Part III: The Incredible South Georgia
Well its two full days at sea from Elephant Island heading north to get to South Georgia, a journey of some 1,300 miles. We are following in the "footsteps" of Shackleton and his crew of 5 aboard the 22.5 ft lifeboat The James Caird as they left the camp at Point Wild in search of rescue. They took 16 days to reach the southern coast of South Georgia, and legend has it that they were only able to take 3 sextant readings on the entire passage but still nailed it! What an incredible journey.
Part II: Deception Island and Elephant Island
From the Antarctic Peninsula we cross The Bransfield Straits again and back to the southern end of the South Shetland Islands. It was a fairly calm crossing and we arrive in the early morning at Deception island.
Part I: Antarctic Peninsula
We started our journey from Punta Arenas in southernmost Chile. One of the very special things about our trip is that we actually get to fly over the Drake Passage, missing out on 2 days of what very often is a rough and boring crossing. Given that we have a long cruise back from South Georgia, this is quite a bonus as it gives us 2 extra days of the expedition. But first the preparation...
All of our shore gear (jackets, pants, gloves etc) must be carefully cleaned before we get on the plane. Antarctica is a pristine and protected environment so any dirt, grass seeds or organisms need to be removed. We are provided with some very glamorous gumboots to wear on the expedition as well, and then proceed to the "weigh in"! What?! Here we discover (I guess it must have been in the fine print) a 20kg luggage allowance on the flight! Hmm fortunately we were not too much over... We are required to wear all of our shore gear on the plane as we will be getting straight onto the boat via zodiac on arrival. Needless to say some of our excess baggage was stowed in pockets...
What do you want to H2(kn)O(w)?
One of our lovely guests on ITIKI this year was a dear ‘old’ friend of mine who just happens to be one of Australia’s leading experts on water management, Dr Annette Davison (BSc (hons), M Env Law, PhD, GAICD etc etc). Annette is founder and director of Risk Edge whose mission is to help its clients optimise their businesses through identifying risks and harnessing the opportunities that creates. Annette is a very smart lady, not only has she has chosen me as a friend, as you can see she has lots of letters after her name…
Annette and her husband Steve (a highly regarded steel scheduler – yes it’s a thing!) joined us for a few days in Gocek Bay in southern Turkey and over a glass of water or two (well wine is mostly water isn’t it???) we got to talking about matters of water and waste management on a yacht and decided to take a look at ITIKI’s systems from a water safety and risk management perspective. This is the sort of thing that can happen when a couple of scientists have access to alcohol and too much time on their hands. I have to say though, it has been a very interesting exercise. We had not considered our water management system quite so holistically until now. While it has evolved to its current configuration, rather than being designed that way up front, it seems my own science and public health background, along with Keith’s diligent research and a healthy dose of common sense, have helped us reach a pretty good outcome
We are back in Australia for 6 months to enjoy the summer down under. So where did we leave ITIKI? Well we have left our beloved in the very capable hands of the Karpathakis family at Artemis Leros Boatyard on the northern end of the island of Leros. This small island is part of the Dodecanese group in the eastern Aegean. There is no marina here so all of the boat storage is on the hardstand which is what we wanted this year. It is easier on the boat especially as we are not on board to keep an eye on mooring lines etc. We are also in need of an anti-fouling after a season of heavy growth and hard bottom scrubbing.
Due west of the small island of Symi lies the even smaller island of Nisyros. This gem of an island is not to be missed and as it is on the way to Leros, why not. We have some more northerlies on the way but there is a small weather window and that is enough for a flying visit to this amazing island. Despite its size, it is jam packed with stuff to see! After an early start motoring from Symi we arrive in the middle of the day and have our pick of spots in the near empty Pali harbour. After a spot of lunch we pick up a hire car from Eagles nest, and we are given a laminated card with step by step instructions on what to see and how to get there. We follow this religiously...
After leaving Gocek bay we had one more overnight stop just outside the headland, and a little further west from Ragged bay where we stayed on the way in. This was really just to shorten the trip to Ekincek and make it a little easier on our VIP guests, my mum and brother Michael. This bay has the unlikely name of Kukukaga Koyu and is shallow enough to swing anchor which is a real bonus, as I am so over swimming lines ashore. As boats left we repositioned ourselves but sadly the music got louder and louder on one of the gulets (they were there before us). Keith went over to see if they were staying the night and as they were, and expected to be kicking on until the wee hours, we moved around the corner to Buyukaga Koyu. That meant swimming lines ashore at dusk but it is just as nice a bay and very quiet. Such a shame that one boat can completely ruin a beautiful place with noise pollution.
When we set about planning season 2019, we still had a few question marks about our route and timing. Our winterising location was also yet to be chosen, however we had decided we wanted ITIKI to spend her winter on dry land, which is much easier on the boat. With friends and family wanting to join us in September we had to take a guess where we would be wintering and on balance thought it would probably be in Turkey at Marmaris. So a trip to Turkey was pencilled in towards the end of the season. As it turned the island of Leros in Greece was finally chosen as the place to go for winter, fortunately not too far from our cruising grounds in Turkey.
Having reached Artemis Boatyard on the island of Leros, eastern Cyclades, and survived our dance with the Meltemi, we can relax a little. The wind has backed off for the moment and it seems to be less intense closer to the Turkish coast (although it hasn’t finished with us yet…) We have covered a few of the 6000+ Greek islands but we don’t feel like we have seen much ashore, as the priority has been ducking for cover and getting to Leros. We barely had time to read about what we were missing in the guide book! Now we have a good week ahead to catch our breath and slow down and run south with the prevailing wind.
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.