Friday, October 18, 2013

Last Night at Sea - South Georgia just out of sight

By Larry Oct 17
just off watch at 10pm UTC (2200 Zulu) Pos: 80nm west of South Georgia Island.

We've had a wonderful sail all the way so far. Downwind with the double headsail rig and only one or two adjustments for days. The low pressure systems keep marching through the Drake and their northern extents keep changing our wind direction. So we keep following the wind around to stay steadily downwind taking a bit of extra miles but no worries, we don't want to approach King Haaken Bay at night anyway. There are reefs marking the entrance and we'd like to see the boiling water hitting the reefs on either side so we know where to enter the bay safely. The bay is about 4 miles long and has another very shallow area in about 2 miles so Skip and Magnus think we will be reasonably protected in the head of the bay, especially if the wind has a bit of north in it.

Tonight's sunset lit up the sky even though we didn't actually get to see the sun set the light was beautiful as was the snow that was dropping on the deck when we went out to do a sail adjustment. I was on the bow trying to guide the furler line around the drum properly with ice on deck and on the bow pulpit that I was hanging onto. The waves are decent size, still the 15-20 ft max heights. We now have a bit of cross swell from the changing wind direction. The water temp is -0.5 degrees C (31 degrees F). The air is a bit colder. But being outside is a real treat. We definitely have passed the boundary into the Convergence Zone. Its cold and the water is a beautiful clear color at the top of the waves. It almost looks tropical.

Life on board has been very easy. Ed made a great bread and toffee pudding for desert tonight after Skip had made risotto al funghi. We are definitely eating well while the stores last. All the wine is staying chilled under the floorboards of our cabin.

Julian has been telling us about his work in conservation groups on South Georgia. Reindeer were introduced in the early 1900s by the Norwegians. Between the rats that have firmly grasped many areas of SG and the Reindeer, they have been hurting the populations of birds nesting on the island. One group has undertaken to get rid of all the rats, but they are waiting on Julian's group to get rid of all the reindeer first. They have transplanted some reindeer and have corralled the others and are now getting them ready for market. They sold off the first 2000 last year and this year will be the last remaining 2000 of the herd. As an end result, it is hoped that SG can be put back to the way it was before man started to interfere and that SG will once again be able to support the huge numbers of birds within the Convergence Zone that it did historically.

On we go into the night, with a nearly full moon on our bow, taking turns watching for icebergs and bergy bits, size of houses or trucks. Also, trying to keep our speed under 10 knots so we don't reach the island until after sunrise.


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