After a near hurricane in Stanley the conditions are surprisingly benign in the early stages of our 800 miles passage to south Georgia
It’s Sunday morning and we’re 200 miles down the track towards South Georgia, motoring with less than 10 knots of true breeze bang on the nose – not the sort of Southern Ocean conditions I’d been anticipating and very different to our sojourn in Stanley which saw the wind top 84 knots, recorded on a ship lying nearby!
Nonetheless, it’s very pleasant sitting here in Adele’s massive and comfortable deck saloon, the sun streaming through the ports and breakfast of smoked eel, smoked New Zealand salmon and fresh coffee setting us up nicely for the day. Even better having heard that the English rugby team at last managed a victory at Twickenham.
We departed Stanley in the Falklands yesterday late afternoon in less clement conditions with up to 30 knots out of the north, cold rain and the sea temperature at about 7 degrees. We set a reefed mizzen, a yankee with a couple of rolls and a high aspect ratio staysail, a neat, well balanced, easy to handle sailplan which gave us a steady 12 to 13 knots. This we maintained until about 0300 when the wind headed us and died forcing us to resort to the iron topsail.
Commanders Weather, a prediction service which comes through Adele’s management company MCM in Newport RI – in fact Nigel Ingram from MCM is aboard for this trip – had not predicted this (very unusual for them) but they are now suggesting some activity from a low chasing us. This is confirmed by the weather GRIB files received onboard from NOAA Air Resource Ltd.
The aim is to make it to SG before that system hits but in the meantime we1re looking at light conditions. I certainly can’t believe it’s going to remain as benign and as sunny as this, but if it does come from the west we should have a reasonable ride for the next 600 miles into Grytviken on South Georgia’s north coast.
Eef Willems is our guide aboard Adele. She has been based aboard her 47ft yacht Tooluka in Ushuaia in Argentina for the last 12 years, running charters and acting as a guide for yachts cruising in Antarctica, The Falklands and South Georgia. Her detailed local knowledge has been and will be crucial as we approach the wild looking coast of South Georgia in uncertain weather conditions. If the visibility stays as it is it’s possible we could pick up the 10,000ft high peaks of the island up to 100 miles out, such is the clarity of the atmosphere down here.
We’re running a luxurious two hours on, six hours off watch system which ensures plenty of sleep. We pass the time watching the occasional albatross soaring effortlessly alongside and keeping an eye on the instruments including water temperature which will soon indicate that we have arrived at the Antarctic Convergence, the point at which glacial meltwater meets the ocean true. The temperature will plummet to close to 0 degrees C and we’ll be keeping a very sharp look out for bergs.