Egret says goodbye to Jim Leishman, and plays chicken with some ice

Day 136: Ice breaking
Position: 54° 48.80S 68° 18.36W
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 installment of their diary, click here.

Sad day, mi amigos. Special guest Jim Leishman from PAE (Nordhavn) left this afternoon for his flight back to the States. Jim was our good luck charm for Egret’s great weather for rounding Cape Horn. Jim showed us how to tweak our autopilot settings, which will be a big plus in the future. He also helped us with reducing the picture pixels into e-mailable sizes from our Iridium phone and Ocens software. Today will be the first big test so we’ll see. If this works out we will be able to include a picture with every update to let you see what we are trying to describe. What a breakthrough this will be. As you know the Egret crew is technically challenged (to be kind to ourselves). Jim is also bringing back quite a few pictures of Egret’s travels from Mar del Plata, Argentina to the Canal Beagle, around the Horn and our latest anchorages.

After rounding the Horn we cruised and anchored three times on the north arm of the Canal Beagle. The first two we reported earlier but the third was really special. After leaving you last time, we took our Brit and Aussie friends on a tour up the western arm of Seno Pia.

There were no shallow hazards like our trek the day before up the eastern arm. The only hazards were the cold floating ones. Egret played icebreaker going very, very slow bumping in and out of gear at idle moving these chunks of ice out of the way. We worked and worked our way north and eventually made our way just in front of the continually calving glacier. The blue ice of the glacier was calving with giant booms, creaks and groans. Occasionally when an exceptionally large chunk broke off there would be fairly large swells radiating outward. Cool.

After positioning Egret in front of the glacier we launched the dink and motored away bouncing the little rubber boat between chunks of floating ice. Jim and I took picture after picture. When the sun came out for a bit we got some really spectacular shots with ice in between the dink and Egret and the blue ice of the glacier face in the background. Later, with the pictures loaded in the laptop we were sooo proud of our beautiful little ship and the shots we had taken. In our enthusiasm we told Jim this picture HAS to be a magazine cover picture. With a wave of his hand he dismissed it as a “typical SE Alaska” picture. Crushed and dashed you know who moped a bit.

Remember now, when Egret toured up and down the western arm we had the Brits and the Aussie sailboaters aboard. The Aussie was single handing in a beautiful 40′ or so strip planked sloop he built himself. He left Australia, backtracked through the South Pacific, up to Alaska and now is in Chile. From here he will sail directly to Sydney non-stop below Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. Amazing.

The Brits own a 53′ French built Amel ketch. Amel and Nordhavn owners are the two most passionate proponents of their brand we have run across. We enjoy their company even if he was a lawyer. He is good-natured and loves to talk about whatever in his proper British dramatized speech. He also never forgets to put in a plug for his Amel. They have been aboard Egret a number of times and we always catch them looking out the salon or pilothouse windows, something they can’t do without being outside. You could see the little wheels turning. Now during the day cruise we drove the stake directly into their sailboat hearts. A swell moved into the sound, rolling Egret a bit so we just pushed the green Naiad active button and the roll stopped immediately. This of course launched a number of questions about stabilization. We told them without the slightest hint of truth bending: “It does this in 15′ seas as well”. We did concede Naiads don’t stop the pitch, just the roll. They now have to live with the fact all the Egret crew does to stop rolling is push a button.

So there we have it. Egret cleared out of Chile and back into Argentina. We will provision, clear back out of Argentina, back into Chile and cruise the glacier loop for the next month around Isla Gordon and its fjords. At the end of February we will make the call whether to winter in the very DEEP south or trek north as originally planned on our way to New Zealand. Either way we will get to New Zealand. It isn’t going anywhere. The absolute beauty is we can do anything. We sure couldn’t say that when we were dirt dwelling and working.