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