Hot sun but cool air as Adele counts down the miles to Grytviken


There’s not a cloud in the sky and we’ve got a true wind speed of about 18 knots. Unfortunately our course to South Georgia means we’re running absolutely dead downwind so we have had to resort to motoring as we need to keep up a certain average speed to keep ahead of a nasty low lurking behind us.

Andre our captain has written in the log, ‘no slower than 11.5kts and no faster than 14kt’. When we can set some sail we occasionally surge to 14 and then its time to ‘throttle’ back. Too slow and the engine is on. In fact we’ve been motoring for most of the passage, the 1,000hp Caterpillar consuming about 100lit an hour together with the fuel for at least one gen set. Wonder how our carbon footprint looks down here?

The other issue is weather. Information comes in all sorts of ways apart from obvious things like checking barometric pressure onboard. Quiksat files are fascinating. These are print outs derived from satellite imagery which measures wave height and direction and then converts this into wind charts showing strength and direction. They arrive on the yacht just 20 minutes after the satellite observation. That big low is shown like a tightly ringed dartboard just a few hundred miles astern.

The Quiksats can be read alongside the information coming from Commanders on a daily basis. This is a chatty, personal report to Andre suggesting what he can expect and when. Between the two we get a pretty reasonable idea of what is going on weatherwise.

Sitting at our ‘work’ stations alongside each other in Adele’s ridiculously well equipped deck saloon, Nigel Ingram tells me he was impressed by the Chilean Navy’s weather site when Adele was on passage round Cape Horn. “Immense care had been taken with these charts which appear to be hand drawn,” said Nigel. Actuals are used to build up
weather charts in the traditional way and Nigel reported that they were
particularly accurate.

We need to make the most of the current clear, sunny conditions because the likelihood is that the next low will hit soon after our arrival in South Georgia. With the ‘breeze’ forecast to come in from the north with a vengeance the north coast of the island will be an interesting place to be. And we are keen to land at Salisbury Plain and St Andrews, home to the two biggest King Penguin colonies. The weather will continue to be our master? In the meantime here’s a picture when conditions were less pleasant about 30 hours ago.