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!!

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