Beating

We had an elegant and thrilling sail from Stanley to South Georgia, so inevitably we’re encountering the reverse on the way home. The wind’s coming from the west, 35+ knots of it, and we’re beating into it under engine power. The rolling motion of the outward journey has given way to a brutal sawing, in which the bow lifts, shivers and then smashes down again with a bang like hitting concrete. But we’ve covered 359 nm in 40 hours, and by this evening we’ll be halfway to Falkland and the pubs of Stanley. The sun is glimmering after days of murk, and it’s always interesting to sit and watch our retinue of cape petrels and Antarctic prions. An hour ago there was a sooty albatross.

Other than birdwatching and cooking there’s not much to do except stand watch, read and sleep.

Stugeron and strange hours have made everyone drowsy. On either side of me Gavin and Tom are asleep on the saloon cushions. Dick’s head is nodding over his book. Up the steps in the pilot house, the current watch are sitting in silence. Laura is leaning over the chart table. Everyone else is in his bunk. As I’ve been in mine for most of the day I know it’s not a bad place to be, half-braced against the dip and crash, listening to the rattle and creak of the boat, slap of water and rush of wind as the engine powers us steadily into the weather.

If the James Caird party hadn’t succeeded in bringing help, the men stranded on Elephant Island were under orders from the Boss to take one of the two remaining boats and try to reach Argentina. Heading straight into wind and weather like this, it’s hard to believe they would have got anywhere. It makes the South Georgia achievement seem even more magnificent, because it was the only real chance they had.

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5 Responses to Beating

  1. Gary says:

    Gav is baking, Gav reached the top of the mountain, Gav is the 1st to see an iceberg, Gav silently took my skis from me and tied them to his pulk alongside his own……Enough!!!!! Iknow how fantastic my nephew is. Thanks for all your postings but unfortunately the picture of your daughter that you initially posted I cannot find. Could you please repost it.

    • southbyeight says:

      Scroll down to the bottom of the page and there’s an arrow link, bottom left, to ‘older posts’. Click on that for the previous pages, scroll down again, and do it again, until you come to the Flora picture.

  2. Gary says:

    I have my limitations. Just show me the pic.

  3. Gary says:

    Hey Gav I am proud u and thanks Tom for including Gav. Unbelievable

  4. Will Spray says:

    What an amazing adventure you guys have had. You’ve done it the hard way, and it seems there has been suffering enough to satisfy even Dick and Martin’s masochistic tendencies. It may sound strange, but I very much envy you all- even the unpleasant bits. The wildlife and history you have seen sounds unbelievable. I am particularly jealous of the albatrosses (albatroi?). What astonishing creatures they seem. The traverse seems to have been a ridiculously hard slog (when the soft spoken and not easily rattled Venables resorts to profane shouting things are bad), but it must have felt so fantastic to get through it, and satisfying to look down your noses at the yacht clubbers in their deck shoes, and the cameraderie sounds truly sepecial. The peaks and skiing sound fantastic too, as does the sail you had over. I am amused to see that Skip has once again bailed out early. Maybe those of you who were on our trip a few years ago need to take a hint? Or was princess Anne spotted on the horizon? It has been quite hard to read Janey’s wonderfully written and entertaining blogs, knowing that I was nearly there with you, but I feel like I have been able to live it vicariously through them. I also admit to being quite glad to have not been there at some moments! What is clear is that I will HAVE to do this at some point before South Georgia melts. I’ll have to get whoring in Hollywood ASAP. What is also clear is that the really irreplacable thing will be the company of all of you, which I profoundly regret missing. People always think I’m weird for wanting to go do this type of thing with a load of geriatrics (meant in the nicest possible way, and always excepting the merely middle aged Tom) but that is because they havent met you all. Love to you all, especially Dad, who you have all done very well to put up with. I hope you get a few hours of decent sailing on the way back, and have some time to check out the Falklands, which I’m sure will be fascinating too. Drink a whisky for me with an iceberg in it.
    Will

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