Tuesday-Friday 1st-4th February 2011
Friday was an excellent, productive day - mainly calm and sunny, with occasional short periods of strong, chilly wind.... and lots of help from Jo and Will, on leave from the 'Ernest Shackleton' - the British Antarctic Research vessel. They'd initially arrived on Wednesday, with Will delegated by his father (Chairman of the OCC Awards Committee) to present me with the OCC Award of Merit medal - totally undeserved to my mind, but that's by the by...! We later went to 'Chez Manu' situated high above the town, with a great view East over the Beagle Channel, to celebrate .... and I was also able to thank Barry, who joined us, for his invaluable help in bringing a new series drogue & camera etc from the USA for me to replace those damaged items onboard (he'd come to Ushuaia to join 'Alaska Eagle' for their next trip to S. Georgia and on to Buenos Aires). The meal and local wines were thoroughly enjoyable - a good evening!
During Friday, Jo and Will did a great job repairing the base of my PTFE mast track insert so that when the repaired sail is replaced (once the new boom - on its way now - has been installed), the sail slides will run up and down OK. They also spent a long time struggling to remove the shore-power isolating transformer - made very difficult by two of the screws refusing to budge.... a combination of muscle, drill, hack saw and Vise-grips finally overcame that problem! Of course, once removed and opened up, no hoped-for loose wires were found, so the transformer problem still remains, to be dealt with under warranty once the boat arrives somewhere suitable.
Jo and Will in the Irish pub - no Guinness available...!
Earlier in the morning, Norwegian neighbour Kåre, on a Malö, had helped mend a drunken locker door in the galley - thicker screws and some filing of their points soon had the door set to rights from its beating when hit hard by a flying object in the knockdown.
Changeover of boats also, on Friday - a few leaving, several others newly arrived - including 'Podorange' - fresh from Buenos Aires where they'd been trapped for around seven months with a totally unnecessary major problem due to corrupt, money-grabbing, Argentine customs officials.... Never try to import anything into Argentina and expect to see it, despite having paid for it in full..... I keep hearing the same message - from locals, as well! (First thing Saturday morning there was another 'boat dance' when 'Alaska Eagle' left and several other boats changed position - with strong West winds coming in over the next two days, it's best for big heavy boats to be on the inside of a raft of three boats, not on the outside where they would crush the others as the wind pushes them towards the dock!)
Thursday had turned into a wasted day, although not for lack of trying... Kåre spent a long time trying valiantly to get my Eberspacher heater to work and, after a lot of effort, got the fuel flowing nicely through the pipework, having fixed several air leaks, only to find the heater was clearly faulty since it comes on just twice for a short while before stopping completely... Without the computer connection and relevant software, it's impossible to find and fix the fault.... so I still won't be able to run it for heat on passage.... In the morning, I'd tried, with Barry helping, to re-light the Sigmar heater to no avail - later hearing that the strong winds over the night and day were probably the reason why the heater had gone out and was then so difficult to light - we'd managed it the day before but the flame had gone out while I was asleep - presumably when the wind had got up - but it had been running fine for most of the evening.
Wednesday afternoon, Barry had arrived with the drogue etc and stayed to help with lighting the Sigmar diesel heater - we finally managed it and left it running gently while we went for our meal and on Thursday we were able to bring on board the long settee cushion I'd thoroughly washed on Monday and had left drying in the warmth of the clubhouse - I still have several other smaller settee cushions to wash to get rid of the salt water they were soaked with... and sorting through stowed items is lengthy and ongoing, in between other jobs.
I've spent quite a time on the Internet, chasing the parcels from Sweden - DHL not being very helpful in supplying useful tracking info so I could see where the parcels had got to... hopefully they're now in Santiago de Chile, about to make for Punta Arenas.... but nothing's confirmed (LAN Chile server has been unhelpful every time) ... and it's weekend now.... (Sat: Just got email from Sweden telling me flight delayed - expected in Santiago de Chile Sunday...)