Sun sights & Wildlife

I write the blog in almost the same position as we were about two weeks ago,
but very unfortunately are heading in the other direction! We have Isla
Lennox to port and Isla Nueva to starboard as we begin to re enter Chilean
civilisation. We have north easterly winds which has unfortunately not
allowed us to stop on Cape Horn Island as the only anchorages leave us
exposed to the onshore wind. Instead we are now heading to a small village
(or collection of portacabins apparently) called Puerto Toro, which
hopefully allows a safer stop for a while.

Crossing the latter stage of Drakes passage yesterday we (sort of)
experienced its other side ‘ Drakes lake’ – relatively calm sea state with
little wind but the rolling swell wasn’t enjoyed by the cooks downstairs. We
motored along enjoying the sun shine and blue skies for the best part of the
day before the wind picked up in the afternoon from the north east. Many of
the crew took the opportunity to take sun sightations for astro navigation
using a sextant,
which I am just beginning to appreciate. The evening sail was marvellous
with the full main sail, storm staysail and jib out. Hourglass dolphins
joined us for
a while and cape horn was sighted in the distance next to the sunset; the
cumulus clouds have returned since leaving Antarctic waters which brighten
up the sunrises and sunsets.

The wildlife I have been unexpectedly impressed with are the sea
birds. Hundreds of miles from land these mighty birds sore centimetres next
to the
waves and swell in search for food. They live in this isolated environment
through all the extreme weather thrown at them; they are extremely
tough birds! The boat’s favourite seems to be the cape petrel which is a
blacky/browny and white bird. We have also seen many Royal, Sooty (my
favourite), Wandering albatrosses whose incredible wing span and aerial
presence makes them feel like hurricane bombers! Interestingly they
continuously circle the boat, either out of shear fascination at what we are
or most likely the food that comes in the water we churn from our stern.

As our Antarctic experience comes to a close I would personally like to
thank the amazing efforts of Clare, James, Jon and Cliggy for such a
smoothly organised, safe and enjoyable trip. I’d probably do a ‘three
cheers’ or something like that now, but this is a blog and I’m writing it on
my own at the chart table at 5 am!

Ali

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