Due to administrative reasons we have to do a bit of back and forth-ing to get into Chile. It's not simply a matter of heading over the Beagle Channel, waving around some passports and getting into the country. We had to head about 5 hours away from our destination (thankfully with the wind at our backs) to a very little town which could compete with Ushuaia's claim of being at the end of the world.
Because of the windy delays we arrived in the dark. Despite my keen desire to help I decided to stay inside. There were more than enough hands on deck and my Spanish is still too bad to understand if someone says "no no not there you landlubber, move that rope there! Duck!" But it's near the top of the list of phrases to learn.
Entertainingly, although we arrived late we were greeted by a distinctively Australian accent on the radio who helped to guide us into our sleeping place. It was quite surreal to hear such a strong accent surrounded by mountains and snow. It turned out their boat was from Hobart, and was a solid chunk smaller than ours. I feel it takes some guts to navigate the Pacific in such a vessel, not to mention Cape Horn. Being out here I am once again reminded of how impressive and brave/nuts the original explorers were. They did everything we're doing with less waterproof clothes, with significantly less solid navigational equipment (let alone radar) and without any chance of catching some mobile phone signal to message home. Tough, but undoubtedly exciting.
We've had a bit of rough weather so far, mostly due to high winds, though we had a little bit of rain as well. One of the crew, demonstrating dedication to his art, stood out on the bow with waves crashing over, using his GoPro (held out on a stick). It's a pretty impressive video (though not one that one should watch whilst at sea, the motion of the ocean plus a video of the motion of the ocean is a perfect recipe for the motion of the stomach). You can even see him disappear under one of the waves, a holding of breath moment for everyone aboard for sure! (it's ok mum, I promise not to do this! That's why I brought all the zip ties!)
We've also seen a whole bunch of wildlife out and about, and being wild.
There's albatross, seals and whales. This morning we are waking up in a beautiful little cove, my fellow adventurers are still asleep, but the critters around and about aren't. They're up and at'em, catching their version of the early worm. There were whales off in the distance, I could see their blow and their backs breaking the water, and then seals closer in having a little seal party, and moving about quite a bit so I'm assuming they had been successful in catching some fish. There's also sea bird colonies along the beaches, alongside a few abandoned buildings. They are noisy birds, it's a lot like the sounds of waking up in a shearwater bird colony. If you've never woken up surrounded by sea birds, it's a worthwhile experience to seek out. They do not make a subtle celebration of the coming of the morning sun.
So far, the science has been on the backburner. I've been mostly adjusting to being at sea, and being in a much smaller vessel than I've experienced before. I've also been trying to work out what is feasible, what isn't feasible, and how things are going to work. A bit of a snag is that I want to look at fish stomachs. However when the crew has been fishing before all they've caught is Albatross. Which I really really REALLY don't want to catch. That would be unpleasant for all parties concerned. So we need to come up with a fishing plan which catches fish.
Water sampling seems to be working ok, however I'm yet to actually spot a piece of plastic over the side. Which is quite interesting in it's own right, however we need to make that a scientific observation not just a "hey, there ain't no plastics here fellas", because there probably is - that's the downside of all the oceans being interconnected.
Everyone has done at least one watch now, learning how to use the auto pilot and to follow a course on the digital charts. The wind has made it a tricky skill to learn, and there's more than one or two significant deviations, squiggle style from our path, but we're all getting better. It's going to be exciting navigating over night when we are in open water and sailing 24/7. I'm hoping my trust in the instruments will be sufficient by then! However after being on the RV Falkor and knowing that some smaller wooden boats don't turn up on radar, and not everyone sails with their lights on, well.. I'm a bit edgy to say the least!
And now the boat is waking up, the sun is giving a beautiful golden light to the mountains and gradually melting away the clouds over the snow peaks. It's back to business!
Comments are very welcome!