Day 439: On the dock

Scott and Mary are back in Ushuaia waiting to refuel

Position: Ushuaia , Argentina

After a trip to America to catch up with family and attend the Lauderdale International Boat Show, Scott and Mary embarked on a whirlwind 8-day trip to Thailand to visit their son. The couple have since been back in Ushuaia where they have been tirelessly planning a trip to Antarctica. Sadly these plans have had to be aborted due to insurance problems and Scott and Mary are now waiting on dock for fuel so they can complete the next leg of their cruise along the Chilean channels, their most demanding cruise to date. They are growing more impatient by the day. Here is their latest update, received yesterday.

Well, mis amigos, Egret is still on the dock, our friends from New Zealand have arrived from the north (Puerto Montt in Chile) and we are waiting for the fuel issue to be resolved. Meanwhile the cruise ship Explorer hit ice and sunk near the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the short version of Egret’s past week.

Nothing is easy for any of us here in the ‘Deep South’. Our friends are planning a trip that will take in Antarctica, the South Georgia Islands, the Falkland Islands and Ushuaia. We are lending them our set of charts with hand written notes from our meetings with local professional captains, as well as letting them copy all of our notes, anchorage drawings and so on. If they didn’t have such an experienced crew with two circumnavigators and two more many-mile cruisers we wouldn’t let them have the material – it’s a risky trip and we wouldn’t want to encourage them to take chances. They are plodding through New Zealand bureaucracy for their official permission but they will be embarking on the trip uninsured, something we were not willing to do. Tough decision there. They have a beautiful 55ft steel sloop that has some real value (their next boat may well be a used, late model Nordhavn 46 but first things first). They may end up skipping Antarctica if they don’t get permission.

Fuel has become a big issue here. The main (only) fuel dock has shut down for small boats like Egret. Diesel is also in short supply and prices have risen. Today will be spent trying to fuel the best way we can. Because fuel in Chile is nearly double the price of Argentina we are not only filling Egret’s main tanks, but also her jerry jugs and fuel bladders (we bought jerry jugs for kerosene to mix with diesel for our diesel heater during the coldest days of winter). We will have nearly 275 gallons of extra fuel on deck for the trip north along the Chilean channels. Once we have successfully refuelled we will say our goodbyes and set off.

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The shock waves here in Ushuaia are still radiating from the cruise ship Explorer sinking. Ushuaia’s main source of revenue is from the Antarctic cruise ship trade and there are lots of whisperings here on the dock where the commercial sailboats reap most of their income from Antarctic trips. Fortunately the weather was kind and no lives were lost in the disaster.

The early season cruising boats are already pouring in to Ushuaia. The dock is jammed and we are still getting some northerlies from time to time making dock dwelling tough (Egret has been on the dock for two weeks waiting on fuel). Twice we have received scrapes from the steel dock bollards with the spring highs (tides) and north wind. The water rises to within inches of the top of the dock. Early this morning YT took our grinder and put a bull nose (rounded the pipe) on top of the steel pipe bollard, the pipe was mushroomed from being set with a pile driver. It also doesn’t help to have a boat rafted outside adding their windage to the issue.

Within a couple weeks the harbour will be jammed. As much as we would like to meet the ‘class of 07-08’ we’ll be off. We have also witnessed part of the seasonal bird migration arriving/passing through, these are Cauquen Upland Geese (pictured), a few arrived during winter but the majority have arrived in the past few weeks. Perhaps by the next update we’ll be under way, we’ll see. Ciao.



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