Friday, April 2, 2010

Second leg of the looong ride home!!!

After another great day seeing the beautiful sites of Buenos Aires, receiving wonderful massages, more beautiful feasting and relaxing, and a wee Argentinian style cirque de soleil thrown in for good measure; we are about to start our 29 hour flight of the milkrun home. Worth every red minute in the fair skies. Soooo very excited!

Off to kill a few preflight hours with Hayley and Miles (chef on a ship we have worked on) touring the sites unseen in the wickedly wonderful city, including but not limited to, some divine raw food restauranteering, Easter friday markets, and tango on the streets. You have to love a city that offers all that up and more.

Looking forward to being in Canada and hopefully with all 7 uber large bags in tow!! See some of y'all soon and a very blessed Easter to you,


Thursday, April 1, 2010

En the long route home...wooohoooo!!

Arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday afternoon to cram our 7 giant extra uber large and over stuffed duffels into a micro car with both of us neatly tucked in between and under it all. Safely installed in the Milonga Hostel we headed out for some pampering via a deep conditioning scalp massage followed by a non-mullet style nice to not need to roll up some smokes in my shirt sleeve to accessorize my previous 'do'. Met up with some friends from the cruise ships for some beautiful Argentinian feasting. Loving the beautiful beef and vino is so good:)

Off to site see this amazing town and soak up some more delights before heading to the airport tomorrow for a much longed for return home. Woohoo:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thank God for solid ground!! ...kissing the earth as we speak...

Hello all!!!

I would like to say a big thank you to Mike J. for the last post and trip tracker are a star MJ!! And my apologies for my inability to keep you up to date with the trip via my blog. Access to satellite email services were limited to emergency only use for the crew due to limited minutes after those used to arrange medical help/advice during Greg´s finger amputation. I will be posting pictures and stories of the south soon. Below is a quick recap of it all:

The incidents that impacted our expedition are essentially as follows: We left Ushuaia, Argentina on January 30, 2010 on a sailing yacht for South Georgia which is roughly a 1200 nautical mile journey. (Sing with me now....a three hour tour, a three hour tour....) After, two days in Puerto Williams, Chile to clear customs and finalize provisioning, we were off. En route and four days later, we encountered a hurricane, hoved to, and our skipper had his finger amputated whilst working on the drive shaft. We were then forced to hove to for another 18 hours just 200 miles south of the Falklands and medical assistance. We then sailed 2 days back through the tail end of the storm and spent two weeks in Stanley while our skipper was operated upon and we tried to locate another crew member. Greg was cleared from the hospital and departed for Punta Arenas and the search for a flight home to see his ailing father before he passed away. Unfortunately, the tragic earthquake in Chile and the subsequent damage to the Santiago airport prevented his getting home in time. He also underwent further surgery to his finger whilst awaiting flights in Chile. He finally was able to fly home to be with his family on mid March, nearly a month after leaving Stanley. Our sympathies and hearts go out to the Landreth family and our sincere thanks to Kari for desiring to carry on with the expedition in spite of everything.

Two weeks after landing in Stanley and many kind friendships well met, we set sail with our new crew member, Brian Cartwright. We again set forth with trepidation for the 6.5 day/1000 nautical mile voyage in rough seas and ice to South Georgia. Some `bonus´ hove to time was put in twice for yet another storm and then later for a night, in order to await daylight in order to navigate through a dense fields of icebergs which included one that was a 12 mile long, stunning tabular berg.

As for sea sickness, you might well ask? Well, it is best summed up by some comments on our second to last sea day before seeing land. (Do keep in mind how safe and competent our crew and vessel were and how safe, albeit ill, I felt.) We still found ourselves at our wits end with sea biscuit tossing illness and the resulting dampened spirits when these comments were sincerely confessed and summed up our status best: `I need to get off of this bloody, rocking coffin and I am SOOO ready to leave this expeditioning life behind and find a nice hubby, 2.2 children, a white picket fence, a nice garden to work in, with a 9-5 paper pushing, stress free, office job!´. I guess we were craving some stability both in terms of relief from the turbulent seas and its nasty affects on both body and mind. It was almost more disturbing than the nausea, itself to discover how morose one spirit feels during a 7 day southern seas roller coaster ride that never seems to end.

Needless to say, we arrived in Elsehul on February 24th with drool rushing down our chins as we stared longingly at the slowly approaching and ever so enticing land on the horizon. Elsehul is a beautiful cove at the very top of SG that hosts a cornucopea of subantarctic wildlife, summing up South Georgia at its very best and making a sea voyage almost worth it all! Very much food for the weary soul! Three species of albatross and chicks, penguins and seals galore! We were forced to anchor here (thankfully, a calm, quiet bay to reset our poor bodies) for two days to wait out another storm before sailing the half days jouney south to Grytviken and the start of Hayley´s kayak journey.

Once in Grytviken, we encountered another big set back when the beautiful Necky Looksha IV kayak that was pre-shipped and sponsered 18 months prior from Victoria was found to be severely damaged...well, better to say it was `totalled´ in shipping, really. We then embarked on 5 days of major fiberglass repairs attempting and succeeding to reattach the stern deck and hull and rebuilding several other major holes, stress fractures, and `bends´. Meanwhile, Hayley rallied her spirits and prepared to set out in the spare kayak (Current Designs polyethelene Storm) graciously provided by Quark/Peregrine Expeditioning, the expediton cruise company for whom we both work. She was able to depart on what turned out to be a very rare occasion, a calm seas, sunny day, on February 28th.

Along with all of the difficulties above, the expedition was limited by an unseasonably poor summer of windy weather, even for South Georgia, and we had a lot of days spent hunkering down in protected coves, in which no kayaking was feasible due to 100km winds or dense fog and swell. Then there was the tragic earthquake in Chile and our flights home were no longer an option due to the damage on the Santiago airport and backed up flights. We then re routed our flights through Argentina in order to get home before goodness knows when...June maybe?

For this I would like to thank SALLY ESHUYS, our beloved friend, and HEIDI ANDERSEN, of Quark Expeditions, with a gratefulness that goes beyond words and brought tears of relief to my eyes. This amazing team stepped forward in our time of need (due to our limited ability to communicate from our remote corner of the earth - no googling or endless on hold options for us with satellite phone). These two amazing women spent hours and days upon the phone and internet renegotiating and researching our international aeroplan flights from South America to Victoria and a means for us to meet up with these flights from South Georgia. Keeping in mind the barriers of southern ocean travel and the tensions of getting from the Falklands to Argentina when Argentina will not acknowledge British soveriegnty in what they view as their land, the Malvinas....making flights from Stanley to Arg without going via Chile (aka Santiago) quite a challenge in deed!

Hence, a second thank you is hugely in order to Silverseas and the Prince Albert II. Due to weather systems that repeatedly tormented the seas between South Georgia and the Falklands from March 13-22, our sailing vessel, the Northanger, was not able to set sail for our return voyage to the Falklands with the adequate weather and time window needed to get us back in time to meet either our original flights or our rebooked ones. They finally were able to set sail from Grytviken on 24th of March. The return voyage alone requires a 7-10 day seatime, sailing window due to travelling both against current and predominant wind/weather systems. This time line does not include the days needed to wait for that weather window to show up from an appropriate departure location in South Georgia. Thus, we were in need of an alternative to the Northanger in order to get back in time for any flights. As well as the possibility of allowing Hayley a precious, few more days on water in her kayak.

We sent a plea and a summary of our situation to the last ship in South Georgia that was heading to the Falklands and Ushuaia, Silversea´s Prince Albert II. They graciouly and kindly offered us a lift back to Ushuaia and our flights home! What a welcome relief and joy to know that we would be coming back home and that this wonderful crew and ship was there to assist us in our time of need. Not to mention how fast it travels, how friendly everyone was, how very stable it sails...minimal if any seasickness, a wonderful cabin (the owner´s cabin, in fact!), and gloriously delicious meals!!

We arrived in Ushuaia On March 26th and were welcomed home by our friend Fernanda. Thank you Alicia for having us to stay in your room again and we miss your beautiful smile. Wishing you a lovely holiday! It is an oasis here in Ushuaia. We have been soothing our tired body and souls with the beautiful view from the kitchen table overlooking the grandious, ever- changing skies and seascapes of the Beagle Channel. Indulging in relaxation, an Argentinian yoga session (Hayley may have dozed off at one point it was soooo relaxing!), reiki massages, making empanadas and liquados, skyping, and meeting up with good friends down here in the world´s southernmost city.

Even though I have been present throughout the many, varied, and exhausting ups and downs associated with this adventure, I still cannot imagine the depths of heart ache and anguish as well as the strength and power of the dream and spirit that has carried Hayley through the non-stop obstacles and altercations that have harrassed this expedition from every angle and from the get-go. Not to mention the unquenchable energy and stamina that she has had to maintain during the last three years of intense planning. This includes the entire last year when she was forced to shelve the expedition at the last minute due to an essential financial backier dropping last minute due to the economic crisis. To carry forward and mortgage her house to fund her dream whilst continuing to maintain momentum and planning for another year. To then, finally set out on her dream adventure to be hit with all of the above. Hayles, you may not have circumnavigated an subantarctic island but you and the suppport crew overcame many more far greater challenges and if that is not true success, then I do not know what is. And to have paddled for a few minutes in paradise, t´boot! May the albatross continue to benefit from your efforts and may people worldwide become cognizant of this mighty and noble birds plight as an endangered species through your expedition, book, and documentary.

Much love to all and a Happy Palm Sunday from Ushuaia, Argentina where we are making empanadas, drowning in liquados (glorious fresh fruit smoothies), munching media lunas (tastey, sugary croissants) and resting our weary, travel worn selves:)

Beth Anne

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beth Anne is in South Georgia

Based on Hayley's blog ( BA and Hayley arrived in South Georgia on the 23rd and are in Grytviken. I am imagining Beth Anne has not had time to update her blog. If you want to see where the boat is on the map, check out this link: - use the zoom function to get a better idea of where they are. I am sure Beth Anne will post something soon.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The sweet sweet sound of Georgia, back on our minds...

The last week has been a taught bundle of emotions, trials of patience, and lessons in being grounded within oneself whilst uncertainty and the unknown hold court everywhere else. It has been quite the waiting game!

However, if one has to wait anywhere in the world, well then, all I can say is, thank God and let it be here then, by all means! We have had a blast here in spite of everything. Beautiful prairie skies, rolling fields with the pattern of the wind etched in the flowing texture of the grasses, and the constant whitecaps, surf and aquamarine waters washing over white sand beaches. Harbour seals claiming possession and defending us from our own tender, curious cormorants, megallenic penguins viewed from hillside vantage points as their swimming prowess is silhouetted against the clear waters, uplands geese, and wildlife galore!

And of course the daily and daunting puffs of smoke followed by whomping cracks as the sappers rigorously and bravely work to demine the lands around Stanley. There is an expert team of brave Zimbabweans working for a shocking 25 pounds per day risking their lives to deactivate 25 year old mine fields as the Falklands supports removal and prohibition of land mines outlined in the land mines treaty.

The locals are quite upset by the endangerment of lives and the pathetic pay compensation that these brave men are receiving. To give you an idea of the very real, moment to moment danger: these experts experience by crawling on their bellies poking the ground around them with tools similar to knitting needles searching out plastic, can-sized land mines. One blew up recently on a sapper within inches of his face. He luckily came away with only a few scratches due to protective gear, by the hair of his chinny chin chin, and by the grace of God…crikey mc’yikey! When their work is completed, they will invite the community to come out for a game of football on the cleared field. Pretty bold and effective manner in which to back their guarantee, don’t you think?! Brave and obviously, very competent souls!

The Falklands has also had an inspirationally instrumental impact on the state of the albatross and the negative practices of long line fishing. Their groundbreaking research, rehabilitation and new fishing practices have been implemented, studied and shared with a growing worldwide influence. It has resulted in population stabilization and the recovery of the world’s largest black browed albatross breeding grounds, located here in the Falklands. This dynamic community has embraced the cause and managed the privately owned lands responsibly and conscientiously. There are currently around 22 nature reserves protecting indigenous habitat, a comprehensive rat irradication program, and the successful

fishing accommodations have been strongly encouraged with other Patagonian Tooth fish (aka Chilean sea bass) fisheries. Do make sure you are buying responsibly fished sea bass…check out your yummy fish palate choice and its somewhat sustainable status via the Sierra Club’s safe fish pocket guide:

On another note, it has been fascinating hearing accounts of the war, seeing old, wooden barques dilapidating in the harbour, sailing through active naval firing zones and being told, “that’s alright lassie, carry on your course then” as we initially sailed into port with the motivation of Greg’s finger and the keen lure of medical assistance as our motivation to hold course. Greg is en route home now having flown out for Puerto Monte, Chile on Saturday. A very sad departure for all. He will be sorely missed for his calm, his diverse and umpteen super competent abilities, and his cheesy humour most of all! Safe travels back to New Zealand and quick healing!

In spite of our new leading-life-in-limbo lifestyle, we have taken action when and where possible and begun preparations where we can for both plan A – South Georgia (in any form) and plan B – Falkland Islands. The opportunities afforded to us on this latter score is in no small measure due to the effusive generosity of the community of Stanley. Folks have rallied around our story and the unfortunate tragedy. The community is one that has a long history of assisting those stranded and in need: shipwrecks, remote island farming, war, and self-resourcefulness.

Some heartfelt gratitude is in order: We have taken up afternoon and evening residence in the Narrows Pub where our friend Chris has given us internet access and good pub feeds to help us put on our lost weight from the voyage here. Janice, our favourite Falklander, for opening her home, her rover (VERY COOL!), internet,

showers, and friendly family warmth…we love you!! Ken for dinners and calm nights away from the mayhem on his cool sailboat with his wealth of insights and local knowledge. Ian for the great tours and use of his amazing salvage yard with a running, edge of your seat inside history of the area! The British military lads: Roy, Ron, and Nick for the wonderful loan of kayaks, gear, and lunch in the mess t’boot! Steve, for the lending of your kayaks and uber red rover! And last but not least, Debbie and Morris at the Mission for laundry, showers, and such gracious hospitality. Thank you so much to all of you and so many more folks! We are overwhelmed by kindness. And thank you to the radio station and the penguin news for covering the story and sparking the latest and greatest news of all!!!

WE HAVE FOUND A NEW CREW MEMBER!!! YAYAYAYAY Bryan!! Thanks Lynn for sparing your spouse for us to take with us to the glorious South Georgia. That's right folks: South Georgia is back on the menu and is very much a go, Go, GO-GO!! We were requiring very specific and exceptional circumstances in order to consider heading south again after our previous attempt. Further, the right person had to be approved with grounded reasoning by each of us and with special emphasis placed upon our skipper Keri's expert assessment in order for us to make this weighty decision to carry on with plan A. And Bryan fits this bill to a 'T'. A PhD in Neurobiology, computer systems guru, sailor/diesel mechanic extraordinaire, and just plain super nice guy thrown in for good measure:) Thanks for making our dream possible Bryan and for reading the Penguin News last Friday!

We plan to set sail day after tomorrow on Wednesday morning at the butt crack of dawn...4ish am...yeep! We loaded up today on the essentials: diesel, propane, and sea sickness medications. Tomorrow is filling the water tanks, last swim in the beautiful pool at the leisure centre, and a final fairwell to our Falkland friends over a last good pint and treat chez Chris fine establishment.

Cheers and lots of love!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Falklands...whot whot?! What the...?!

The journey is the adventure, after all…isn't it? And as my sister-in-law Tania said, "Perseverance. It's what got the snails to the ark." Are we the snails or the ark? Buddha or the mountain? And which for goodness sake is South Georgia and how do we bloomin' git thar or it, har?!

Time for a wee bit of an update, shall we...

Last seen on the coast of Argentina, we set sail from Ushuaia on Jan 31 for Puerto Williams just south and on the Chilean side of things to refuel, fill our drinking water tanks, buy the forgotten and utterly flavour-for-next-two-months important onions, and of course, clear customs for South Georgia more easily than from Argentina…still a bit of a sticking point what with the land claim on the Falklands/Malvinas war and what not…

We had a great day in Puerto waiting for customs that checked us in 'promptly' at 10 am…rather loosely lost in Chilean translation this turns out to mean roughly 1ish pm and then check us out again at 5pm…ish… Needless to say, we sailed the next day instead. However, we had a bit of a walk through town and a lovely visit with friends of the yacht, Denis a Swiss local and Monica another Swiss who biked and boated from home to India and back and now south to the bottom of the earth. She gave us fresh herbs and salad from the garden. Just some of the amazing people and stories we are blessed to meet down here...that and the wife of a fellow solo sailing around the world...crikey!

Feb 1st saw us in full escort out of the last of the Beagle Channel by a beautiful pair of Peele’s Dolphins that frolicked and cavorted on our bow wave for over an hour! Then we cut our continental shelf umbilical chord as the late summer sun set on our last glimpse of land, Staten Island, and headed out to sea and the dreaded Drake Passage. The next day welcomed us with brilliant sunshine and more visits from Peele’s and Hour Glass dolphins. They were heart tickling and kept us grinning as we soaked up the rays on deck and whilst this green horn learned a thing or two about sailing. Then, well, the clouds started to build on the horizon….daunting, to say the least…yeep!

The winds built overnight to over 60 knot winds and we were forced into our first hove to situation…oh my but yes, I did say ‘first’! Hove to, I soon found out means taking in the sails and bobbing about like a cozy little cork in skyscraper sized seas and huge winds. Aside from the incredible fight to stop my body from rejecting my stomach as a foreign and profane entity that took over me whole body like a sleep inducing, diet diverting, evil minion gone awry….ugh! UGH!! did feel incredibly safe! Even in spite of evil tummy, lying on my bunk watching the mast sway deeply left, then right, then left, no, that was a double right sway, etc on a generally 90 degree swing from centre mast upright pivot point. I found that the most astounding and incredible thing, really! Safe and cozy as a sick bug in a rug:) What a sea worthy and stalwart vessel the mighty Northanger truly is!!

We weathered out that storm after about 8 hours and carried on our course making good time on the gravy train winds of the previous system, which basically had us now cruising on our way to South Georgia. Albeit the seas and tummy never did come round…evil cookie tossing tools!

In short, we continued to have our socks rocked off of us as we sailed well below the Falklands on the end of the storm. We spent the next few days hopping from bunk to more social dinner table bench for watches, spending as little time as possible vertical as that would entail further frantic nick o’ time staggerings to the head. All of the boat movement and the act of simply staying horizontal on the bunk with knees wedged into ledges as a bracer and ducking the swaying low ceilings, has left me with weird rib, core and inner thigh muscle. Thank God for Greg, Keri, and Magnus as they took the brunt of the watches and we just seconded them. They are incredibly solid, knowledgeable, and entertaining in trying times.

Then it was just the major job of maintaining hydration and nutrition…a hard work diet of plain buns shoved in the cheek pouch like chewing tobaccy, some plain pastas, lots of effort to drink and keep down water on the high seas in order to try and keep something other than bile (turns out a lovely shade of blue green, don't you know;) in the wee tumtums…we all lost a bit of weight and even the crew had some bad sea sickness moments…again, ugh!

Now for the second hove to and the real heart of our situation...

Currently, some of you may have noticed on Hayley’s blog tracker map that we are in the wrong set of islands, the Falklands, and have been diverted here due to an accident that happened about 250 miles south of here in 50+ knot winds. We apologize that we have been stalling putting this on the blogs but we wanted to make sure our skipper was able to call his parents to let them know he is okay and tell them what happened first.

Essentially, just a couple of days after the 'hove to' experience on Feb 4th, Greg got his right index finger caught in the propeller shaft and severed it above the second knuckle. We immediately took in sails and stopped our course south, bandaged his hand, then the finger and were forced to agonizingly hove to in the big winds for 12 hours while we waited for any weather window to start a much needed headway north to the Falkland Islands and medical assistance. It was a bit of a harrowing experience and Greg was a real trooper, to say the least! Luckily we had antibiotics and access via sat phone to the great doctor support and advice from the Stanley Hospital doctors. This is something that was very relieving as we sailed the three day trek back 250 miles north to Stanley to arrive finally and safely with Peele's and Cummins Dolphins to flank us into port. The surgeon here did a fabulous job saving the rest of the remaining finger. Greg will need some rehab and healing time to get fully back on his game as he is an avid climber, cellist (he will still be able to play), sailor, etc. A rough time all round for everyone but he is doing well now and has just been released from the hospital today. It is good to have him back home on board and feel his unbelievable good spirit still shining forth and cracking jokes.

What this means to our expedition is...well, it is on a thin edge right now. Greg and the crew are very keen for us to keep going but we need another competent crew person to keep going. This is obviously a high order as there are few at this time of year with qualifications and availability. We also require permission from the South Georgian officials in order to consider other options of carrying out the expedition. In short, we are feeling a lot is hanging on a fine line as our limited weather window begins to wain. Everyone in town, including the officials, is thinking up sailors and giving us a hand. It has been wonderful to experience the kindness and effusive hospitality of this community. For this, we are so grateful.

We had a pleasant few hours today to lift our spirits with an heartwarming visit with our friends who work on a cruise ship that was in town for the day and on which we have both worked. They graciously offered to give us a lift but that still does not get our safety yacht there but was sorely tempting as a fast and smooth ride down. We are also looking at plan B's and have talked out all situations and variables including what it would mean to nix the expedition or change locations. It would be devastating but it has to be considered as a very real option right now. We are clinging to a glimmer of hope and are still trying to get there safely and responsibly to carry on with Hayley's dream and expedition goal.

Well, that is the gist of our situation. Will do my best to keep you all posted as the next few days and hours unfold showing where our adventure will lead us next. Much love and heartfelt appreciation for the encouraging emails that have been coming. They mean a lot right now. It has been stressful on a lot of levels but we are all coming out of it as best as we can, spirits are still high, and we are most grateful that Greg is okay now. Till very soon,

Beth Anne

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Setting our sights on South Georgia...

Helllooo all,

Last email before heading out. Setting sail today after we spend a couple of hours ahead this morning with Argentinian customs' shenanigans and strutting officials prior to send off. A short sail tomorrow from Ushaia (the most southerly 'city' in the world) to Puerto Williams, Chile (the most furtherest southerly 'town'). This is one way Argentina and Chile like to pee in each other's cornflakes. That and the fact they both claim the Antarctic peninsula on their respective maps and in their nightly news channel's weather reports...gotta love South American politics!

We are headed to Puerto Williams to pick up some fresh water as Ushuaia somehow managed to ruin their beautiful glacially fresh water source in the 1 km it takes to reach town...hhhhmmmm....their is suddenly a lot of new and very strong chemicals in the water this year....

Tomorrow we are going to be introduced to learning the ropes and routines. And today, I learned all about the mizen and main masts, booms, and sails. I even know what a genoa sail is....such a greenhorn! Really looking forward to learning so much about sailing, off shore weather, and bigger-boat-than-a-kayak navigation and sooooo much more!

It should take us 7-10 days to sail across to South Georgia. Then straight down to Gritvykn and our official debriefing by the political representatives that reside at the whaling station. Time to unpack and dust off Hayley's boat and kit it up with all of her gear. The two kayaks had been previously shipped there by our beloved polar tour company, Quark/Peregrine. This avoided months of red tape and thousands of dollars in fees and bribes in Ush-vegas.

Then it is time to set Hayley off on her solo voyage and tour the island. We are hoping to stay nice and close to her as well as find some time to go ashore and view the brilliant sights, sounds, and of course, les animaux extraordinaire!!!

The next blogs will be sent to and posted by the ever so kind, Mike Jackson as internet will be limited to very minimal correspondence emails only. You can follow Hayley's progress on her website tracking map. We should be in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands in time for our flight out of there on March 20. Then for a few days in the warm climes in the vicinity of Santiago, Chile where we will fly out of on March 25th for home:)

Till then, wishing you all lots of love!

Friday, January 29, 2010

When the soul takes flight...

When is it that whim turns to fancy? And at what precise point do dreams take flight and land in the cold, stark, and beautiful of surreal reality? Maybe it is after 23 hours of flight, a week in Ushuaian purgatory getting ready to wait, and a 7-10 biscuit-tossing voyage across the cusp of the Drake, crossing the Antarctic convergence to land in the place of dreams, South Georgia.

There are places on this blessed green and blue orb that have the ability to reach into the very core of one’s being, take hold of one's heart with an iron grip, and then caress one's very soul in the same manner in which the sun is apt to gently kiss one's face on a sun dappled day after a long cold winter.

Places that make you feel so alive that you inhale the crisp air as if it were your very first breath of life. And yet, at the same time, your last cherished breath as you give over to something greater than yourself. You are alive to the very marrow of your being and your soul dances with God on earth.

It is said that we all have a geographical home. A particular place on this earth with which you feel a connection with the land: a cottage by a lake, the coastal surf breaking on a rugged shoreline, a tropical paradise, your back yard when the autumn coloured leaves fall and blanket the ground, a garden as the smell of the soil being turned over fills your senses, the smell of grandma's soup, the sound of rain falling in a cedar forest, the crackle of a pine grove on a hot, dry day... Perhaps it is a place you frolicked and cavorted in your childhood. All of your senses awaken to confirm its place in your soul: the sights, sounds, smells of the flora and fauna, the way the wind ripples across this particular landscape, the upwelling of feelings… It is when you arrive at this place after being away, that one truly feels at home with all of heart-home’s inherent comfort and the easiness of its peace.

For me, I think this local is split between the Pacific Northwest and north and south of the 50th latitudes. The ancient mariner’s used to say that, “in the forties there is no law, in the fifties, there is no god”. I beg to differ. This is where I feel the closest to God and the magic of creation.

Where the majestic albatross both soars and slumbers on the wing amidst the erratic calm and fury of the southern sea, humpback whales pirouette with the grace of a ballerina in the weightlessness of azure seas, polar bears look through your soul and see you as simple sustenance in a shimmering yet monochromatic landscape, crotchety walrus flash you their toothsome smiles, and the spiraled ivory of a narwhal’s tusk emerges as an apparition in the milky, glacially silted, teal waters.

Where the trumpeting and acrid smells of a multitude of penguins, seals, and crashing surf welcome you to safe harbour. One moment the ocean’s surface is awash with brash ice and bergy bits and then it is replaced on the ebb and flood of the tide's movements by towering mountain sculptures of ice and grandeur that topple, explode, calve and constantly crackle and pop as centuries of trapped ancient air is released and melts into the sea, where the silence is so profound that you cannot tell if it comes from without or within oneself.

Here you feel you are a visitor that is tolerated but not entirely welcome and the terms of your stay are staked in your heart and wit and determination to embrace it all. Simply surviving means that you never overstay your welcome, exhibit any assumptions or arrogance, or lose your focus for too long. If you do relax into complacency, then the not so subtle slap upside one’s head of a katabatic wind careening down the slopes or the building seas and dumping surf, will soon snap you back to reality and encourage you back to the awareness of the basics such as seeking immediate shelter. It is the land where the works of Creation leave one spellbound in awe and swells one's heart till it wants to rupture with joy as teardrops stream down one's face unnoticed and unsolicited.

This is my soul's home. Where the opposites of the extremes intermingle on an hourly basis. Where beauty really does take one's breath away leaving one feeling winded and alive within the bounds and necessity of heightened awareness. This is the land that I cherish and this is my challenge to you, to cherish and protect yours.

May the albatross continue to hover over the waters infusing the spirits of those who have and those who have yet to take their first breath, with wonder.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gear up in Ushuaia...

The land of Ushuaia has treated us well but it is time to fly the coop. We are hoping to set sail tomorrow pending the arrival of a ship's latch. The boat is fitted up and all of our systems are double checked and tested: satellite phones (huge thanks to Anne and Lo of Naturetrek!!!), computer uploads via sat phone, tracking device for Hayles, epirb confirmations, video formatting and downloading, yadda yadda yadda, etc.

The shopping is done and I discovered a brand new talent of shopping for odd items (electrical tape to antacid to fish sauce to...) in spanish that have me running all over this backwater town. Also, learned today why we have to count our change as this seems to be a money laundering/drug port. Crikey! Who knew?! Sounds like Nanaimo, eh?!

Well, off to pack and to call home. Enjoy the shots of Ushuaia, the ship, my bunk, the crew (Keri, Greg, and young Magnus), blonde and beautiful Alicia and her friend Mark.

Will post soon with a map of the journey...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ola from the Southern Most City in the World!

Hello everyone,

Get ready for some general pretrip blatherings and email to pass on my new blog which I hope to be able to update periodically with the uber-kind assistance of Mike J.:

After two days of plane travel, we landed in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We spent a glorious evening in my favorite city at Milonga Hostel: haircuts from dashing Argentinian lads that suggest "bangs?" and you say, "but of course!" b/c what else do can one say to a sultry, spanish speaking chico even when you end up with a quasi-mullet?! Really hoping it is not that bad but well, have bangs now...sheesh, sucker that I am. Then pedicures with a rotary tool to sand the wee pieds down to baby bum softness, a pamperingly good meal with some vino tinto...aahhh delicioso!, and a mad dash to try and find a battery recharger for my camera....idiot that I am to have not packed it!!!!! Then, one more flight to Ushuaia three days ago. The true success of the trip so far is that we have managed to check in and arrive at the same time as our 500 kilos of gear/luggage in 7 'wee' duffels without problems AND a half price discount, t'boot...what a relief here, in Argentina, where things rarely go to plan!

The Northanger crew welcomed us with open arms to our new home away from home and we (both Northanger crew and us) are so relieved to discover how lovely they all are and how well we get on together! We settled in, unpacked and loaded our bunks to the hilt with gear, ran some errands and found two battery chargers at the last-option-to-get-one camera store ...PHEW and YAY!!! I am soooo relieved that I have to say that again, YAY!!!...still feel like an idiot, though:) Then, dinner Argentinian style at 10pm and still broad to love the south:) We spent the rest of the night getting to know each other over some good laughs and wee beers...

We are now in this beautiful and most southern city in the world staying at our good friend Alicia's appt overlooking the Beagle Channel! It is an utter oasis and Alicia is our hostess with the mostest/mother of the world whilst away from home and is taking such wonderful care of us. Meanwhile, the crew are reprovisioning with produce and food for the two month voyage and Keri is in the hospital today for some standard and microscopic surgery...she is out now and recovering well though.

Hayley and I are running around double checking our systems and gear and hunting down weird items that are not allowed on airplanes: like a bio wash for Hayley to use in order to wash her gear when she leaves one penguin colony for another...aka every day and landing...part of the permit application...

Otherwise, we are having a great time catching up with the family of Antarctic workers here in Ush-vegas (aptly nicknamed due to the burgeoning casino market...odd mix of Patagonian beauty, cruise ship passengers, general backpackers, and locals...kind of a hodge-podge medley of profoundly inspiring nature and a cross section of all the varied ilks of society similar to Tofino, really:)

Well, that is all for now. We will be departing Ushuaia around the 28th depending on a good weather window to start the trip down the Beagle Channel and out across the Atlantic for a roughly 7-10 day voyage to South Georgia.

Much love, thanks, and blessings to you all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

South Georgia...(where the h-e-2X-hockey sticks!?!)...

Nope, not the country that makes Russia a lil' hot under the collar nor that saucy place with the southern drawl where mint julep is served out front on the davenport...

Head further south towards the tip of South America, then southeast about a thousand plus nautical miles in the range of the 50's latitudes, look and smell for the hundreds of thousands of penguins, fur and elephant seals, towering glacier capped mountain peaks, and the graceful soaring of the mighty albatross...This awe inspiring location is where I will be volunteering as a kayak support on a rescue yacht which will be trailing Hayley Shephard.

Hayley will be attempting the first solo kayak circumnavigation of South Georgia (about 500 nautical miles)...not your average lilly dipper paddler! She has a few solo circumnavigations already under her belt including Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Her expedition is a dream that is finally coming to fruition after nine years of careful planning. It will also be raising awareness and funds for the plight of the albatross whose numbers are rapidly declining due to a variety of negative human impacts including, but not limited to, long line fishing practises at specific latitudes in which the albatross fish. For more info and to follow the expedition, check out her website:

The South Georgia government requires all expeditions in the area to contract their own rescue vessel due to the remote and furious nature of the area, as well as, the subsequent expense and time delay in deploying any land, sea, and/or air evacuation. The rescue yacht will be the Northanger, owned and operated by Keri Pashuk and Greg Landreth: The kayak expeditions are also strongly encouraged to have a kayak support person aboard the vessel to accommodate and advocate on behalf of the kayakers specific needs and requirements. I will join the yacht team in this role in conjunction with pitching in on general sailing duties...between cookie tossing activities, of course:)

The team will be leaving this Friday January 22 for a night in Buenos Aires before flying even further south to Ushuaia. Here we will spend a few days sorting out last minute gear and then join the Northanger crew before setting sail for Grytviken, South Georgia. This is the ghost town whaling station where Shackleton and his men ended their epic adventure and where we will begin ours.

Well, that is the latest swash buckling shenanigans! Stay tuned for more on the Albatross and South Georgia...YAY!!