The Egret crew are the life of the party at the tip of Argentina

Day 111: New Year’s Eve in Ushuaia
Position: 58° 48S 68° 18W
Ushuaia, Argentina

Scott and Mary Flanders left Gibraltar on 16 September, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For the first instalment of their diary, click here.

Let us bring you up to date on Ushuaia. It is 10:20am local time. We are on anchor watch in the pilothouse. Last night and this morning the wind has been puffing from 25 to 40 knots. Egret, the other long distance cruisers anchored and the small local boats on moorings are doing their best Bo Jangles imitations skating around in the gusts. With our 110lb anchor, TK, buried deep in the mud with a 7-1 scope we are not afraid of dragging. The other long distance cruisers are not an issue either. By the time you reach this part of the world you have it figured out. The issue is the small local boats on home made moorings with questionable attachments. If any one of those turns loose, particularly at night, it could cause BIG problems in the anchorage.

Now for the worst part. Yesterday evening we visited the camera store where our new Nikon image stabilised lens was waiting to be unpacked. The new D80 Nikon camera is on display with Egret’s name on it. Of course there is a difference between want and need but we NEED those toys NOW but are boat bound. We have always written sooner is better than later and now is one of those times. After all, beneath this hair dyed gray there is a boy at heart. The bottom line is we will have even better pictures to share with you. Our only wish is you could see them in full resolution.

Egret hosted New Year’s Eve for an international group of sailors. She was packed with people and was trailing a dinghy boat show off the transom. Mary baked a huge platter of mahi mahi caught on the way to Brazil served on a bed of rice and veggies. Others brought volumes of food as well along with a bit o’ de’ grape juice. By midnight we had a warm glow and all was well. Cruisers meeting as only cruisers can. Strong friendships bonded in a short time sharing each other’s company. Great fun. Unforgettable times.

Ushuaia is a typical tourist town serving the Antarctic cruise ship trade in the austral summer and skiing in the winter (northern hemisphere summer). A number of national ski teams and Olympic ski teams train here. The setting is beautiful surrounded by mountains covered with snow even in the summer. The Canal Beagle tempers the local weather both summer and winter with average temperatures varying little. A few miles inland there is a huge difference with seven feet of snow in the winter. Beneath the tourist shop facade is a small community of nice people. There is NO crime here unlike so much of South America.

Ken Murray, an American boater from Pelagic, with a 25-year old 40′ Defever has visited Egret twice. Ken’s tortuous journey south to Ushuaia was chronicled in the March/April 2003 issue of Passagemaker Magazine. Ken has lived here since and loves this area. Ken may ultimately have a big influence on Egret’s cruising plans for the next year. First he is singing the praises of winter cruising in the Chilean Canals. Secondly he is saying Antarctica is very doable safely if you are not on a schedule. On our weather files we often saw the Drake Passage between Cape Horn and the tip of Antarctica with little wind for a few days at a time. Ken’s wife is Dutch but has been living here for 22 years working as a pilot guiding commercial and private vessels in this area including Antarctica. Can you imagine the ice? Penguin colonies? Majesty? Pilot aboard, charts, history, local knowledge, WOW! Sooooo, another seed is planted. We’ll see.

It is time to face another trial by water. Dinghy ride to the dock. Fortunately we have both dinghies in the water. With Master Angler Steve’s daughters in town we leave the little dink for MA Steve and we have the luxury of Egret’s 12′ catamaran dinghy. Gotta go to the camera shop. Life is good for the Egret crew.