Anchored in Melchior & Day 5 (+3 hours)

1030Z 18JAN22, anchored in Anderson Harbour, between Zeta and Eta Islands, Melchior Islands, Antarctica

Day 5 plus 3 hours, Drake Passage.
27 hour progress: 144nm, 5.3kts avg SOG.
Passage Information: 646nm, 5d 3h (123hrs), 5.25kts avg SOG, 19.7h on engine
Casualties: anemometer & hem in Chilean courtesy flag (both occurred at anchor off Lennox Island, Chile)

Day 5 was tough. The first 8 hours remained close hauled. We made the final call that we wouldn't make landfall at Pitt like we had hoped and would instead aim for Melchior. For the afternoon the winds calmed, we shook out a reef and we relaxed to a close reach. We continued making good speed.

We also fretted about weather. When we took this weather window we knew that pushing departure from Wednesday to Thursday set us up to get head winds and then heavy winds from the south west when we would potentially be making landfall. We had hoped we could motor through the head winds and that we would make landfall before the heavy winds. This was not to be. Hope is not a strategy.

We ended up sailing the head winds as they were strong enough and the seas weren't calm enough to motor through them. So we sailed a westward tack, before turning south southeast. While we sailed well and comfortably, we lost about a half day's forward progress (compared to moving along the rhumb line at 5kts). This was good in that it saved fuel and got us west enough that we could ultimately make Melchior, but bad in that it meant we had about 4-5 hours through those 50+kt winds. We knew it was going to happen which helps, but it still was daunting and challenging.

We reefed down to our 4th reef on the main, and ended up with a handkerchief worth of genoa. This kept our speed around 5-6 kts on a good course and was comfortable and manageable. The seas were big and they pushed us around a little. However, it was all safe enough. Just tough. In some ways it is good that the anemometer failed as we can make up how much wind it was!?! Ah, it will be a good sea story now that we are safely anchored.

The weather continued to be overcast, gray and cold. However, as we approached the Antarctic Peninsula the clouds cleared and you could see the outlines of some combination of clouds and mountains. It was impossible to know which was which in the twilight hours of "darkness". As daylight approached (3:30am), the winds hadn't died off really, the white behemoth mountains towered in front of Zephyros and we worried whether things would ever calm to help us to make landfall or if we would just be barreling into the Peninsula.

Of course, things did calm down as forecasted, we rolled out more sail, we motor sailed, then we secured all the sails and motored into the Melchior Islands. We found 2 boats tied into the normal parking spot and it was pretty windy there. We continued on to evaluate additional options and ended up anchoring in a bay to the north where we can free swing until the winds die down enough for us to inflate the dinghy.

In the meantime we are happy to be in Antarctica! We enjoyed a hearty bacon and egg breakfast and are warming the boat with the Refleks heater. Off to do some chores and maybe take a nap…

Next post will probably be in a week to summarize our first week in Antarctica. Thanks for reading and following our progress!

1 comment:

  1. glad you made it over though all the weather challenges. thanks for mentioning temperatures in earlier post, was wondering what they were.