This morning we were still at anchor in Martel Inlet and the day started for some at midnight keeping watch on the upper deck to prevent floating ice from hitting the yacht. The conditions were not kind to us with winds of up to 40kts, sideways rain lashing those on watch and constant battles with mini- icebergs of various sizes.
The watch of Emily and myself known as “Doom Watch” (the record for emergency engine starts to avoid hazards) had the fun of manoeuvring the yacht whilst still anchored to the sea bed to simultaneously avoid three icebergs, each the size of the yacht. Having successfully avoided one of the icebergs the other two were caught by the wind and outgoing tide and made a move more akin to a pride of lions closing in on a helpless water buffalo.
Being stuck at anchor has had a strange effect on some, mostly Molly and Josh who have developed a routine for handing over the iceberg pole, which wouldn’t look out of place at the Tower of London. It involves the oncoming person being challenged by the current person on watch, the pole being passed over and then the off coming person marched down the ladder to the warmth of the yacht. The crowd of penguins at the Brazilian research station didn’t look impressed and quickly swam off on the hunt for food.
Lunch today was an epic affair by a man who will never gain employment as a burger flipper once he leaves hydrography. The preparation took 30 minutes for 12 burgers and the cooking time ended up being 1hr. The end result was 11 hungry sailors delivering abuse to the chef whilst he managed to char each burger so it resembled the sole of a cheap pair of shoes. I don’t think Shady will be cooking the AE16 BBQ when we return.
As AE16 had so far cleared the inlet of 80% of the drifting icebergs, much to amusement of the Brazilian scientists, in the process building arms similar to that of an Eastern European shot-putter, it was decided to attempt to find a new anchorage with less ice so we could prepare for heading further South tomorrow.
After lunch the Brazilian research station radioed to the yacht with an invite for us to go ashore and visit them. Before any of us could answer, the Commander politely declined the offer and informed them we would be leaving for another anchorage. On the way a Polish research out-station radioed us to visit them, the two scientists not having seen anyone else for over a hundred days. The conditions at their cove were not ideal for anchoring so we regretfully bid them farewell and left them to their one hundred and first day alone. It would seem our yacht of 12 intrepid sailors is in demand at this lonely part of the world.
We are now at anchor East of Penguin Island and unsurprisingly the name is a giveaway for our fellow residents. The island has high cliffs upon which the penguins look down at us from a scene similar to the film “Birds”. When downwind of the island the smell is not the most pleasant; considering there are 11 smelly men and one sweeter smelling woman crammed on this yacht, the yacht still smells much better!
Tomorrow morning ‘Ice permitting’ the plan is to make the dash across to the Antarctic Peninsula and our first steps on the globe’s most southern continent.