bit over stated but it was a lovely deep turquoise. We enjoyed an hour or two there, photographs, videos, dinghy excursions, and the now mandatory Pisco Sour, today made with grapefruit juice as the limes have all gone. The pisco has all gone too so perhaps this was the last of our trips to glaciers. Some big ice falls caused a mini tsunami in the bay so we decided to leave and motor back down the sound to this little caleta.


Sat Dec 17 14:18 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 47.782s 069 37.772w
Run: 11.6nm (21km)

Anchored in Caleta Beaulieu, Seno Pia, Tierra del Fuego We stayed in Caleta Cinco Estrallas for 2 nights. Yesterday we hiked up the mountain to the NW of the caleta. The weather was good, even some sun, and we watched the condors soaring above the ridges, and occasionally also below us, sometimes under attack from the much smaller but more nimble skuas. We were joined in the caleta by a French yacht, an OVNI 365, slightly smaller and much newer than Ithaka, and crewed by a lovely couple from Brittany, Frank and Marlena. An Argentinian yacht also arrived and stayed for a very short night before heading on west in the good weather at 4.30 this morning.

Today we set off for Seno Pia. As we sailed past the eastern side of the entrance to Bahia Tres Brazos we came upon a dead whale on the beach. We swooped in to take a closer look. Hundreds of birds, mainly giant petrels but also our condors from yesterday, all having a great party. We were wondering how the condors survived as there are very few land mammals in Patagonia. Now we know! In Seno Pia we explored the glacier in the eastern bay of the eastern arm. There was less floating ice than in Seno Ventisquero so with keel and rudder up, we were able to take Ithaka very close to the towering ice face. The regular crash of small lumps of ice into the bay persuaded us to maintain a healthy distance from the fissured and overhanging face which at a guess was some 50 - 75 metres high. The ice was streaked with grey - bands of grit dragged off the mountain in the glaciers progress to the sea. Because of her draft, Aleko had anchored Beduin on the seaward side of the shallow bar, an ancient moraine, which crosses the entrance to the bay. He then paddled his way to the ice face on his paddle board, a braver man than me.

We have now retired to this caleta some 2 miles from the glacier. Its raining outside and we are content to hide here until the weather improves before we explore more of Seno Pia.


Thu Dec 15 14:39 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 56.686s 069 46.082w
Run: 10.2nm (18.5km)

Anchored in Caleta Cinco Estrellas, Bahia Tres Brazos, Isla Gordon In this game you sometimes have to take the hits. After yesterday's sublime beauty, today was one of hard knocks, thankfully all turning out well in the end, and only money and time required to fix things.

We left the safety of Caleta Alakush intent on another meeting with the glacier at the head of Seno Garibaldi. The GRIBS showed some wind coming our way, well actually 25-30 knots from the NW. But it was a beautiful morning, not the sun of yesterday but a pleasant breeze from the west. We entered Seno Garibaldi and started beating north, some 11 miles to go and the wind a brisk 20-25 knots. Double reefed main and 3 reefed yankee and we were very comfortable making 6.5 knots. Then the wind instrument went blank. I squinted at the masthead and could see the anemometer and vane complete with their mounting strut swinging around and not at all in the right orientation. I surmised the unit was swinging form its delicate electrical cable and would not stay there long. Time for a trip up the mast, but the wind had other ideas and chose this time to kick us in the teeth, we guessed (no instruments) at 40 knots. We furled the yankee and started the engine in the hope that we could reduce the motion and eke the last of the life from the electrical filaments. Ten minutes later, I am on deck, harness on and tied to the halyard, ready to climb. I look aloft - nothing there, the mast tip strangely naked.

Not much enthusiasm for beating into 40 knots, glacier or not. We turn and run, bare poles, 6.5 knots. Head back across the Beagle Channel aiming for this three-armed bay. The wind moderates briefly as we cross and we raise full sail. Five minutes later I take a glance behind, a smoke grey cloud obliterates the western view, the sea white-streaked black below it. We furl the yankee, but too late for the mainsail. We run before it praying that the mainsail can withstand the onslaught. Thankfully it does and we make the lee of a small headland in the entrance to the bay which gives us a couple of minutes to lower the sail.

No sails again and still scudding along amidst the white spume. The faithful Volvo comes to life and we claw our way into peace. The peace of a perfect caleta, a hiding place from the rage outside.


Wed Dec 14 15:36 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 53.991s 070 00.789w
Run: 15.9nm (28.8km)
Avg: 106knts
24hr: 2544nm

Anchored in Caleta Alakush, Paso Darwin, Isla Chair Arrived here late this evening after our exciting day visiting the glacier. Hopefully its a good anchorage for the wind is due to increase over night as another front moves in. Its nice to be in an anchorage with a Yamana indian name. So many of the names here are European. Alakush is Yamana for Steamer Duck.


Wed Dec 14 15:27 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 42.698s 070 14.450w
Run: 29.4nm (53.2km)

As close to the glacier as we can get! NE Arm of Seno Ventisquero Well this is where we had lunch. Hope you can see it on google earth.

I will try to describe the scene but I will undoubtedly not do it justice.

We are in a circular bay at the head of Seno Ventisquero, a sound stretching 12 miles north from the Brazo Noroeaste del Canal Beagle.

The bright sunlight is reflecting off the vast ice cap to our North which covers the Cordillera Darwin. A great tongue of ice is flowing down the mountain and into the bay along a 2-300 metre front, a wall of ice, blue, grey, white, dazzling in the sun. Above it the river of ice rises in giant steps up onto the cordillera. The bay is full of ice. We have spent an hour gently pushing our way through brash ice and bergy bits, listening to the crunch and judder as the aluminium hull pushes them aside. Ithaka, the ice-breaker in the lead, with Beduin in her slipstream a few metres astern minimising the risk of damage to delicate gel coat.

Now Beduin and Ithaka are rafted together in the middle of the bay, as close as we can get to the ice front. Aleko (from Beduin) is out on his paddle board exploring bergy bits, Gen is at the top of Ithaka's mast taking photos, Ana is shaking the Pisco Sour in a cocktail shaker (well actually a plastic water bottle), chilled with 1000 year old ice which I am breaking up with a hammer. Occasionally there is a crack and a roar like thunder as another enormous piece of this ancient glacier slips into the water. We toast each other with Pisco Sour. It is the best Pisco Sour we have ever tasted. Then there is hot soup and bread in the cockpit followed by thick black coffee.

We are quiet, drinking in the beauty and the majesty of this wild, wild place.

We drift, rotating gently in unison with the ice around us, a stately dance, driven by unseen currents from the blue-green depths. We are not in control. The currents take us, as they do the ice, inexorably towards the sea. When we are released, we continue south, hoisting sails to catch the cool breeze flowing down from the cordillera. Some of our ice partners accompany us for a time but they all slowly dissolve, returning whence they came, a thousand years ago.


Tue Dec 13 18:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 48.996s 070 57.258w

Caleta Emilita, N Coast of Canal O'Brien, Isla O'Brien Nice sail this morning, hard on the wind for the first couple of hours after leaving Isla del Medio. 20-25 knots from the south.....cold, with sunny periods and occasional snow showers. The light on the freshly snow-sprinkled mountains was beautiful, the wind and snow, biting into your face, made you feel really alive, and as we turned west into Canal O'Brien the wind softened as it went aft, and we toasted ourselves with cups of hot cocoa and fruit cake.

Ana and I hiked up the mountain behind the caleta this afternoon. Again the amazing light, and the snow and rain blowing in from the Southern Ocean. It reminded us of another mountain on remote St. Kilda, west of the Hebrides, where we first kissed, a long, long time ago......and I noticed she was wearing the same Helly Hansen waterproofs. They made 'em tough in those days.


Mon Dec 12 14:36 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 48.996s 070 57.258w
Run: 50.5nm (91.4km)

Pozo Isla del Medio, Canal Ballenero We have escaped from Caleta Brecknock. We woke this morning to rain but no noise of the wind. We cast off the 7 lines, lifted the two anchors and Ithaka and Beduin peeped out from the steep rock walls. Outside some williwaws punching down onto the sound but not too strong. Soon we had sails up and were slipping along at a respectable 5 knots. It was good to be under way again. We moved from Canal Brecknock into Canal Ballenero, surmising that this might mean"the Whalers' Channel". It rained on and off all day but nothing like the torrents we have survived in the last two days. With 45 miles under our belts we turned into this totally enclosed pool (Pozo means well) in the Middle island of a group called Islas del Medio. The access is via a 50 metre kelp lined channel 4 metres deep and perhaps 8 metres wide. We are now getting close to the glaciers. Exciting.


Sun Dec 11 11:36 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 15.970s 071 46.870w

Caleta Brecknock, Seno Ocasion, Tierra del Fuego Indoor day today, sheltering from the wind and rain. The floor boards have swollen from the very high humidity, so one job was to plane and then varnish their edges. No small feat in the small interior space of a boat. Also began making another batch of soft cheese from a type of fungus called Kefir. A mushroom that is magic! The fungus had been given to us by Aleko, who in turn had received it from another sailor. So many things are passed from one sailor to another - charts, live bread yeast, boat parts, books and of course, valuable advice about an area. The camaraderie of sailors is a wonderful thing.


Sat Dec 10 14:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 15.970s 071 46.870w

Caleta Brecknock, Seno Ocasion, Tierra del Fuego Waiting on weather here in Caleta Brecknock with the wind howling everywhere but here where we are so well sheltered. The Gribs show at least two days of 40 knots, plus gusts, so I think we will have another day here tomorrow. We spent yesterday evening and this morning repairing the spray hood, the plastic window of which was smashed yesterday by a wayward yankee sheet. Luckily we had some clear flexible plastic on board left over from our double glazing job in Puerto Montt. The sewing machine behaved impeccably and we now have the repaired spray hood re-installed.

Despite the rain and wind we had a lovely hike up the hill overlooking the caleta this afternoon. The scenery is awesome ( I don't use this word lightly). Sheer rock walls, lofty pinacles, Seno Ocasion stretching to the south, white crests everywhere and mini tornados rushing across the surface, occasional sunny flashes making everything sparkle. At a more macro level the little trees grow horizontally twisting around rocks for support. They are small, gnarled and misshapen by the wind but still manage to flower thus ensuring the next generation.


Fri Dec 9 14:45 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 15.970s 071 46.870w

Caleta Brecknock, Seno Ocasion, Tierra del Fuego An "interesting" day of sailing. Conditions ranged from 3 to 40 knots when making our way down the Cockburn Canal. During one squall as we rapidly furled the yankee, the madly flogging sheets hit the dodger shattering the clear plastic window. Meanwhile Beduin's mainsail tore from luff to leach just below the top batten and Aleko was out on the foredeck wrestling with his genoa also trying to reduce sail. All this happened in poor visibility and when a tug towing a tanker (ie with restricted mobility) was heading directly for us, a mile away.

All of us were relieved to reach this caleta, which is like something out of Lord of the Rings, towering mountains of lead coloured rock, very little vegetation and numerous waterfalls. We're expecting very strong winds over the next few days, so are anchored together with Beduin, and 6 lines to the shore. It's probably one of the best caletas in the area, so we should be fine. Today's highlight was spotting a Zorro Colorado (Fuegian red fox) snatch a baby chick from it's nest, just 30m away from the anchorage.

It's all happening here!


Thu Dec 8 13:33 2016 NZDT
GPS: 54 15.970s 071 46.870w
Run: 22.5nm (40.7km)

Caleta Cluedo, Isla Clarence,Seno Duntze Safe but slow progress this last two days in rather inclement weather. We set out from Caleta Murray yesterday (Tuesday) morning intending to pass south through Seno Pedro and Canal Acwalisnan into Canal Cockburn. There are three possible routes through to Cockburn from Estrecho Magallanes, the longest and most eastward is the "official" route, while the other two are shorter and not fully charted. We went for the middle one balancing distance with safety. The Armada (Chilean Navy) make the rules here but many of the rules are more appropriate for larger commercial craft so sometimes it is safer to follow the "non allowed" route as do most yachts.

As soon as we passed the entrance to Caleta Murray the wind piped up and we were soon motor sailing (mainly motor) into 30+ knots. We soon realised we were not going to get very far so turned right into a little bay where we found some shelter up against a rocky shore on the south side. Nice walk in the afternoon. Up a river and into the pristine moss laden forest full of deep holes, fallen and rotting trees all camouflaged under thousands of different species of moss sometimes 1/2 metre thick.

This morning we started again. The wind had moderated a little but the rain was continuous. As we went further into the sound there was more shelter from the mountains, stretching high into the clouds, on either side. We passed through the Angostura (Narrows) in Acwalisnan, against the current, just making way against 4 knots. Then out into a wider stretch where we started sailing again in a freeing wind, full of williwaws blasting down off the hills to the west. We are now tied to stout trees at the head of this caleta, the wind still moaning in the rigging, the heater making the saloon cosy, reading, planning, chatting. Not much interest in walking this afternoon!


Tue Dec 6 12:54 2016 NZDT
GPS: 53 56.771s 071 41.088w
Run: 34.6nm (62.6km)

Caleta Murray, Isla Clarence, Seno Pedro, Another smashing day. Blue skies, a brisk wind behind us, several sightings of Humpback whales and, the highlight, sightings of 3 Condors. The first sighting was of a pair, soaring closely together in unison.


Mon Dec 5 13:30 2016 NZDT
GPS: 53 36.815s 072 19.106w
Run: 15.8nm (28.6km)

Anchored in Bahia Mussel, Isla Carlos III, Estrecho de Magallanes.

Today has been one of those unforgettable days that we will remember for the rest of our lives. It drizzled lightly though the night but we emerged into a bright dawn and a light wind from the west. There were three boats moored side by side in the caleta, Beduin, a fishing boat and Ithaka. A surge of activity; ropes, anchors, dinghies, fenders, engines, windlasses, and then we were separated and all underway. Beduin and Ithaka blew South East through Paso Tortuoso which brought us to the junction with Canal Jeronimo where we saw tell-tale puffs of vapour. We rounded up onto a reach and soon came amongst three humpback whales feeding together with a multitude of birds; Penguins, Black Browed Albatross, Giant Petrels, too many to count, too many to identify. Then on, in the brightening sunshine and into this caleta at the head of a broad bay. In the afternoon we climbed a peak to the North of the anchorage and were rewarded with a stunning panorama, the Magellan Strait blue and sparkling, snow capped mountains to the North and South and Beduin and Ithaka in a deep red lagoon far below us. Out in the strait there were a thousand seabirds and the regular blows and occasional tail flukes of humpback whales. The churning, upwelling currents made ever changing grey-blue patterns in the smooth sea. The sun hot on our backs, wind virtually non-existent, and no sign of humans or signs that any had ever been in this place before us. A truly unspoilt wilderness.


Sun Dec 4 14:15 2016 NZDT
GPS: 53 31.389s 072 40.396w
Run: 73nm (132.1km)
Avg: 2.9knts
24hr: 69.8nm

Anchored in Caleta Campamento, Isla Spider, Estr. de Magallanes Sailed south eastwards with wind behind us for 15 miles to this caleta. No dramas. Met up again with Aleko of Beduin here. Enjoyed a good catch up over dinner, which included centolla (king crab) given to Aleko by fishermen.


Sat Dec 3 13:09 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 41.593s 073 45.784w
Run: 16.6nm (30km)

Still anchored in Caleta Playa Parda Chica on Isla Riesco, North side of Estrecho de Magallanes.

Waited here for a day today. The weather was supposed to be very windy but we are still waiting. Hopefully get going again tomorrow.

Saw a magnificent Ringed Kingfisher, about kukaburra size but splendid coloured plumage. Gen went stalking it in the dinghy and managed to get a picture of it eating a fish.


Fri Dec 2 14:21 2016 NZDT

Anchored in Caleta Playa Parda Chica on Isla Riesco, North side of Estrecho de Magallanes.

Early start (5am) to download the GRIBS (Weather Info). Dawn had just broken, raining and blowing. Even sheltered in amongst the trees the wind was whistling in the little bit of mast which was above them. However, apart from the rain, the wind was in the right direction and not forecast to go above 35 knots. We called the Faro Fairway Lighthouse some 10 miles away and they confirmed the weather situation and also told us the current conditions at Faro - only 18knots - "green light go".

We de-rigged our cat's cradle of mooring lines finding that they had accumulated lots of clingy green slimy weed, and set off. Hard on the wind for the first 15 miles into the Magellan Strait, we had 2 reefs in the main, and after the first 30 knot chubasco(squall), we furled the yankee and kept only the staysail forward of the mast.

This section of the Magellan Strait has much history. It is one of the windiest and wildest parts of Patagonia and is where Joshua Slocum and countless other navigators have waited for weeks for a favourable wind to allow them to sail West into the Pacific Ocean, or North up Canal Smyth. We looked astern into the West, into the grey, rain laden wind, at the grey white capped swell, and were thankful we were heading East.

The strait narrowed as we drove on in front of an increasing wind. Furled the mainsail shortly after lunch and continued under staysail alone for the rest of the day still making 7 knots.

Anchored and tied to the shore with three lines now. The wind has died and the sky seems to be brightening a little. Beduin has left us a message tied to a tree - he left here this morning so only one day ahead now. We should catch him again soon.


Thu Dec 1 13:39 2016 NZDT

Anchored in Puerto Profundo (Caleta Teikita), west coast of Canal Smyth, Isla Manuel Rodriguez We decided to stay put today, after examining the Grib and Armada weather forecasts for the next few days. It was a glorious day, so we washed clothes in the stream a few metres behind Ithaka, had lunch in the cockpit, and went for a lovely walk (well, it was lovely once we got past the bush bashing stage to get to higher ground). Spotted a pair of Rufous Chested Dotterels, a Green Backed Fire Crown Hummingbird, and 2 pairs of Magellanic Oystercatchers. Gen is keeping us right about our birds!!!


Wed Nov 30 13:12 2016 NZDT

Anchored in Puerto Profundo (Caleta Teikita), west coast of Canal Smyth, Isla Manuel Rodriguez We up'd anchor early this afternoon, after the rain had stopped, and moved a grand distance of 13nm south. It is supposed to be a good anchorage to wait for favourable winds to cross the Estrecho de Magallanes. This anchorage is enclosed, but is subject to gusts, so apart from the anchor, Colin attached four lines to the shore (two forward and two aft). We found another orange message flag from Aleko, who left the caleta three days ago, heading for a caleta in the Paso del Mar.

The attaching of lines sounds easier than it is. There are several challenges. The first is that the caleta is surrounded by rock walls some 3 - 5 meters high which rise sheer from the sea. Then there is the prolific vegetation which cascades down the rock walls, making it very difficult to find steps to climb them. The trees are up on top of the cliffs and are not all of the stout variety. Many are rotten or are disguised by the thick moss which covers everything. So, after an hour of cliff climbing, tree climbing, pruning, and abseiling, we are now very well fixed to four stoutish trees and are having a beer in the belief that we will not be moved by anything short of a hurricane. Let's hope so.


Tue Nov 29 13:06 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 28.651s 073 35.5000w
Run: 33.3nm (60.3km)

Anchored in Caleta Darde, east coast of Canal Smyth, Isla Hose Despite the williwaws at the anchorage, we decided to up anchor. Sure enough, once out in Canal Smyth the wind steadied to 15 to 20 knots on the aft beam , and with just the Yankee up, we cruised at a good pace, 20nm south. Six or seven Sei whales (we think) were spotted, in pairs or individually along the way.

This delightful caleta is completely enclosed. However, to our horror, there was another yacht in the anchorage! (Apart from sharing some anchorages with Beduin, we have had the place to ourselves.) When we arrived in the caleta, we found a sign, a small orange piece of cloth, hanging prominently on a tree near the shore, from Aleko of Beduin. It said he had left the caleta 5 days ago, and also suggested a walk in the area, which leads across to the other side of the island, which we then did. The walk gave fantastic views towards Estrecho de Magallanes, and a 360 degree view of the shores of this island. We think that, with the more peaceful anchorage and the exercise, we will all sleep well tonight.


Mon Nov 28 14:45 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 09.480s 073 .018w

Still anchored in Bahia Mallet, East coast of Canal Smyth "Snow" day today. Strong wind and rain put us off moving from this anchorage. Once rain stopped in the late afternoon, we ventured ashore, and decided to walk to view the isthmus. The 100 metre pass was once used by the Indians to portage their canoes from Seno Union to Canal Smyth, saving many miles of canoeing. We observed that the wind in Seno Union was blowing one way, and in Canal Smyth, the opposite direction! Here in this caleta the wind is coming from all directions, and the two anchors and 3 lines ashore are all, at some time, working to hold Ithaka in place.

Ashore, we marvelled at the different plants and mosses. Trees are more stunted and twisted than in the north. Chilean Skuas, Steamer ducks, Austral Blackbirds and Thorn-tailed Rayaditos spotted. Gen is very much helping us with identifying these birds!


Sun Nov 27 14:48 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 09.480s 073 .018w
Run: 17.2nm (31.1km)

Anchored in Bahia Mallet, East coast of Canal Smyth Exceptionally quiet night last night but a long day today. Quiet start motoring down the west side of Isla Diego Portales through magnificent scenery in warm sunshine. Then through the narrow channels into Seno Union. Here we met the wind and started beating to the North West finally arriving at Canal Smyth at 1800 and then running south to this inlet. As we approached in what had become 30 knots from the NW, we were joined by dolphins and leaping fur seals who escorted us to the anchorage. We have put out two anchors and 3 ropes to the shore as we are expecting some windy weather over the next few days.


Sat Nov 26 13:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 51 54.655s 073 02.892w
Run: 25.5nm (46.2km)

Anchored in Caleta Mousse, Canal Santa Maria We spent yesterday on the boat, sewing mainly and other jobs. The weather was grey but not raining and the wind gusty, swinging the boat around on her anchor. In the late afternoon we received a text from Gen saying she would be in Puerto Natales at 1700. We had already agreed she would spend the night ashore as the 1 mile return dinghy ride across the strait would not be safe or enjoyable.

Up bright and early this morning and greeted by blue sky and sun. We moved the boat to an anchorage just off the fish dock, launched the dinghy and rowed ashore to find Gen just appearing round the corner. It was great to see her. What a long trip she has had from Aberdeen. Then a busy morning; check out with the Armada, shopping for food, recharging phones, more money from ATM, etc etc. Three dinghy trips to Ithaka still bobbing away in the bright sunshine. Then we were off again, heading South West into the SW breeze with some motor assist. At 1800 we passed through the Angostura White north of Isla Diego Portales into Canal Santa Maria. Brilliant scenery, mountains, snow, wooded slopes, bare rock and the churning waters and whirlpools of a the 4-6 knot current which passes through the Angostura (Spanish for Narrows). Gen has already taken several hundred photos and its only day 1. In Caleta Mousse we are anchored and have three lines ashore, totally sheltered.

Good day. The only downside, I forgot to buy the carrots. I am already looking forward to carrots more than anything else in the world!


Wed Nov 23 13:59 2016 NZDT
GPS: 51 43.702S 072 31.777W
Run: 0.8nm (1.4km)

Anchored in Puerto Laforest, opposite Puerto Natales.


Busy day. Rowed ashore, walked to ferry and crossed to Puerto Natales. Visited the Armada, who stamped all our documents and photocopied them many times. Then booked a delivery of fuel to the fish pier for tomorrow at 0900, hopefully before the wind gets too strong. We had lunch in a restaurant on Plaza de Armas, the town square, before taking a bus to Argentina. This was necessary as we needed to get new 90 day visitor permits for Chile. The process was farcical. We visited Argentina for 2 minutes, checking in at one window, then walking 3 paces left and checking out again. The surprise was the long distance between the Chilean and Argentinian border controls, about a 3km strip of no-mans-land which, luckily we did not have to walk because the good, christian people of Chile and Argentina stopped and gave us lifts. Back in Chile and Puerto Natales, the weather was fine, very fine. 25 degrees celsius! We and everyone else were amazed. There were people swimming in the sea, bathing in the fountains, and there was a run on ice creams. Weidled away an hour or two, missed the ferry back across the strait and had to employ a fisherman to give us a lift. Always quick to take an opportunity, the Chilean fisherman charged us 30000pesos, about 30GBP. Great day! So nice to be warm again.


Bathing in the fountain in Plaza de Armas, P. Natales.
Wed Nov 23 12:36 2016 NZDT
GPS: 51 43S 72 31.57728W
Run: 0.8nm (1.4km)

Tue Nov 22 14:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 51 43.713s 072 31.778w
Run: 54.4nm (98.5km)

Anchored in Puerto Laforest, opposite Puerto Natales We were up at 5.30 to catch the right side of the tide to go through the last section of Angostura Kirke. Apparently the tidal stream can reach of maximum of 8 to 10 knots, one of the strongest currents in Chile. We had a 2 knot current going with us, when suddenly a 35 knot wind squall funneled down through the strait, making Ithaka do 10.5 knots. Then, just round the corner, the wind dropped completely and we had to motor for a while.

Angostura Kirke lies right on the border between the Cordillera de los Andes and the transition zone of semi-arid pampa. The west side of the narrows is typical of Patagonian channels, with high mountains and rainfalls. Because the Cordillera peaks provide a barrier to the clouds, the east side has a low rainfall, and there are plains.

As we approached Puerto Natales, we caught sight of a 4 x 4 truck driving fast along a dirt, flat road throwing clouds of dust behind it. Such a contrast of all we have experienced in the past few weeks.

Plan to go ashore tomorrow.

PS Apologies for an error I made yesterday. Lucas has pointed out that the university in La Plata is in Argentina, not Chile. It seems that both Argentina and Chile suffered from oppressive military regimes during 1970 to 1990, causing many thousands of people to "disappear".


Mon Nov 21 12:48 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 00.182s 073 43.440w

Anchored in Caleta Desaparecidos, WNW of Angostura Kirke Today we woke to silence and sunshine! After 5 fronts passing over the last 4 weeks, we were beginning to forget what sunshine looked like! The cloud level had also risen, exposing imposing,snow capped mountains in the near distance. Picture postcard stuff. We had the wind behind us for most of the day. Again spotted otters, this time sleeping on their backs, not the least disturbed by our presence. This is (finally) the life! Now anchored in this caleta, named after the 30,000 people who "disappeared" in the Chilean military ruling between 1976-82. Apparently a whole generation of students were exterminated in the university town of La Plata. The caleta is in a tiny bay, surrounded by woodland, and at the entrance we can observe occasionally little fishing boats going by in the Angostura (narrows) which links Puerto Natales with the sea. It's an appropriate memorial to those people.

Aiming to be in Puerto Natales tomorrow. The big smoke.


Sun Nov 20 12:15 2016 NZDT
GPS: 52 00.182s 073 43.440w
Run: 50nm (90.5km)

Anchored in Caleta Victoria, Isla Hunter.

Well the gale continued yesterday so we stayed put in Puerto Mayne, most of the time down below out of the rain.

Today dawned fine, well relatively so. We had a great sail down Canal Sarmiento, then a dogleg through Canal Farquhar into Estrecho Collingwood. The names of these straits, caletas and points are amazing, memorialising (if that's a word) the discovery of Patagonia by Europeans over many, many years.

Now we are tucked up in Caleta Victoria on Isla Hunter, a few metres from Beduin. Tomorrow will be the parting of our ways, Beduin heading on south down Canal Smythe towards Puerto Williams, and Ithaka taking the detour East through Seno Union, towards Puerto Natales. So tonight we will celebrate with Aleko, the safe and enjoyable trip so far, and wish each other fair winds. We hope to meet again further down the track


Fri Nov 18 13:09 2016 NZDT
GPS: 51 18.845s 074 05.000w
Run: 50nm (90.5km)

Anchored in Puerto Mayne, Isla Evans, Canel Sarmiento Today Beduin and Ithaka barrelled along with a fresh NW wind behind us. The wind steadily increased, to the point Beduin was carrying just a headsail, and Ithaka a reefed mainsail, and we were going like the clappers, ie 9-10 knots! Rather pleased and relieved to arrive at the anchorage.

Despite the pilot book saying this anchorage offers good, all round shelter, we found bursts of wind still funnelled down from the surrounding mountains. Two attempts were made to anchor, what with the squalls, the small cove, and rocky ledges to each side. Getting the ropes ashore was fun and games too. But now we are secure, Beduin and Ithaka tied together, with 2 anchors, loads of chain, and 4 shore lines. Let the gale continue!


Thu Nov 17 14:27 2016 NZDT
GPS: 50 39.160s 074 33.000w
Run: 38nm (68.8km)

Anchored in Caleta Paroquet, Isla Chatham, East coast of Canal Inocentes Dawn. Not raining. Northerly wind. Yes! Untied, up-anchored, up-sailed in glorious anticipation.

It started slowly, then filled in from the North West. Full sail squared away, Yankee poled out and off we went. As easy as that. By lunchtime we had left Canal Concepcion and entered Canal Inocentes. Auto pilot on. Sitting in the cockpit in the warm sun. Beduin half a mile away bowling along. This is what sailing is all about. Arrived here, 40 miles later, in this very sheltered and beautiful caleta at 1730. We were met by Steamer Ducks who fly on the water, faster than swimming but not as fast as flying. Dosn't look too elegant either. Joshua Slocum was met by them too in 1895. "The steamboat duck, so called because it propels itself over the sea with its wings, and resembles a miniature side-wheel steamer in its motion, was sometimes seen scurrying out of danger. It never flies, but, hitting the water instead of the air with its wings, it moves faster than a rowboat or canoe."


Wed Nov 16 12:42 2016 NZDT
GPS: 50 06.632s 074 41.839w
Run: 26.6nm (48.1km)

Anchored in Caleta Neruda, Isla Topar, at junctions of Canal Wide, Trinidad and Concepcion This morning we lit a candle for Alan, as it was his funeral today. Our thoughts were with Moira and his family. It was a token, but important, gesture for us.

Coming out into the cockpit we noticed fresh snow had fallen in the night. The snow level is lower on all the mountains. At sea level it was still raining as we set off into shifty wind from the north, and not much of it. Lots of tacking, gybing, poling the yankee, but little progress. On came the motor until we came to the point where Canal Wide points SW. Then came the wind. Straight on the nose at 20 knots, gusting quite a bit more when the squalls hit. We double reefed the main and yankee, and spent the rest of the day beating to windward through heavy rain showers. Chilly sailing.

This Caleta is supposed to be perfect shelter from all directions. However there seems to be a bit of SW swell getting in. We've put the anchor out with loads of chain and hauled ourselves into the east side with a couple of ropes to some handy trees which gives us as much shelter as possible. Should be good. North wind promised tomorrow which should be good too.


Tue Nov 15 12:54 2016 NZDT
GPS: 49 45.616s 074 26.864w
Run: 112.9nm (204.3km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 113.4nm

Anchored in Caleta Nassibal, Seno Antrim Last night it rained. This morning it rained as we raised anchor and sails. At lunchtime we were sailing with the squally winds behind us, through narrow straights with sheer rock walls stretching up to mountains which disappeared into the clouds. Coming out of the clouds and down the mountains were a thousand waterfalls, glistening white against the brown-green foliage. Occasionally we would pass their final crescendo as they burst down the rock into the strait. At lunchtime it rained. We passed penguins fishing and excited terns swooping overhead. And still it rained. We anchored in 12 metres in the centre of a tiny bay, then reversed into a narrow cut paying out 60 metres of chain. We passed our floating warps to Aleko on his paddle board, who had arrived in Beduin a few minutes earlier, and he paddled to the rock sides of the cut and tied bowlines around trees. We tensioned the lines - all still, quiet, sheltered and secure - and still it rained.

Down below now, replete with macaroni cheese, the eberspacher heater making the saloon cosy and snug, 2 candles burning low on the table, the smell of cake baking in the oven. But in the background, outside in the big wide world, it rains.


Mon Nov 14 13:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 48 07.653s 074 24.760w

Still anchored in Puerto Eden Yet another frontal system came through last night, with strong wind and rain. Out in Gulfo de Penas, gusts of 60-80 knots were forecast.

We've had some time to explore this little village. It has a population of 120 men and 40 women during the summer, and a lot less in the winter. A long boardwalk runs along the shore, connecting every house, the school and police station. They use boardwalks instead of paths to protect the delicate, soggy, moss covered land which would be a mud bath otherwise. There are 3 little shops where there is a very limited choice of 'survival' foodstuffs. You press the doorbell, and the owner opens up the shop. Today a ferry, which makes the run between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales twice a week, stopped to deliver fresh food and special orders. A flurry of activity occurred, as lots of little boats went out to the ferry anchored in the bay. These boats are painted yellow and red, and all fly the Chilean flag. It had just stopped raining, and the sun was shining, so it was quite a cheerful sight.

We have the luxury of internet here, so were able to catch up with our daughters by skype. We also received the news of Alan Gerrard's passing. Alan was our neighbour's dad and has been looking after our garden while we are away. We will miss him a lot.

This is an amazing adventure which we feel priviledged to be undertaking, but we do miss the immediate contact with family and friends. We are a long way from home.


Sat Nov 12 14:54 2016 NZDT
GPS: 48 07.653s 074 24.760w
Run: 16.1nm (29.1km)

Anchored in Puerto Eden We unofficially changed the name of Caleta Point Ley, where we were anchored last night, to Caleta Leonard Cohen, after we received the sad news of his death this morning. The enclosed caleta has sides of virgin trees, tree ferns and moss, a tumbling waterfall and tame birds and otters. I hope he'd approve.

It's been a long day of motor sailing in light winds. The tops of the nearby mountains have heavy snow, and there has been no sign of man for miles. This evening we arrived in Puerto Eden, which is said to be the wettest and most remote town in the world. It is only accessed by sea. No cars, no planes. It's strange to be back in civilisation again.


Fri Nov 11 15:18 2016 NZDT
GPS: 48 20.315s 074 33.490w
Run: 36.5nm (66.1km)

Anchored in Caleta Point Lay Good days sailing today after a "snow day" yesterday in Caleta Lamento de Indio. It rained solidly all yesterday and we amused ourselves, Ana baking and I, repairing the Chilean flag and checking the engine. Today it was overcast but generally fine and Ithaka and Beduin had another private regatta sailing south through Canal Messier, finishing within seconds of each other at the entrance to this caleta. We were greeted by two otters tumbling over each other and small white and black birds flitting across the water feeding on the flying insects.

Unfortunately the news of the madness of humanity has reached even this point of isolation on the surface of the planet and we too are ruminating on the likely fallout that 4 years of President Trump will bring.

Stupid White Man indeed.


Wed Nov 9 11:42 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 48.822s 074 38.578w
Run: 101nm (182.8km)
Avg: 4.4knts
24hr: 105.9nm

Anchored in Caleta Lamento del Indio (Puerto Inti-Illimani) Another perfectly sheltered Caleta, Beduin and Ithaka moored to trees side by side. We have just come back from the beach where we have eaten like kings, celebrating completing our crossing of the Golfo de Penas. We have eaten half of the large fish (wahoo) that Aleko caught this morning, and he is threatening fish soup tomorrow.

The crossing of the Golfo de Penas went well. We had westerlies which made for fast reaching sometimes made more exciting by the regular squalls. All well on board and looking forward to an early night.


Tue Nov 8 12:48 2016 NZDT
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 46 33.661s 075 45.089w
Run: 54.6nm (98.8km)
Weather: Wind W 12 knots. 3 - 4m swell. Sky 80% cloud. Baro 1025,

On passage across Golfo de Penas, to Isla San Pedro .

On passage again. Currently heading south with Cabo Gallegos abeam. So far it has been a much smoother day than yesterday. The wind has been reasonbly constant from the west with a few squalls. The Pacific Swell is still here but we have gone further offshore and the the waves are further apart.

Enjoyed a very quiet night last night in Caleta Pico Paico. Aleko on Beduin, ten metres to port, had a more disturbed night because a couple of otters were having a party on his deck!


Mon Nov 7 14:21 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 58.202s 074 59.505w
Run: 24.9nm (45.1km)

Anchored in Seno Pico-Paico (or Fondeadero Skyring). Well the wind has certainly decreased, a little further than we would have liked. Shame about the Pacific swell which remains - Muy Gruesa (Very Rough) said the forecast and it was correct. We left Caleta Millabu at crack of dawn having had a very difficult time getting the crew on her feet. Lovely dawn, beautiful light on the islands in Bajia Anna Pink. Initially the sea was flat and the light wind pushed us along steadily. However the wind became fitful, the waves became gruesome, and we struggled to make progress, resorting to the Volvo for long periods. At about 1300 the electronics started alarming and then died completely. This was more disconcerting than a problem but the one thing we would need going into any anchorage was a depth sounder. I didn't fancy using the lead line (we do have one) in more than about 5 metres. Luckily Beduin was to hand so we followed him into this gorgeous completely enclosed lagoon and we are now both anchored in 20 metres with our sterns some 5 metres from the thickly forested shore, a stream running conveniently close by, and birds twittering in the forest.

I traced the electronics fault to flooding of the instrument pod on the binnacle, annoying as we bought it new not 2 years ago in NZ. One piece of electronics kit (the Raymarine RF Base Station for those who know about such things)had spent some time siting in the puddle and chose today to finally burn itself up, blowing the overall instrument fuse at the same time. Luckily we can manage without this piece of electrickery and we now have instruments working again.

Just enjoyed freshly baked Pizza, some Chilean Carmenere and the company of Aleko of Beduin, for dinner.


Sun Nov 6 13:30 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 44.067s 074 36.093w
Run: 8.3nm (15km)

Anchored in Caleta Millabu on the island of Clemente. The wind reduced and the rain stopped this morning, so we decided to head for this anchorage, our agreed rendevous with Beduin. We had a few squalls to contend with, but nothing like we have had over the past week. We arrived at the 2 mile long inlet, which is deep sided, with bare rock, scrub and waterfalls. A complete contrast to the temperate rain forested cove of this morning. There was no sign of Beduin. However, only when we reached the head of the inlet did we spot her and Aleko, tucked in to one side, very close to the shore. We heard later he had had a much worse time of it than us over the past 5 days at this anchorage, with sudden wind shifts, williwaws, having a dragging fishing boat alongside, and even a mini tornado! It was great to go ashore, having been cooped up on the boat for 9 days. The three of us walked/scrambled up along the side of a fast flowing waterfall for two hours, and admired the views, the different flora, birds, and stripy frogs. We filled some water containers from a small stream near the boat, and discovered the remains of a number of crabs legs. Put two and two together, to conclude it must be a picnic place for otters.


Sat Nov 5 12:15 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 48.715s 074 28.162w

Still here in Caleta Saudade. Still raining. Receiving some lovely emails, which cheers us up no end.


Fri Nov 4 13:27 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 48.715s 074 28.162w

Still anchored in Caleta Saudade. We've had squally weather and really heavy rain, so we are very pleased to have the protection this snug cove. Ithaka lies with each side of her 7m away from the shore and in 4m of water. We are 7 miles from an anchorage on the south side of Isla Clemente and to the open water of Bahia Anna Pink. We agreed a week ago when we last parted company with Aleko, the single handed sailor, to meet at this anchorage. The aim is to make our way south together, across the infamous Gulfo de Penas, which has been having winds of 40-80 knots this week. At 4pm the storm abated, and we were tempted to make a break for it to join Aleko, but we both agreed it would be foolhardy to set off this late in the day. From the Grib and Chile Armada weather reports, it seems we may be here for at least another day, maybe more. In the meantime, one job is leading to another....


Thu Nov 3 14:30 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 48.715s 074 28.162w
Run: 25.3nm (45.8km)

Challenging sailing today. Post-frontal, with winds ranging from 0-38 knots, most of it right on the nose. Lots of tacking was required in the narrow bays and channels. We're now in a tiny cove, Caleta Saudade which is reported to be, in the pilot guide, hurricane-proof with an anchor and 2 ropes. Half way through dinner we noticed the stern swing violently to one side due to a wind gust, so Colin has secured yet another 2 ropes to the shore. A front is due tomorrow, so we may just stay put. Now understand why there are so many waterfalls...because it rains ALOT!


Wed Nov 2 12:42 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 43.830s 073 57.469w
Run: 58.8nm (106.4km)
Avg: 2.6knts
24hr: 63nm

A real mixed bag of sailing again today. Calm patches, sudden very strong gusts, and the wind shifting 180 degrees with very little warning. I think we reefed and de-reefed the mainsail 4 times. I was thinking of the good old times in the Pacific when we were on the same tack for 4 days or more! We are now in the land of hanging valleys and waterfalls. Apart from the odd salmon farm, there is no sign of man.

Tonight, we are in Caleta Jacqueline, a perfect anchorage, giving 360 degree protection. It's beaches and surrounding dense forest are pristine. We dropped the anchor, reversed into a small cove and used 2 ropes to tie the stern to an existing rope left by fishermen. At the head of the cove about 40 metres away is a white roaring waterfall. Colin went ashore to wash his hair in the free, cold, fresh water. I did mine in the kitchen sink with hot water from the engine-heated calorifier. Another front due tonight, the light rain has started but all we hear outside is the waterfall.


Tue Nov 1 14:18 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 27.450s 072 48.429w

Hooray, hooray. At last we have escaped from Chacabuco and Seno Aysen and we are anchored in Caleta Santiago.

The day has not been without drama. A sleepless night as yet another front passed through. Then some doubts about departing because of the horrendous gusts which kept bombarding us in the anchorage. We had decided we must leave. We couldn't spend another day here looking at the same patch of shore. Not even a particularly pretty patch. The forecast was quite good but not reflected in the reality.

The safe anchorage at Chacabuco has a tidal entrance and even we, with lifting keel and rudder have to take care. We left at 1100, half tide and rising, following our inward track on the I-Pad. Bang! the keel hit bottom, Bang! The rudder too. Not enough care taken! The keel rode up because I had freed the hydraulics. The rudder however, was a different matter as its hydraulics were locked. A good safety feature in the OVNI is a bursting disc in the hydraulic systems for each of the rudder and the centreboard. This works like a fuse protecting the rest of the system. It burst with a pop and a hiss and the rudder rode up over the sandbank we had hit. So no harm done...we hope. We motored gingerly back to the anchorage, re-anchored, and I replaced the bursting disc. An hour later we set off again, very slowly, very carefully. Chacabuco's parting remark was a hail storm. We motored into it the hail stinging our faces.

Not a nice sail down Seno Aysen. Wind on the nose for the first ten miles, sometimes only 10 knots and then 30 knots a minute later. We found headsails and engine to be the best combination. Then, amazingly, the wind went aft and we scooted out of the fjord in great style. But it didn't last. Back on the nose again for the last 6 miles.

Glad to be here. Glad not to be in Chacabuco. Glad of the heater which is warming the cabin very nicely. Good night.


Sun Oct 30 12:42 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 27.450s 072 48.429w

Still anchored in Ensenada Baja, Chacabuco. We are now getting used to more typical Patagonian weather with fronts passing approximately every 24 hours. The wind howls and we get heavy rain for a few hours, then, as the front passes, glimpses of blue sky amongst heavy clouds which come with big rain squalls and wind up in the 30+ knots. The frequency of the squalls decreases and then all goes quiet for a while before it all starts again. The boat cavorts about her anchor occasionally healing quite dramatically.

Yesterday we dropped Janet, my sister, ashore and she started her 4 day journey back to Cornwall. Hopefully she will be in Santiago by now and basking in the summer sun. Meanwhile we set off, beating into very little wind and hoping to get to the end of Seno Aysen before dusk. But it was not to be. The front came in and we realised that we would not make the next caleta before nightfall so reluctantly headed back to this very secure anchorage. This morning we deployed a second anchor as we had dragged a little in the strong squalls, and then settled down to boat jobs and catching up on the communications, as we have very good internet here. We will see what tomorrow brings but not hopeful of much progress to the west with the current forecast.


Thu Oct 27 12:18 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 27.450s 072 48.429w
Run: 40.3nm (72.9km)

Anchored in Ensenada Baja, Chacabuco. The front with much rain passed overnight. The yellow fishing boat kept dragging his anchor in the strong gusts and finally came to rest alongside Ithaka at 0300. Not much said and luckily his outboard started on the 15th pull and he headed off up wind again. This was the front's final gasp and then all went quiet. Next thing we knew it was broad daylight and the blue sky had returned. We sailed 25 miles inland up Seno Aysen, a broad fjord with high snow covered mountains on either side, reminiscent of Norway and Fjordland in NZ. Now anchored in a broad and totally enclosed lagoon. Went ashore to check in with the Armada(The Chilean Navy monitor every boat that moves) and the girls took a bus into the bustling town of Aysen. They have just returned with plans for a shopping trip tomorrow.


Wed Oct 26 10:51 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 09.525s 073 31.182w

Anchored in Caleta Gato towards the western end of Seno Aysen. Overcast dawn and Aleko, on Beduin, said that we were due for rain later in the day. HOwever we had a good northerly wind so both boats cast off their moorings from the rocks, up anchored and hoisted white sails. Headed south, into Canal Ferronave here we said our farewells to Beduin. He headed south and we pointed east into Seno Aysen. We found the recommended thermal springs where the water bubbles out of the ground at 50 degrees C. Unfortunately there is no close anchorage, the water close by being over 100 metres deep, and although I did offer to heave-to and wait on the boat while the ladies rowed ashore for an open air turkish bath, they declined the offer. It was, by this time, gusting up to 25 knots and raining fairly heavily so I guess I could understand their reluctance to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So we headed to this very sheltered caleta, hopefully to have a quiet night and let the rain pass by.


Tue Oct 25 12:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 09.525s 073 31.182w

Still anchored in Caleta La Poza, Puerto Aguirre. Landlubbering. Trainers on, and off we set to explore by foot the triangular island (roughly 3 miles each side) of Las Huichas, which has three small towns and a population of 1,800. Just at our landing place is a small national park reserve, with labels on some of the native trees and shrubs. We noted Magellan and Darwin seem to feature in many names.

The towns are connected by a narrow, lock block road, and beside the road is a bicycle lane! There are several smart looking view points with shelter huts and ....bike racks(!). Disappointingly, we saw no one was using a bicycle. It reminded me of the past, happy, EU days of spend, spend, spend! Lots of boat repairs were being made on the shoreline, and some folk were tending their veg. garden. We were surprised by how advanced the gardens were for this time of the year. Slowly the day got hotter and hotter, and we began to roast. Parched, we sought a shop to buy a drink, however all shops, including restaurants, were shut for lunch. Obviously the locals take their 2 hour lunch break very seriously. Returning to the boat, Colin decided to have a swim around Ithaka. He didn't dawdle.


Mon Oct 24 13:30 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 09.525s 073 31.182w
Run: 22.4nm (40.5km)

Anchored in Caleta La Poza, Puerto Aguirre. Another great day's sailing. Left Caleta Canal at 0930, a flat calm, sun lit dawn, imperial cormorants breaking the silence as they struggle to reach take-off speed, a pair of colourful ducks slipping silently along the rocky shore. We recovered the shore lines, hauled in 90m of chain, set main and yankee and drifted out of the caleta. Soon picked up a northerly . Would it last? A cup of tea later it was still on. Up went the spinnaker, and up it stayed for the next 4 hours. We arrived at Puerto Aguirre mid afternoon, anchored of the rocks in quiet Caleta La Poza and reversed in setting the stern lines to trees on the shore. A walk ashore hoping for a small hostelry to quench our thirst. Many hostelries......, all closed. We finally found one with an explanatory sign which, roughly translated, said, "closed today because of the local elections". Elections are held on Sundays here and the sale of alcohol is banned on election days. We found an open mini supermarket and, because we had a backpack which would hide our illicit purchase, the owner agreed to sell us a six pack of Escudos. We returned to the boat, and together with Aleko from Beduin, toasted another wonderful day in the Chilean channels.


Sun Oct 23 13:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 44 51.87s 073 42.59w
Run: 16.7nm (30.2km)

Anchored in Caleta Canal on Isla Canal. Big regatta day to-day. 2 entries. Beduin and Ithaka. (David and Goliath). It was nip and tuck all the way from Estero Arboles Espectrales after a le mans-start with both boats raising their anchors and departing under sail. Ithaka got the edge leaving the Caleta as Beduin had to stop to collect his crab pot (complete with crab). Then the 15 knot southerly came and both boats were going well. Ithaka had the edge again but then Beduin hoisted his monstrous genoa and started to claw back. Then it all went light. Drifting. Ithaka tacked off onto port heading for a patch of wind to the right. Beduin continued to drift shorewards and had to resort to the emergency engine to get clear of the rocks. The southerly 15 knots come back and an hour later both boats were within spitting distance. Ithaka cocked up the tack getting running backstays, staysail sheets and yankee sheets all muddled up. Beduin crossed on starboard. Ithaka coudn't match the Nich 32s pointing ability and had to tack off the shore. Beduin sailed on found a lift and soon was a speck on the sunny horizon. Ithaka retired with grace, started the engine and both boats anchored in beautiful Caleta Canal. Crab, freshly baked bread and Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. Great Day!


Sat Oct 22 12:42 2016 NZDT
GPS: 44 39.54s 073 53.23w
Run: 23.1nm (41.8km)

Anchored in Estero Arboles Espectrales, on Isla Benjamin. Ana here, again. Cloudy day, with the wind shifting to the west. Some motoring and mostly sailing (even for a short time with the spinnaker up!). Spotted a number of pelican colonies and one group of seals making a big racket. Best bit of the day for me was when Janet and I rowed in the dinghy up the small creek at the head of the inlet, which is navigable at high water. Prestine, dense forest with a number of plants and 2 bird types neither of us have seen before.


Fri Oct 21 13:21 2016 NZDT
GPS: 44 20.093s 073 46.329w
Run: 31.2nm (56.5km)

Anchored in Caleta Valverde. Ana here. We have had a big high sitting over us for the past two days, so the gentle winds, flat seas and the sunshine have made sailing ideal. And always the majestic snow capped Andes range in view to the east of us. Divine.

Yesterday we tied up to a fisherman's rope in a very peaceful, little anchorage, and spent the day exploring the coast on foot. No human habitation for miles. Had a wash in a small, shallow stream which was warmed by the sun, surrounded by silence, apart for the occasional bird call or frog croak. I vote it my favorite bathroom.

One significant pleasure of cruising is meeting other sailors and locals. Over the past few days we have been in company of another yacht, a 1964 Nicholson 32, owned by Aleko, a shy, single handed Greek sailor. Despite her age, the boat has graceful lines, and Aleko sails her with great skill. He spent the last 7 months (over the winter) sailing north through Patagonia, and now he plans to sail southwards and return home to Greece. He has taught us how to make soft cheese, salted tuna marinade, and a crab trap.

Janet, Colin's sister, has been great company,and her sewing skills have been very much appreciated, mending and fixing things from the jobs box. Bread and carrot cake made today.


Wed Oct 19 2:39 2016 NZDT
GPS: 43 53.051s 073 45.051w
Run: 52.7nm (95.4km)

Anchored in Melinka. Crossed the Golfo Corcovado overnight last night in light headwinds. Very pleasant sail with a full moon but cold - hats, gloves, long johns, full waterproofs. Porridge for breakfast warmed us up. Janet and Ana now catching up on their sleep. We will visit the town and then move onto a quieter caleta (anchorage) this afternoon. We enjoyed the island of Chiloe, its lush green fields, wooded hills, quiet inlets and many places to buy fruit and veg. The wooden houses and churches are works of art in their own ways. We did not enjoy the many, many salmonera (salmon farms)which fill all the inlets and even extend out into the straights between the islands, and the associated plastic rubbish which adorns every beach. Fish farming seems to be the right thing to do as there is no , in my mind, that the wild fish are being fished to extinction and the oceans turned into deserts. However, in the Chiloe area it seems to be too intensive. Earlier this year 28000 tonnes of fish died, and were subsequently dumped in the sea causing further environmental pollution, because of the warmer than usual water (el nino). Worse still, these are operated by foreign rather than Chilean companies who are benefiting from what seems to be a very poorly regulated industry From now on we are expecting harsher scenery and harsher weather. The snow covered Andes are always just to our east and the SE wind is blowing straight from them this morning. Yesterday I bought a typical knitted chilean hat with ear flaps. I've been wearing it ever since!


Sun Oct 16 14:06 2016 NZDT
GPS: 43 07.623s 073 38.094w
Run: 7.2nm (13km)

Anchored in SW Corner of Quellon Anchorage away from the hustle and bustle of the fishing port. Left Estero Huildad at first light to try to beat the tide but unsuccessful. Spring tides and a cold 25 knot from the south made for some intersting waves on the approach to Quellon. Ashore in Quellon this afternoon to check in with the Armada (Chilean Navy) We have to do this daily by e mail and in person when we arrive in a port which has an Armada office. Stocked up with provisions. The meat, veg and fruit here are fantastic. We will not see their like again in South America. Wind died away now leaving a blood red sunset. Hoping for a quiet night.


Sat Oct 15 11:27 2016 NZDT
GPS: 43 04.219s 073 30.917w
Run: 15.3nm (27.7km)

Anchored in Estero Huildad just north of Perto Quellon on Isla Chiloe. Short sail today, well, mainly a motor as the wind was fitful. Explored the little settlement in Pailad this morning before we left. A school, a large Gymnasium, a beautiful wooden church but no people. It was rather like the Marie Celeste. Lots of birds though including black necked swans with cygnets. The island is largely forested here reminding us very much of the New Zealand bush.


Fri Oct 14 13:36 2016 NZDT
GPS: 42 51.426s 073 36.002w
Run: 41.3nm (74.8km)

Anchored in Estero Pailad, a most beautiful creek on the Island of Chiloe. Sailed here today from Anihue Island where we had weathered a gale yesterday. Great sail with cold squally winds from the west mainly 20 kts but up to 30 occasionally. Enjoyed tacking up the straight between Chiloe and Isla Tranqui in the company of Aleko, on a Nicholson 32, Beduin, a single hander who we met in Puerto Montt and who is heading back to Europe via the Beagle Channel.


Mon Oct 10 14:42 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 42 18.783s 073 15.891w
Run: 58nm (105km)
Weather: Wind calm. 0.0m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1019.

Anchored in Mechuque Island 50 miles south of Puerto Montt. We left Puerto Montt at 0900 this morning. Light breeze from the North made for slow progress and we motored much of the way. However the sunny weather was good and we were able to re aquaint ourselves with the boat and life on the sea. Good to have finally got away from the yard and marina, although we enjoyed our time there, and met many new friends, mainly on their way to French Polynesia and further west.


Sat Oct 8 11:10 2016 NZDT
GPS: 41 29.94900S 72 59.31200W

Ana and Colin back in Chile after a few months with family and friend in Scotland. Ithaka now in the water in Reloncavi Marina at Puerto Montt. Weather alternating between dreich drizzle and low cloud and bright spring days with warm sunshine. We have been joined by Colin's sister Janet who will be sailing with us for a few weeks. Planning to leave tomorrow or Sunday and start heading south.


Tue May 31 14:53 2016 NZST
GPS: 41 29.94900S 72 59.31200W

Colin and Ana now back in Chile. Spent an amazing time in Peru. 5 day Salkantay trek through stunning scenery ending up at Machu Picchu, truly a wonder of the world. We wonder what the Inka Civilisation would have achieved had the Spanish not wiped it out in the 1500s. Then on to glistening Arequipa, it's elegant colonial buildings built from Sillar stone and shining in the sunshine. We spent three days in the Colca Canyon, 1100metres down and very hard on the ageing knees. However, we seem to be able to keep pace with our twenty something year old companions so feel quite pleased with ourselves. Now in Arika at sea level again and good to smell the Pacific salt air. We fly to Santiago on Wednesday and on to Edinburgh on Thursday. Looking forward to family, friends, haggis, whisky and the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU.


Fri May 13 14:27 2016 NZST
GPS: 41 29.94900S 72 59.31200W

Colin and Ana now in Puna, Peru, on the shores of lake Titikaka. Moving to Cusco tomorrow. Spent 4 days in the Bolivian, Amazon, jungle. So beautiful. Went looking for big cats and found monkeys. Biked the Death Road, 3500m descent from cold mountains to steamy jungle. Ithaka well in Puerto Montt. Ciao. C and A.


Thu Apr 28 9:23 2016 NZST
GPS: 41 29.94900S 072 59.31200W

Colin and Ana now in Bolivia. Spent several days exploring the Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt flat in the world. Amazing. Now enjoying genteel, colonial Sucre, the one time capital of Bolivia, before descending into the Amazon jungle in a few days time. No news about Ithaka so assuming she is wellin Puerto Montt.


Tue Mar 22 2:03 2016 NZDT
GPS: 41 29.949S 072 59.312W
Run: 22.4nm (40.5km)

Puerto Montt. We are on the hard and slowly working away at putting Ithaka to bed for 6 months. Plenty of socialising with several other cruising boats who have been in the south and are either laying their boats up for the winter or heading on northwest to Easter Island and Polynesia. PM is a busy industrial town, lots of ships and boats. There are three marina but only this one, Reloncavi, has a travel lift. Several of the other yachts are Aluminium so Ithakafeels at home in their company. Many of the cruisers are French. Westerly Serenade is here afloat but uninhabited as Frankhas returned to Australia. We didn't meet him but will do so when we return in September. Weather is cool and sometimes windy but when the sun does emerge it can still be very pleasant.


Sun Mar 13 13:36 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 41 49.001s 073 04.547w
Run: 33.4nm (60.5km)
Weather: Wind from the south 1 knot. 0.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1018.

Anchored in Estero Chope, on Isla Puluqui, about 20 nm from Puerto Montt.

This morning while leaving Caleta Juan Pedro we had a rapidly falling 7m tide, so very cautiously felt our way out via the narrow, shallow channel, into open water. It was a relief to be in deep water once again. A blue sky, a gentle breeze and a flat sea, made wonderful conditions for flying the spinnaker for most of the day. Still getting used to seeing the stunning, snow capped Andes range in the distance.


Fri Mar 11 9:59 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 42 17.872s 073 08.139w
Run: 28.7nm (51.9km)
Weather: Wind S 5-10 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1019.

Anchored in Caleta Juan Pedro, Isla Buta Chaques. The weather continues. No wind in the morning meaning a n hour or so of engine, watermaking and charging. Then a light southerly picking up to 12-15 knts towards mid afternoon. Just arrived at another sheltered anchorage. One whale sighted today, Blue we think.


Thu Mar 10 12:56 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 42 37.017s 073 29.840w
Run: 13.4nm (24.3km)
Weather: Wind SE 0-1 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1019.

Anchored in Estero Pundo off Los Angeles..., Yes that's correct, Los Angeles. This one has a population of a few hundred and is the only town on Isla Quehui. Went for a row ashore to buy bread and ended up buying grapes and a large jar of homemade jam as well. Then a walk up the hill to be greeted by a fantastic view of snow covered Andes to the east and the setting sun in the west. Another fantastic clear blue autumn day.


Mon Mar 7 12:15 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 42 34.675s 073 45.353w
Run: 44.6nm (80.7km)
Weather: Wind SE 10-15 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1018.

Moored up in a very small marina called Marina Quinched. Have come here in easy day sails via Mechuque, a lovely little island with a pretty village, where there are boatbuilders building the traditional wooden fishing boats. We had a Curanto, the local dish, consisting of Mussels, Chicken, pork, sausages, potatoes and a couple of dumplings with different fillings, all cooked in a pit in the ground filled with hot rocks. Just the same as everywhere else we've been in the Pacific! Then we moved on to Dalcahue, a bigger town on the main island of Chiloe, bustling with fishing boats, Chilean tourists and even another yacht. We visited the beautiful wooden church. These churches are a speciality of this area. Very big and built completely with chiseled joints, many variations of dovetail, and no nails. They are clad in cedar shingles. We had an uncomfortable night in the strong current and 5 metre tide, had to re anchor at 3 am so not that much sleep. Should be OK tonight though, nicely tied to the dock.


Fri Mar 4 2:29 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 41 57.370s 073 31.450w
Run: 14.4nm (26.1km)
Weather: Wind SE 5 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 90% cloud. Baro 1021.

At anchor in Bahia Linao, East Lagoon. Perfect shelter, only accessible at half to high tide. Main bay is full of salmon and oyster farms - not sure whether these are a good thing or not but they do not improve the scenery. We were met by a pod of 6 very large whales as we entered this bay the day before yesterday. Not sure of type - maybe Blue. One came quite close and was definitely wider and longer than Ithaka. It's blow hole was about a foot in diameter. Went for a walk along the shore and then along a very dusty road into the village of Linao. A lot of plastic on the beach and several discarded boats. Plastic flowers adorn every grave in the cemetry. Moving on south today. Would return here, only for the peace and shelter of the east lagoon.


Wed Mar 2 11:17 2016 NZDT
Speed:
5.6 knots
knts
GPS: 41 46.524s 073 39.715w
Run: 14.5nm (26.2km)
Weather: Wind SE 5 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 0% cloud. Baro 1020. Vis. Very Good.

Motoring east through Chanel de Chacou between the mainland and Isla Grande de Chiloe. A very light cool southeasterly head wind, brilliant autumn sunshine, seals, sealions, squadrons of pelicans, the odd lone dolphin leaping high. Brightly painted wooden fishing boats, compressors chugging, surface supply diving the banks for shellfish. Slack water now but only for minutes, soon we will be tearing along at 10 knots into Golfo de Ancud. And best of all this morning, the cloud on the eastern horizon firming into snow covered mountains, the Andes, still far away but beginning to dominate the eastern skyline.

We spent yesterday and last night anchored off the town of Ancud. We liked it. Bustling, colourful, not touristy. People getting their supplies in after the weekend. This is the main town on Chiloe. We managed to buy and load 120 litres of diesel onto Ithaka. A jerrycan job and lots of rowing backwards and forwards in the dinghy. Met a girl from Fiji on walkabout, feeling guilty she was not with her family in cyclone torn Lautoka. We wondered how our Fijian friends fared in Fulaga. (any update from anyone?). We woke this morning to the wash of the fishing boats leaving port, and the smell of woodsmoke hanging in the bay.

Rowed ashore this morning to check out with the Armada (Chilean Navy). You have to report in at every port and present your paperwork. They produce a Zarpe, an authorisation for you to proceed along the "agreed route". You have to give your ETA at the next port and radio in, or e mail your position twice per day. We find it all quite demanding and so different from the other side of the Pacific. We will have to get used to it. We were pulled up by a white capped, young rating yesterday, some would say correctly, for not using lifejackets in the dinghy.

We hope to seek out a quiet anchorage a few miles south of the north eastern tip of Chiloe later this afternoon, as there is unlikely to be any sailable wind, the downside of the current high pressure dominated weather.


Mon Feb 29 3:17 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 41 52.085s 073 54.890w
Run: 143.1nm (259km)
Weather: Wind S 10 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1028

Ithaka is on the move again, this time with just Colin and Ana on board and feeling rather quiet. We left Marina la Estancilla, Valdivia, on Friday morning and caught the last of the ebb down the river and out of Bahia Corral. As forecast, there was little wind all through Friday and we motor-sailed along the coast south in warm sunshine. A front came through during Friday night bringing the northerlies (and unfortunately the rain and squalls) we needed to blow us down to the entrance to Canal de Chacao. We slowed down off the entrance to allow the rain to clear and the vis to improve, then turned south to Bahia de Ancud. We hoped to anchor off the town of Ancud but as we turned into the bay we met a 1m chop and 25 - 30 knots so continued west to find more shelter finally anchoring here 3 miles from the town. We had a peaceful night. Now going to see if we can remember how to blow up the dinghy and row ashore. The last time we did this was in New Caledonia a few lifetimes ago!


Sun Feb 7 15:04 2016 NZDT
GPS: 39 50.900S 073 19.000W
Run: 4.8nm (8.7km)

Sailed up the river yesterday and now moored up in Marina la Estancilla. Customs, Armada and Immigration completed but still waiting for Health and Biosecuity. This is a small Marina, non profit making and part of the Valdivia Yacht Club. It is in a beautiful wooded stretch of the river, very quiet and peaceful. Free showers and laundry. We are catching up with the rest of the world, skyping and e mailing, the long passage beginning to recede into memory. Lucas departs for Buenos Aires and his family tomorrow, a 36 hour trip by bus across the continent.


Team Ithaka - Auckland to Valdivia
Team Ithaka - Auckland to Valdivia
Sat Feb 6 3:58 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 39 53.427s 073 23.311w
Run: 91.5nm (165.6km)
Avg: 3.8knts
24hr: 91.9nm
Weather: Wind SW 5 knots. 0.0m waves. Sky 5% cloud. Baro 1017

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Day 43 Arrival The wind was cool and the waves short and steep as we closed on the coast. Soon we could distinguish Punta Gatera, until then only a waypoint on the chart plotter. The wind moderated and we shook out reefs and unfurled the yankee, reaching into the lee of the headland and slowly releasing ourselves from the ocean's rhythm. Tree clad hills, occasional buildings, a man fishing with a long pole from a wooden boat, short mast, triangular white sail. Many, many birds, petrels swooping diving, others sitting in flocks on the surface. And then a roaring bellow just behind us. Lucas and I looked back to see a huge grey back, rise gently and then an eruption of steam as a great whale breached. This was a big whale, longer than us. We couldn't identify the type but felt privileged to have received his welcome.

We rounded Punta Gonzalo and entered Bahia Corral, a large sheltered stretch of water. Now there were other birds welcoming us, scores of pelicans, some flying in lines intent on their destination, another flock diving for fish. Shags, penguins, gulls and a baby sealion cavorting in our wake. What a change from the barren ocean of a few hours before.

We found a small sheltered bay, downed the sails, and drifted while we extricated the main anchor from its ocean stowage in the fore cabin and hoisted it onto the deck, then attached it to the chain and recovered it onto the bow roller, ready now for use. Then continued motoring, past a beach filled with the colour, chatter, sun umbrellas, and clamour of summer holiday, past a pier with ice cream shop, a ferryboat teeming with people, and into the lee of Isla Mansera. The depth came down and down and we turned into the light breeze and dropped the anchor in 2.2 metres, the centreboard actually touching the sand, making our first physical connection with Chile.

Lunch in the cockpit, the table flat and steady, the beer cool and level, watching and listening to the local chatter 100 metres away on the shore. Families walking, kids diving and swimming, a chainsaw, a digger, the sounds very distinct and so different to the those of the ocean.

Then a long afternoon siesta. A sleep. A long, long sleep.

We awoke as the stars were appearing, the silence, deafening. A celebratory meal, the last of the vacuum packed venison. Champagne, and many toasts to all of you who have supported and helped us. A bottle of Chilean Wine. +A game of chess, mistakes, rather than strategy driving the outcome.

Tomorrow, we will head up the river to Valdivia, marinas, customs and immigration, internet, phones, laundry and showers, ATMs, passwords, but tonight we enjoy the quiet and peace, a long ocean passage well completed.

John Masefield says it all, I quote the last verse of Sea Fever but you need to read the lot: I must go down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life.

To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife; And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.


Fri Feb 5 4:04 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.8 knots
knts
GPS: 40 18.500s 075 01.800w
Run: 174.5nm (315.8km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 169nm
Weather: Wind SW 19 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1029

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Day 42 "Land Ahoy!" I heard through dreams and sleep. I struggled out of twisted duvet and to the companion way dressed only in underpants! Met Lucas, in similar attire, coming from the other cabin.

On deck the wind was cold, indeed bracing on bare flesh. Ithaka was also modestly attired, double reefed main and staysail, corkscrewing through the quartering sea, the wind whistling in the rig, the waves and spray sluicing the deck.

We looked to the east and watched the rising sun pick out, above the waves and spume, distant hills, hints of green instead of grey, a new dawn, a new country, a new continent.

We smiled at each other, not too many words, each feeling the satisfaction of a job nearly done, the recognition of an end, and the uncertainty and excitement of a new beginning.

The Wandering Albatross quartered the ocean in our wake. An aerial sign-off? A handover to his distant cousin, the Condor, soaring on the Andesian currents to the east? I thanked him for his watch and our safe delivery.

Earlier this morning I had our last radio sched with Taupo Maritime and Northland Radios, and with Graham and Dianne on Maunie. They too have watched over us and lived this passage, day by day, with us.

A fishing boat, the first we have seen since leaving Cape Colville, rolled its way towards us, took in the scene and moved on south, VALDIVIA in large letters on her stern. No words, no greeting, but our presence acknowledged, another watch started.

Colin


Thu Feb 4 3:17 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.8 knots
knts
GPS: 40 24.500s 078 20.400w
Run: 170.2nm (308.1km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 164.9nm
Weather: Wind SW 19 knots. 2.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1019

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Day 41 So what do I think about when hand steering for 3 hours from midnight, in the pitch dark, with only the 3 illuminated digital navigational dials to keep me company? I like to imagine visiting family and friends. In my mind's eye I visit them, perhaps in their home, or where ever it is I know them well. I can sometimes smell the place or even hear the sounds of their surroundings. I like to sit down beside them. Make sure their OK. I bring three small bags for them, containing peace, happiness and love. I wonder if they ever know I have been there, or find these bags. Ana


Wed Feb 3 2:31 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 knots
knts
GPS: 40 01.100s 081 31.500w
Run: 311.7nm (564.2km)
Avg: 14knts
24hr: 335.2nm
Weather: Wind WSW 20 knots. 1.5m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1016.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Colin here again. Perhaps there'll be a squall.

Woke up from a deep sleep to hear Ana chatting with Graham on the radio, time 0130. Lay in my bunk half listening to the conversation and the other half listening and feeling the motion of the boat. It feels "boisterous", the boat leaping off each wave and often rounding up with creaks and groans, then falling back onto course under persuasion from the windpilot. Bruce's forecast, I seem to remember, was for 18 to 23 knots with gusts to 25. I begin to think a 2nd reef in the main would be prudent. Ana finishes her radio sched and confirms that the wind has been building and at times hitting 27 knots, and she has already reduced the goosewinged yankee (headsail) to 40%. Boat plunging along at 8 knots. 2nd reef it is then, even if only to redress the balance between main and headsail.

I get geared up. Full Musto foul weather gear, Dubarry boots, and Peter Blake red socks, lifejacket and harness, headtorch, knife. At companionway clip on, out into cockpit, prepare all the control lines, Ana out too, clipped on. Transfer Yankee from pole on windward side to leeside. Go aft and adjust windpilot to sail at 45 degrees to the wind, Ithaka dutifully rounds up. Ana releases vang, and lowers main halyard while I clip onto jackstays which run the length of the boat and make my way to the mast. Boat rolling in cross seas now. Double clip myself onto shroud. 2nd reef cringle within reach, grab it and hook it on to bull horn at forward end of boom. Ana starts to winch in reefing pennant. It goes tight but dosn't look quite right. She leaves it and hauls the halyard tight again anyway. I transfer myself across the boat to the port side by way of a cross jackstay, using two carabinas so always clipped on. Ana pulls the mainsheet in and I investigate the problem. The reefing pennant has caught up on the back of the sail. Ana releases the tension and I stand up, rolling with the boat, to reach the muddle at the end of the boom and sort it out. All good, Ana re-tensions the reefing pennant. Back in the cockpit, mainsheet out and vang on. Return windpilot to its pre-reef setting, Ithaka bears away and settles on her downwind course. Transfer the yankee from the port side back onto the pole and release the full sail from the furler. Cockpit now resembles a pot of spaghetti. Tidy up, looking forward to a nice cup of tea. Go below to put kettle on. Time 0300.

Boat remarkably quiet. No rushing noises. No rounding up. Check the windspeed. 10 knots!!. Boatspeed, less than 5!...........

Need to take a reef out of the main then, maybe both................. Have a cup of tea first, perhaps there'll be a squall.

Just in case you think we are on some luxury pleasure cruise!


Tue Feb 2 4:12 2016 NZDT
Speed:
5.5 knots
knts
GPS: 39 24.200s 084 200w
Run: 99.7nm (180.5km)
Avg: 3.6knts
24hr: 85.5nm
Weather: Wind NW 11 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1018. Occasional drizzle.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Colin here! Wow, what a busy Sunday. It started at midnight when I came on watch. We were trickling along at about 4 knots in the right direction which was nice after the frustrating calms of the day before.

Looked up to see the most amazing sky, just full of stars, and realised that, with the impending low pressure, this would probably be the last opportunity to use sextant to interact with them. It's one thing to see these heavenly bodies, it becomes more personal when you learn their names, but when you use them, measure their altitudes, bring their sparkling forms down to the horizon, stars which are millions of light years away, then the enormity of the universe and the connectivity of everything within it, becomes very, very real. Then comes the awesome realisation...., how small and insignificant I am, Ithaka is, this planet earth is. How miniscule my life is in the overall machine which is the universe, and which is progressing just as it should, either with me, or without me.

So Lucas and I took three star sights, Acrux (in the Southern Cross), Antares (in the constellation of Scorpio) and Regulus (in the constellation of Leo). You don't get much time for star sights, just the brief period of twilight when you can see both star and horizon. The stars faded but there were still wonders overhead, Jupiter and Venus. Lucas caught them, one by one, in the sextant mirror and brought them down to the hardening horizon. And finally we were left with our closest heavenly companion, the moon herself, hanging in the lightening sky, and we caught her and brought her, too, down to the horizon. What a wonderful way to greet the dawn.

Later on I decided to give the new (second hand)spinnaker another go. We had tried it a few weeks back, it had proved difficult to set, and I had concluded that it was too big and would require amputation once the sewing machine was back to full health. However, more thought had convinced me that we needed to give it another chance before committing to surgery. It is a traditional tri-radial symetric sail but we started by flying it from the stubby bowsprit in assymetric fashion with the sheeting position further forward than before. We unfurled it expecting the worst but it immediately filled and stabilised....Hmmm! The speed climbed from 3 to 5 knots. We adjusted the course up and down and it still hung in there, solid. OK, time for the pole. We rigged it, right down low, and transferred the windward clew onto it. Still good, we altered course, dead downwind and squared the pole back, still there and working. We gave it 4 hours to collapse, or wrap round the forestay, or do all the things that wayward spinnakers usually do but it did none of these, and we only put it to bed when we had to gybe. So, we'll not send it to the surgeon yet. Looks like it might be a good'un.


Mon Feb 1 0:13 2016 NZDT
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 38 17.000s 086 10.000w
Run: 58nm (105km)
Weather: Wind SSW 5 - 8 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 10% cloud. Baro 1020.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Day 38. Ana here. We were becalmed for much of the day, with no sails up. We sunned ourselves, and aired the bedding. It felt almost like being in the tropics again. Lucas even went for a dip in the sea. Not too cold, he told us. I stood on shark watch.

Later Colin, with Lucas and I pulling on various ropes to help stablilise it, took the faulty wind generator off the back gantry. No mean feat with Colin perched on the gantry, and the heavy generator with 1.2m propellor dangling from the main halyard. We turned the engine on and motored at 5 knots to try to reduce the rolling in the sloppy swell. The two engineers found the cause of the problem almost immediately, burnt out slip ring brush connection, they tell me. They are able to repair it, but it is unlikely that we will have another calm patch in order to reinstall it, and make sure it was the only fault. Murphy's Law, and all that.

With just over 600 miles to go to Valdivia, we're busy eating our way through the vegetables and fruit. We have a rather large amount of potatoes to go through, much to the delight of C. and L. I tolerate them, just. However, L. has introduced us to the art of making Hash Brownies with a hint of rosemary, and I have to say they are rather good. Carrots and cabbage are still on the menu. Beef, lamb and venison are still OK in their vacuum packs in the fridge.

The bird life is slowly increasing, in numbers but not in variety. C. and I visited the excellent Albatross Center in Dunedin while in NZ, and saw with horror, a display of a huge amount of plastic found in the stomachs of 1 adult and her chick. Since then, we have made sure not even a tiny amount of plastic leaves Ithaka. Instead we place it in a used plastic milk bottle with a lid. It's amazing how much a bottle can hold. A great solution for storing rubbish on a boat (Thanks, Jose of S/V Stravaig, Savusavu).


Sat Jan 30 23:33 2016 NZDT
Speed:
0.0 knots
knts
GPS: 37 45.000s 086 59.400w
Run: 96.9nm (175.4km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 113.4nm

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Well we came out of the front and had a few hours of relaxed sailing in good winds. Then we met a high pressure system, the wind died and, after a few hours of slatting and banging, we took down the sails and tied the wheel amidships.

Relaxing evening meal of venison stew and fried potatoes washed down with a beer. Then a couple of hilarious rounds of Doh Cranium, which proved that we all have a long way to go in sculpting. Lucas's fridge, complete with opening door and bottle inside failed to make any impression on Colin and Ana, the words on the card, under the food and drink section, were "cold beer"!. For those of you unfamiliar with this "international board game", a hand made Christmas Present from Maunie, the players take it in turns to make a 2 minute playdoh sculpture depicting the word on the card which is in one of 6 categories. The other players guess what the "sculpture" is and progress across the board, a chart of the Pacific, accordingly.

And then we practiced sleeping - very good!


Sat Jan 30 3:02 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 37 14.200s 088 38.100w
Run: 288.5nm (522.2km)
Avg: 11.7knts
24hr: 280.7nm
Weather: Wind SW 10-15 knots. 0.5m sloppy waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1013.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile Spent the day managing the latest front. Soon after a grey, grey dawn, the wind picked up to the mid twenties gusting low thirties. We reached under double reefed main and double reefed staysail, in short, steep, confused seas, averaging 7.5 knots. Ana had the morning watch (0600 - 1000) and elected to hand steer, despite the drizzle, rather than do battle with the windpilot. She also just enjoys steering, particularly when there are waves to dodge and surf on. It continued to rain so, once Ana had finished enjoying the elements, we took a hard line with the windpilot and got her in order, then retired below, except for an occasional foray to the binnacle to check the course and wind direction.

Lucas made bread and I got halfway through the making of the Chilean courtesy flag. Ana caught up on sleep! At dusk the front passed or so we are led to believe. Lucas and Ana decided they needed to earn their dinner and went out on deck with much bravado to "get the boat moving". Reefs came out poles went up. Preventers on, running backstays off. Meanwhile, I stayed in the dry making coleslaw and potato salad to go with lamb cutlets. They came back in, wet and battle weary an hour later, but feeling very pleased with themselves. THe boat was indeed moving. It lasted long enough to have a lovely dinner. Then Ana and I went out to gybe everything as the wind had finally shifted to the southwest. It is still raining.

Good news from Bruce the Weather today. The next low pressure system, hopefully our last for this passage, is taking a more southerly route and the predicted gales on its northern perimeter, are going further south with it. This means that we can "ease" south, as Bruce puts it, so we are "easing", and hopefully will get a good run into Valdivia from the west, in few days time. The log passed 5000 nm today, what a long way! Thank you all for your YIT comments and e mails. It is great to have so much support, from so many parts of the globe.


Fri Jan 29 2:22 2016 NZDT
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 37 01.200s 093 51.900w
Weather: Wind S - SSE 6-8 knots. 0.5 waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1019,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile We ran the engine for 4 hours yesterday and then the wind began to fill in. The sun came out and we had a glorious few hours. Ana and I even managed some sunbathing on the foredeck! Also managed to dig deep into the forecabin storage area (which meant removing everything we are storing on the bunk)and dug out a large French tricolour that used to grace the stern of Ithaka in her former life BC&A. The challenge is to construct a chilean courtesy flag from it (sacre bleu!). Would be easier if the sewing machine was working, but still waiting on another part from the sewing depot in Wellington so this will be a hand sew challenge.

THe next front is now beginning to make its presence felt. We are back to double reefed main and staysail, and hoping we don't need the third reef before daylight.

Good to hear Maunie again tonight on 16mHz and also Red. We could hear you quite clearly Fran, Sorry you couldn't hear us but hope you're having a good time on Barrier.


Thu Jan 28 1:35 2016 NZDT
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 37 01.200s 093 51.900w
Weather: Wind S - SSE 6-8 knots. 0.5 waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1019,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile .

It's 0400 and I've just come in from the cockpit where I have been coaxing Ithaka into motion. The wind is light and variable. just 7 knots. The are 0.5 metre are on top of a 2 metre swell. The waves and swell contrive to knock the wind out of the sails just as you think you've got her going again and the flap, bang, crash of the rig goes through you, right to your core. It is a grey dawn, grey sea, grey sky, grey boat. A cup of cocoa and some of yesterdays bread with peanut butter help to get me through this untimely watch......

30 minutes later, just come in again, the wind has moved forward and all the sails needed trimming for the new direction. We are now nearly on course and managing 3.8 knots, but only for now, in another 10 minutes it will all change again. A fine line of red appears along the eastern horizon, our sunrise.

0600. Give in. Wind now only 3 knots Turn on the engine just to get some peace from the incessant slatting of the sails and rig. Bring on the next front!


Thu Jan 28 1:28 2016 NZDT
Speed:
4.5 knots
knts
GPS: 37 01.200s 093 51.900w
Run: 144nm (260.6km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 152.6nm
Weather: Wind S - SSE 6-8 knots. 0.5 waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1019,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile .

It's 0400 and I've just come in from the cockpit where I have been coaxing Ithaka into motion. The wind is light and variable. just 7 knots. The are 0.5 metre are on top of a 2 metre swell. The waves and swell contrive to knock the wind out of the sails just as you think you've got her going again and the flap, bang, crash of the rig goes through you, right to your core. It is a grey dawn, grey sea, grey sky, grey boat. A cup of cocoa and some of yesterdays bread with peanut butter help to get me through this untimely watch......

30 minutes later, just come in again, the wind has moved forward and all the sails needed trimming for the new direction. We are now nearly on course and managing 3.8 knots, but only for now, in another 10 minutes it will all change again. A fine line of red appears along the eastern horizon, our sunrise.

0600. Give in. Wind now only 3 knots Turn on the engine just to get some peace from the incessant slatting of the sails and rig. Bring on the next front!


Wed Jan 27 2:49 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knots
knts
GPS: 36 30.000s 096 23.000w
Run: 343.7nm (622.1km)
Avg: 12.2knts
24hr: 292.5nm
Weather: Wind SSW 15 - 20 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1017,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

The big tropical depression that has been defining our weather for several days passed to our south this morning leaving us with a southerly wind which is colder and less humid. We even had sunshine for a few hours before the grey clouds returned. With the depression well on its way we were able to set an east-south-east couguinea pigrse which will gradually take us to the latitude of Valdivia. There will be a "hold" latitude at about 37.5 south to allow another front to pass. Then we will move into the "end game" and the approach to the coast. I wonder if there is material here for a new computer game, something like "weatherman".......or perhaps it's already there......or maybe this is a computer game......

A word on communications. We are still having a daily call with Graham and Dianne on Maunie, and Lisa and Lester on Obsession when they are out at weekends. We are 4000 miles away, and nearly in Chile, a 1/4 of the way around the globe so I find this astounding. For those interested, we have now moved up to 16MHz and have been receiving advice on frequency choice from Peter of Northland Radio. We have also been able to help him test his equipment and antennae - he dosn't often get to speak to yachts this far away. We also continue to have an evening sched with Taupo Maritime Radio, this still on 8 Mhz. Yesterday we also used our Sat phone for voice comms for the first time. We phoned Grayson on his birthday and Lucas phoned his mum in Argentina. The ability to maintain these communications has made us feel much more confident, and is, much safer. Thank you so much Maunie, Obsession and Kiapa, and Northland for your support.


Mon Jan 25 22:37 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.5 knots
knts
GPS: 36 00.000s 102 31.200w
Weather: Wind NW 20 knots. 0.5m waves on long wavelength ocean swell. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1016,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 32, Double special day today.

Today is Grayson's 4th birthday. Our eldest grandson. It's hard being here and not being there. It's hard for us but maybe not yet for him. He will have plenty of excitement and plenty of presents. He will not be missing his Nana and Pops who have never been there for his birthdays. Ana and I both come from families whose grandparents were remote, shady background figures. Our daughters never really knew their grandparents, the world is too big and they lived too far away. We would like to do a little better. Make even a small enduring impact on their lives and futures, by spending time with them. They are big stars on our eastern horizon.

Today is also Burn's Day. The day when the Scots celebrate the life and work of Robert (Rabbie) Burns often by taking part in a Burns Supper. Burns was a man whose fame followed his death but whose notoriety preceded it. He was a man of the people, a man who enjoyed life, a man who enjoyed a drink, and more than a few women, but a man who delved deep into the character, morals and ethics of those he chose to portray in his work. He managed to make an enduring impact.

So Grayson and Rabbie, a toast to you both.

Ithaka's Burns Supper will not be featuring Haggis this year.

Nae haggis for us the nicht. Weel ha' venison tho wi tatties, neeps, beets an' oatcakes and, o' course, twa drams, ane for each o' thee, tae wash it a' doon.

And, in Rabbie's words, a toast to the world, for the sake of the grandchildren.

Then let us pray that come it may, As come it will for a' that, That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth, May bear the gree, an' a' that.

For a' that, an' a' that, It's coming yet for a' that, That man to man, the warld o'er, Shall brothers be for a' that.

From A MAN'S A MAN FOR A' THAT by Robert Burns 1759 - 1796


Mon Jan 25 1:31 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.5 knots
knts
GPS: 36 00.000s 102 31.200w
Run: 150.2nm (271.9km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 161nm
Weather: Wind NW 20 knots. 0.5m waves on long wavelength ocean swell. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1016,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 31. Ana here, again. Today my watch begins at midnight, and I know before rising from Ithaka's bucking and rolling, that the wind has picked up suddenly. I pause after sitting up, to give myself the chance to wake up properly. If I don't have my wits about me, I'll be torpedoed from one side of the boat to the other, adding bruises to bruises.

I wedge myself in the companionway alcove to don sailing boots, wet weather gear, hat, head torch, sailing gloves and life jacket, meanwhile Lucas gives a hand over. Outside in the cockpit, there is an overwhelming sound of water hissing, slapping and gurgling on Ithaka's sides, together with a slight humming from the rigging. Thick clouds obliterate all 'heavenly bodies' (a beautiful term I have learnt from sextant notes!). However due to the full moon, there is a gloaming similar to the summer midnight sky at home in Aberdeenshire. I can see quite clearly the entire deck and sails, and that the sea has not yet had a chance to build up.

I furl the Yankee (jib) completely, and ease the staysail. Ithaka's dance turns quickly from an energetic reel to a stately strathspey. With a hop and a skip, she moves with purpose, eastwards.


Sun Jan 24 3:08 2016 NZDT
Speed:
2.0 knots
knts
GPS: 36 11.700s 105 11.900w
Run: 154.1nm (278.9km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 141.6nm
Weather: Wind NW 5knots.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 30. Ana here. Lucas hails me for my watch at 3am today. Despite the ungodly hour, it's a popular watch with us all because of the sunrise. I head for the steering seat in the cockpit with a hot builder's tea in hand. The seat, and the rest of the decking is slightly, but not unpleasantly damp from the dew. With only 2 knots of variable wind, the sea is glassy, but moving sinuously, constantly. The sky holds tones of dark greys, and only loyal Venus shines in the sky. Dark, heavy clouds, which I view with suspicion, are behind and to the west of us. However the intermittent cat's paws indicate they have no punch. The scene slowly changes, but not the dramatic,"OMG, would you look at that!" type, more subtle, washed pinks and blues. Today there is another band of clouds lying in the east, acting as a three quarter raised curtain, screening the sun, and only allowing a ribbon of pink to show through. Gradually a line of silver appears on the sea's horizon, and spreads towards us. Sooty, so called because she is a Sooty Shearwater, appears. Her effortless movements only highlight the silence of the scene.


Sat Jan 23 1:01 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 knot
knts
GPS: 36 27.400s 107 56.80w
Run: 172.8nm (312.8km)
Avg: 7.5knts
24hr: 179.9nm
Weather: Wind NNW 13 knots. Sea 1.0m. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1018,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Thursday 21st January, 0600 ships time, I am just finishing my night watch and looking forward to an hour's sleep before breakfast. The batteries are low, only 30%, owing to the knackered wind generator and to the northerly sector wind which has been heeling the boat, and its solar panels, away from the sun for the past few days. I had wanted to charge the batteries the night before but the crew had convinced me that I should let them sleep in peace.

So, it's the end of the night, time for the end of peace, I turn the key........the peace remains.....just a distant "click".....turn again, this time with more force and determination, now desiring the roar and rattle more than any peace on earth....nothing.

Mind in calculator mode. 100Ah remaining, solar gives us say 30 Ah per day, perhaps less with the heel. Fridge is the main user, 6A for 50% of the time is 72 Ah.......we'll have to turn off the fridge.......11 packs of vacuum packed meat, have to cook it all today, and the butter and cheese...... Water maker uses 30 Amps...no more water making....we only have half a tank...ration remaining fresh water... SSB on transmit uses 10 Amps....save for emergency radio transmissions...no more e mails....no more weather data....lose contact with Bruce the weatherman....miss the slot around the next tropical depression....gale......storm....bugger.

Beautiful sunrise, gentle breeze on the beam...make a cup of tea....read Nigel Calder's Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual. Troubleshooting Chart 7-2. "If the solenoid makes a loud click (how loud is a click?)the starter motor is probably jammed...try turning the engine over...if it won't turn there may be water in the cylinders or the engine may have seized"...........bugger.

Lucas appears. Ana is awake. I spread doom and gloom all over crew and boat, like a virus, out of control.

Ana takes over all deck watches. Lucas and I get out the tools, the box of assorted wires, the electrical meter, circuit diagrams. The removable panels are removed. We start to apply some logic. We bounce ideas back and forth. 2 hours later we have the fault diagnosed - bad connection somewhere in a connector box inaccessibly placed on the engine block close to the inaccessible starter motor. We use a wire to bypass the box and screwdriver to short out the earth solenoid. Lucas crouches with two bare ends of wire, he counts down "3 , 2 , 1 , contact" and touches the bare ends together. The engine roars, the peace is shattered, we smile, we've got the bugger. Shut down engine, remove inaccessible screws holding inaccessible box, inside we find 2 inaccessible relays, one with green corrosion on terminals. We scrape and clean and squirt electronic cleaner everywhere, then re-assemble, re-cable tie wires, re-place engine box panels....and turn the key.

69 Amps, watermaker on, fridge on boost, kettle on, more tea, smiles all round, who needs peace?


Fri Jan 22 1:58 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 knot
knts
GPS: 36 32.300s 111 03.300w
Run: 181.2nm (328km)
Avg: 8knts
24hr: 191.6nm
Weather: Wind NNW 14 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 90% cloud. Baro 1017,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

El aire de Chile finalmente esta llegando para hacerme escribir este reporte en mi querido idioma latinoamericano.(English below) Ayer fue para mi un día de los que llamo “Tipo 1”, un día con turnos de 10 a 14 y de 21 a 24hs. Los turnos determinan, en gran medida, los horarios en los que dormimos, especialmente cuando el tiempo es inclemente y, dada la forma en la que están organizados dichos turnos, se puede decir que tenemos tres tipos de días abordo, cada uno con sus caracteristicas particulares. Podríamos, inclusive, poner nombre propio a cada uno de estos tres tipos y regirnos por una semana inventada de tres días sino fuese por un pequeño detalle: que el significado de esos nombres sería distinto para cada uno de nosotros ya que en un momento dado cada uno esta viviendo un tipo de día distinto.

Hay solamente dos momentos a bordo, en los cuales indiscutiblemente los tres decidimos encontrarnos en el salón y estos son el almuerzo y la cena.

El recuerdo mas placentero que guardo del día de ayer es el de un rato durante la tarde en el que el barco navegaba sobre un mar traquilo, meciendonos suavemente y avanzando con rumbo firme, mientras adentro Ana trabajaba, en la mesa del salón, con sus mediciones de altitud del Sol para determinar nuestra posción, yo recostado en el sillon, resolvia problemas de ajedrez de un libro de Bobby Fisher, después de haber perdido tristemente un partido contra Colin y Colin, en la cocina, preparaba un delicioso estofado de carne con verduras y hongos para la cena.

The Chilean air is finally getting here to make me write this report in my dearest Latin American language.

Yesterday for me was what I call a day “Type 1”: a day with shifts from 10 to 14 and from 21 to 24hrs. The shifts determine, to a great extent, our sleeping schedule, specially when the weather gets rougher, and given the way these shifts are organized its fair to say that we have three types of days on board, each with its distinctive characteristics. We could could even give a proper name to each day and go by this three-day-week if it wasn't because these names would have a different meaning to each of us, since at a any given moment we are all living in a different type of day.

There are only two occasions during the day in which we inarguably decide to meet in the saloon, and those are lunch and dinner.

The nicest memory I keep from yesterday's day, is about some moments during the evening, when the boat was sailing on a calm sea, rocking us gently and progressing on a solid course, while inside Ana was working on the saloon's table to find the our position from her measurements of the sun's altitude, I was lying on the couch solving chess puzzles from a book by Bobby Fisher, after having lost sadly a match against Colin, and Colin in the galley, was cooking a delicious beef stew with vegetables and mushrooms to have for dinner.


Thu Jan 21 3:16 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 knot
knts
GPS: 36 40.300s 114 19.00w
Run: 185.2nm (335.2km)
Avg: 7.4knts
24hr: 176.7nm
Weather: Wind NNW 14 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 80% cloud. Baro 1015,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Blue desert. Are we the only 3 living beings left on this earth? The birds have gone. There is just blue....sea....and sky. We slide along in 20 knots of wind, just a little trimming required now and then to maintain our easterly course.

The tropical low, which caused me some lost sleep a week ago as I wondered how we would find our way past its gale force clutches, has been our driving force for the last 750 miles. The ogre became our friend thanks to Bruce's detailed directions which steered us through the weakest areas and then hitched us onto the system just ahead of the strong winds and rain. Consequently we have sailed the 750 miles under blue skies and in calm seas. Now our friend is moving away to the south and its sister is coming to join us in a few days time. Bruce is starting to work out our best strategy for hitching another ride.

We are receiving many comments through the YIT system and our e mail. Thank you so much. The contact and content means a lot. YIT does not give the e mail address of those sending comments so we are unable to reply unless we know your address already. If you would like us to have your address please include it in the text.

Ana here. After receiving an email yesterday from Paula, Lucas's mum, with the empanados Argentinean family recipe, Lucas and I decided to have another session of making them again. I noted the dough recipe is identical to my mum's Slovenian strudel dough, but without sugar. Three fillings were made. After about the 15th attempt, mine only began to resembled Lucas' perfectly formed empanados with fancy twisted edges. The gallery was a mess, but it was lovely to learn how to make them, and have the time to make them from scratch.


Wed Jan 20 2:07 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.5 knots
knts
GPS: 36 07.500s 117 34.500w
Run: 194.3nm (351.7km)
Avg: 8.4knts
24hr: 200.4nm
Weather: Wind NNW 18 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 20% cloud. Baro 1015,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 26. The days are flowing into each other, merging, watch follows watch, meal follows meal, cup of tea follows cup of tea.

Work, is out there in the cockpit, trimming sails and checking course and weather, or in here, at the chart table writing log, in the galley cooking, or fixing whatever needs fixing with tools or needles. Leisure is also out there, and in here, reading, playing the guitar, learning Spanish,and thinking, or not thinking. There is no end to it. It is a continuum. For now, this is our life.

I find that to think further forward than this life, to count the days, to work out how long to go, does not help. For the moment this is my life and I live within it, enjoying it for what it is and what it has to offer. To do otherwise is to introduce yearning and dissatisfaction and to downgrade part of what is a precious time.

I am reading a book, "The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District" by James Rebaks (thank you Janet)in which he talks about his life as a fell farmer. He describes his feeling of being part of an enduring life, the life of the farm which started generations before and which will continue for generations to come, generations of people, generations of sheep, generations of the soil and the flora and fauna within the valley. He is satisfied with this life, he is proud to be a part of it, a part of the enduring life of the farm. But he realises that,of the millions of people who enjoy the lake district and even those who now call it their home (often their second home), there are very few who will understand either his satisfaction or his pride.

I wonder where my niche is, my valley, my part in something more enduring and bigger than me.


Tue Jan 19 2:51 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 kts
knts
GPS: 36 12.100s 121 03.400w
Run: 191.1nm (345.9km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.9nm
Weather: Wind NNE 15 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1014

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 25 We've managed to avoid that tropical low, thanks to Bruce, our weather guru. Instead of thunder storms and blustery strong winds, we've had a cracking day of sailing, with blue skies, steady winds and flat sea, taking us eastwards. Today I decided to have a go at sextant calculations, and what with Lucas plying us with Spanish words, my head now hurts. It hasn't had to work like this for a long time.

At 0600 utc each day we give our position on the SSB radio to Taupo Maritime Radio in NZ, after which we've been chatting to various sailing friends with similar radios. It's been a highlight of the day. However the reception is getting scratchy, and we're definitely feeling like Captain Tom, losing contact slowly with Control. The distance now is over 3,000 nm to NZ, and even more to Hobart, where Jim and Isabel of Sonsie of Victoria, are currently moored.

Fresh vegetables and fruit are now of the basic kind. We finished off the cauliflower & corgettes (wish I had bought more of these, because they kept well), now down to cabbage, carrots, parsnip, turnip, and of course those vegetables that keep really well, potatoes, onions, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash. Just apples, oranges and lemons now. I go through all the above very carefully every second day, checking for any that might be turning rotten. The vacuum packed meat (whole pieces with no bones) of lamb, beef and venison is holding up very well, and we usually have some usually every second day. Yogurt and bread were made today. So, we are still eating well, and haven't had to turn to the tinned foods yet.

Colin here. Not a good morning but it turned out well in the end. Came on shift at 0600 to find the cooker lying at a ghastly angle and not a sign of life, like a drunk in an Aberdeen gutter. I looked for vital signs - nothing. It usually dances and swings in time with the boat, sometimes offering its comments on the size and shape of individual waves. The very crude aft gimbal on the ENO cooker had failed, the pin sawn through by the ss support bracket. Ana and I got the cooker on the saloon floor (not an easy task when healed over and punching into the seas), all tools out including the electric drill, and managed to fabricate a replacement from a bolt and a piece of ss tube. By lunchtime the cooker was again swinging gaily in time with the waves. We had a well earned cup of coffee - the first of the day.


Sun Jan 17 22:52 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 kts
knts
GPS: 36 08.100s 124 28.800w
Run: 176.2nm (318.9km)
Avg: 8.2knts
24hr: 196.4nm
Weather: Wind NNE 15 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 50% cloud. Baro 1014

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 24 Yet another calm and sunny dawn. No one around but us. The birds have gone.

We have been motoring quite a lot over the last 2 days trying to get in front of a tropical depression which is coming down from the North. If we get in front of it and are enough to the east of its track we should miss the worst of the gales, rain and thunder storms which surround it. Happily we have now crossed its projected track and the engine is having a well earned rest. We should continue to get good passage making winds if we can maintain an average of 6.5 knots. Running the engine has also allowed us to make water and the tanks are again full. The water maker draws 25 amps so we only tend to use it when we are running the engine. We also turn the fridge to its coldest setting and make sure all the rechargeable devices and batteries are fully charged.

The wind came in from the North about lunchtime and we have been slipping along over a smooth sea under full sail. Lucas and I have managed two sights each today and worked out positions. We are managing to get within a few miles of our true position, results we feel quite pleased with and which would be accurate enough for an ocean passage, but not for navigating between reefs and islands.


Sun Jan 17 1:20 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.0 kts
knts
GPS: 35 59.427s 127 37.733w
Run: 128.9nm (233.3km)
Avg: 5.4knts
24hr: 130.6nm
Weather: Wind N 8 knots.

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 23 Another calm day. More motoring.

In this passage I have sometimes had a curious feeling that we are moving along corridors rather than crossing a broad 2 dimensional ocean. It may be the way my mind copes with the enormity of the South Pacific, makes it manageable. It is enhanced by the fact that we have meeting points, waypoints I guess, where we have to be by a certain time to connect with a weather system or, perhaps, avoid one. At the moment I feel we are in a fairy tight west-east corridor. Any diversion from this will result in us positioning ourselves poorly for the tropical depression which is heading SE towards us. We must also make a certain speed along this corridor as we want the depression to pass behind us. When we sailed from Galapagos to Marquesas in 2013 we just sat in the SE trades for 3 weeks and there were no particular turning points or meeting points with any weather systems. We downloaded the GRIBS (weather data) but it was mainly for information rather than causing us to take action. How different this is with constantly moving systems, a moving minefield through which we must find our safe corridor.

Today was a sextant day. Lucas and I spent 10 minutes each taking sights, and then a further 3 hours working out one position line! I hope we'll get quicker with the next one. Why do we bother, you (and Ana) ask! I guess it's just another puzzle to be solved. But it certainly makes us appreciate the skill of the great navigators, and we think with awe, of Shackleton and Worsley navigating the little James Caird across the storms of the South Atlantic from Elephant Island to South Georgia. Men were a different breed in those days. It also make us appreciate the GPS so, so much.


Sat Jan 16 1:39 2016 NZDT
Speed:
7.0 kt
knts
GPS: 35 53.660s 129 55.815w
Run: 167.2nm (302.6km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 154.7nm
Weather: Wind W 18 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 100% cloud. Baro 1012

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

Day 22 Calm sea and sunny skies today, which was very welcome after a couple of rocky rolly days. With the engine and water maker running, we took advantage of the lull, having our first showers since we left, laundry done by hand, bedding aired, linen changed, and a good clean of Ithaka. Domestic bliss! As we are almost half way to Chile, this couldn't of happened at a better time. Later, a relaxed picnic lunch in the cockpit.

When the wind returned we tried our 'new to us' spinnaker, sourced in Auckland. Unfortunately we found it needs modification for it to be flown properly on Ithaka. Another job for the sewing machine and Colin, when back on land.

"Spanish for Cruisers" is being regularly used. Not only by Colin and I, but by Lucas, who is keen to learn the English words for technical sailing parts. (Thanks, Rod and Mary of Sheer Tenacity, who gave us your copy.)


Thu Jan 14 23:43 2016 NZDT
Speed:
5.0 kts
knts
GPS: 35 49.044s 132 54.865w
Run: 166.8nm (301.9km)
Avg: 8.5knts
24hr: 203.7nm
Weather: Wind S 8 knots. 0.5m waves. Sky 90% cloud. Baro 1014

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

This is Lucas, breaking the silence: Started the day with my 0300 shift. Colin and I worked to try and experiment with different configurations of yankee-staysail to increase Ithaka's upwind performance. After Colin went down below I continued playing with the headsail and finally handed the wheel over to Ana, forgetting to undo my "experimental" sail configuration.

Went down below, and inspired by my mother's birthday decided to prepare some traditional Argentine dinner to celebrate on her behalf. So there I was, kneading dough and hand-mincing beef for Argentinian empanadas at 9 in the morning inside Ithaka beating over 25 knot winds and 3 meters waves like a rodeo bull.

Nonetheless, the day progressed quite pleasantly despite the occasional waves that would rush into the companionway every time we left it open, keeping the galley's floor nice and clean (and salty) after my morning cooking.

Later, after our radio session, we had a lovely Argentinian dinner, listening to Uruguayan folklore and drinking Australian wine. Cheered for my mother's birthday and for our sustained and smooth progress so far; soon to be sailing right in the middle of the Pacific.

(La version traducida al Español Rio Platense se hara disponible bajo solicitud individual)


Thu Jan 14 4:04 2016 NZDT
Speed:
6.5 kts
knts
GPS: 36 12.900s 135 51.400w
Run: 165.2nm (299km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 140nm
Weather: Wind SE 20 knots. 1.0m waves. Sky 80% cloud. Baro 1020,

On passage to Valdivia, Chile from Auckland NZ.

MAJOR TOM TO GROUND CONTROL Night watch 0000 to 0300. Bumping and crashing again, hard on the wind on starboard tack. She's trying hard to head east but only making 70degrees. Most of a wave just landed in the cockpit. Luckily I'm inside typing this.

I THINK MY SPACESHIP KNOWS THE WAY TO GO.

As days go yesterday was not too good. Massive flooding in Aberdeenshire. David Bowie no longer with us.

And on Ithaka, the beautiful, steady industrial whine of the wind generator replaced by the untethered swish, swishing of an unloaded propellor...... "freewheeling".

Lucas: "its gone open circuit".

He goes off into the aft locker. Disconnects the wires from the regulator and we both listen for an increase in propellor speed....no change.

Lucas: "its gone open circuit".

He shorts the wires together from the generator. We both listen hoping the load created by the direct short will slow the untethered demon.....no change......no connection. Bugger.

Both of us: "It's gone open circuit".

YOUR CIRCUITS DEAD THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG Lucas starts talking about a "quiet day" when we can disconnect and remove the unit, with its pole, from its position on the top of the rear gantry. Hmmm. It'll have to be a very quiet day. I catch the tail fin of the unit with the boathook, catching it unawares when its looking the other way, and turn it sideways. The demonic swishing ceases, at rest, in peace, waiting for a very quiet day.

On the plus side ....well everything else really. Life's pretty good in the middle of the Pacific. The boat's holding together well.

FLOATING IN A TIN CAN. The crew are happy, seasickness a distant memory. What a privilege to be back here again after 38 years absence. And so nice to receive the comments on YIT and to speak to some of you on the SSB radio in the evening. Just amazing how far these radio waves go.

PLANET EARTH IS BLUE AND THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO WITH APOLOGIES TO, AND IN MEMORY OF, DAVID BOWIE.


Tue Jan 12 23:45 2016 NZDT
Speed:
8.0 kts
knts