December 15, 2018
Days distance: 57 nautical miles
Total distance: 731nm
Prominent Feature: 40 miles north of Golfo San Jorge
1800 Position: 44-29’S 064-22’W
All night we sailed a nice close reach in a moderate northwesterly and made some nice progress. Mid-morning however we were stopped by a wall of gale force south westerlies. We hove to and waited for the cold front to blow itself out. Half an our ago at 1700 the wind had subsided enough to start making way again under heavily reefed sails. We are close reaching and doing no better than a westerly course which does not do us much good, but the wind is supposed to lighten more and continue backing and we should be able to make a progressively better course as the night passes. Progress has been painfully slow, but we are still in good spirits. Deb and I love being together when the going gets tough. Dawn Treader is handling wonderfully and we try to repay her by not driving her too hard.
Comments on our blog posts are automatically emailed to us so we do get to read them at sea. However, we are unable to reply to them until we get to an internet source. We are posting via email using our satellite phone. We very much enjoy reading the comments and appreciate you following along with us.
December 15, 2018
Days distance: 87 nautical miles
Total distance: 674nm
Prominent Feature: Crossing Golfo Nuevo and Puerto Madryn
Position: 43-43’S 063-36’W
We started the day beating to headwinds that gradually veered enough that we could make our southwesterly course. We even recently were able to ease the sheets and reach off on a much more comfortable point of sail. The sun shined all day and we have had our usual escort of birds. We are expecting the wind to head us off once again tomorrow and increase with a small cold front passage. After the previous day’s low mileage we were feeling a bit lethargic and stuck today, so we opened a Christmas present and it brightened our spirits. Deb made Tex-Mex pasta inspired by the gut busting platter served at Sonny’s in Galveston. Our guts aren’t busted, just satisfied, which I think is what you want.
December 14, 2018
Days distance: 24 nautical miles
Total distance: 587nm
Prominent Feature: Off Peninsula Valdes
Position: 42-33.4’S, 062-27.1’W
More slow going today. We were hoping solid Northerlies would push us all night before a frontal passage and headwinds in the morning. What we got instead were squally winds from all directions blowing between a calm and near gale. It created a confused sea state that we wallowed in while the wind was light. We rolled heavily sided to side and I had to hand steer because there was not enough wind for the windvane autopilot to operated. Then the wind would come heavy and we rearranged the sails only to have a shift that required a different set. Lightning was around much of the evening which can be unnerving at sea. At 3am the wind quit all together and with a diminishing sea we went below for rest. We stayed becalmed until 10am and I slept almost the entire time. Soon after waking the wind began to blow gently from the southwest. We set sail and did our best to make progress against the headwind. Deb made a hearty and delicious brunch of eggs, toast, and fried rice. About noo
n the wind was blowing hard enough that progress was uncomfortable, so we hove-to and took a break. We watched Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You Got Mail” and ate popcorn. The wind has moderated some and now we are beating again into the southwesterly with 3 reefs in the main and matched roller reefed genoa. We hope for a shift of wind later this evening giving us a better course to sail. All in all a tough day, but the sun is now out, we are sailing, and we just saw our first real southern giant; The Royal Albatross and its 10 foot wingspan.
December 13, 2018
Days distance: 121 nautical miles
Total distance: 563 nm
Prominent Feature: Crossing Golfo San Matias
Position: 42-23.2′ S, 061-58.4 W
The Northeast wind has continued through the entire day. We have been sailing dead downwind with our mainsail and genoa in a wing on wing configuration. This set likes to have an over reefed mainsail to keep the helm in balance. Last night we sailed with 2 reefs in the main and I hesitated to reduce sail further so as to maintain Dawn Treader’s good drive. She was yawing about more than I like but the waves weren’t too big and therefore we weren’t in danger of a bad broach. At 4 am Dawn Treader unexpectedly rounded up into a semi hove-to position. The windvane autopilot to tiller line had parted. The windvane was working hard because of Dawn Treader’s yawing and perhaps the rope was a bit worn. I put on my rain gear since the night was splashy, and I retied the rope. We turned back downwind and I went forward to put a third reef in the main. I unfurled the genoa a roll or two and we were off again, this time much better balanced and the windvane steered Dawn Treader strai ght.
The wind is supposed to continue fairly brisk until early tomorrow. Then there will be a front or a low passing bringing a wind shift of strongish Southwesterly headwinds. We expect to spend some time hove to (this time intentionally) to wait for the breeze to turn fair again.
Days distance: 35 nautical miles
Total distance: 442 nm
Prominent Feature: slow progress
Today was our worst day mileage wise. We made 34 miles and most of those have been in the last 6 hours since the wind has filled in from the northeast. It was a pleasant lazy day. We ate and we slept. We are beginning to get into the sea going routine and almost caught up on rest. We saw our first Penguins. They were Magellanic Penguins. They looked funny in the water, almost like ducks. I had really only ever seen Penguins on TV and they were always on land looking penguiny not ducky. But like our first Albatross off Ilha Bella, seeing our first Penguins feels like an accomplishment.
This northeasterly breeze is supposed to stick for awhile. It will probably get up to near gale force tomorrow ahead of a frontal passage an southerly winds on Friday. And while the sailing will surely be less comfortable with the growing sea, we are looking forward to making some good miles again.
Days distance: 92 nautical miles
Total distance: 407nm
Prominent Feature: Into the roaring 40s
We fought hard to make a little progress last night. The wind was light and changed direction often. Eventually the air became completely still and there was nothing we could do but sit there. The night was as dark as it gets. The sky entirely obscured by clouds. Nothing beyond Dawn Treader could be discerned. A black void. We sat there becalmed under our own masthead light and it felt like we were all that existed. Then it began raining and the millions of falling drops turned the sea into a bioluminescent light show, kind of like one of those dance floors where the squares light up to show you where to put your feet, but multiplied by the vastness of the ocean. Around 3am the wind gradually returned and we have been enjoying a nice sail since. The day is perfect, clear, cool, lots of birds too look at. We took some glorious naps and Deb made an awesome pasta. We are supposed to lose our wind again tonight, but hopefully we can keep Dawn Treader moving as long as possible.
Days distance: 85 nautical miles
Total distance: 315 nm
Prominent Feature: Becalmed
We began day 3 becalmed and it ended becalmed. Between calms the wind blew fresh from the west and we still managed to get 85 miles on the days run. We sailed close hauled with a triple reefed main and deeply furled genoa. We made 6 knots. Tending the sails on a moonless night, I saw dolphins swimming alongside, there form suggested only by the disturbed bioluminescent plankton. It looked like some brilliant CGI work, but it was just nature.
The forecast shows continued variable winds for the next day or two, then a cold front passage.
Days distance: 115 nautical miles
Total distance: 230 nm
Prominent Feature: passing Mar Del Plata
All last night and into the morning we sailed fast in a 15-20knot Northerly wind. We sailed a broad reach under the genoa poled out to windward and a single reefed mainsail. Late morning the wind tapered off and then disappeared completely. The next few hours we made a few miles catching a slight breeze here and there. An incredible number of moths have landed on Dawn Treader, I guess to take a break. After lunch squalls developed overhead and we managed to eek out a few more miles in the fickle and variable winds of a thunderstorm. Once pushed through the squall line we were greeted by a gentle northerly that is pushing us on course at 3 knots. I don’t expect it to hold long as the wind is forecast to be variable through the night. We are passing Mar Del Plata and there are some fishing boats and shipping around. Many albatrosses, terns, and what I believe to be some sort of giant sooty petrel. I will have to look at the bird book to find out. We are still waiting on our
first penguins. As I type the sails begin to slat and we lose speed. We are becalmed again. I am looking forward to making good progress again with a steady breeze.
Day 1 distance: 115nm
Weather: light southerly then calm. West to North wind filling in through morning and day to 15-18kts. Waves 4-5 feet. Prominent feature: Crossing the Rio de la Plata.
Yesterday late afternoon we left Piriapolis and we left Uruguay. We motored south against a decaying headwind in hopes to catch the first breath of a new fair breeze later in the evening. We cut the engine a few miles offshore and sailed slowly close hauled. A pleasant sunset coincided with the last of the southerly and we were becalmed. A lingering swell made waiting for the wind’s return uncomfortable as Dawn Treader rolled and heaved with vigor. We both became mildly seasick. I started the engine to give Dawn Treader some way in hopes to dampen her spirited motion. Our little ship was like a horse chomping at the bit. After motoring for a couple hours I detected a slight wind. I turned the engine off and hoisted full sail. We made 2 to 3 knots on a beam reach. I hand steered because there was not enough apparent wind for the auto pilot to work. An hour later at 3am the wind was strong enough to engage the auto pilot. It continued to strengthen and we were slicing through
bioluminescent enriched water at 6 knots. I went down to my bunk to finish the watch in comfort, popping my head outside every 10 minutes or so to check on things.
Debbie relieved me at sunrise and Dawn Treader continues at a wonderful pace. Today is great sailing, but our fair wind is suppose to get finicky tomorrow afternoon somewhere off Mar Del Plata. We are sailing toward The Falkland Islands and we hope to make it in a couple weeks.
A year ago we sailed into the Rio de la Plata. We slowed to a pace I have not known before. We became abstracted to time. Our normal clock keepers became irrelevant: Immigration officers said we could stay as long as we pleased, there was no correct or incorrect sailing season, and our wavering long term plans were not there to pull us along. Hidden on this featureless coast of murky brown water we found a serendipitous paradise. We savored the stillness of the perception of paused time. We made friends. We were part of a community. We rested, deeply, in comfort. We got to know true Uruguayan tranquility and Argentine hospitality.
Our first port on the Rio de la Plata was Piriapolis, Uruguay and Piriapolis will be our last. Rested and ready we once again look south. When the winds go fair, hopefully within a week, we plan to sail to the southernmost town in the world, Puerto Williams, Chile.
Next week, you can track our progress on our delorme tracking page, find the link on the sailing page of our website. This blog post is a test of our email to post function of our satellite phone and will not contain pictures.
We came to the gates of Patagonia a year ago, and now we sail through.
Thanks Juan for encouraging us to write more and for the wine.